Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Smiths - The Smiths

Today (February 20th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the self-titled debut album from the Smiths. This 1984 release only got to number 150 on the US Billboard Album chart (with eleven weeks total on the chart). It did however, climb to number 77 in Australia, number 65 in Canada, number 44 in Sweden, number 28 in the Netherlands, number 9 in New Zealand and number 2 in the UK (with thirty-three weeks total on that chart).

Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Smiths at number 22 on its list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980's and number 473 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Guardian in the UK ranked it number 73 on its list of the 100 Best Albums Ever. Slant Magazine ranked it at number 51 on its Best Albums of the 1980's list.

Side one begins with "Reel Around the Fountain", a pleasant sounding pop song about the loss of innocence.

The reflective "You've Got Everything Now" features a nice back and forth between the guitars and percussion.

"Miserable Lie" goes into a very erratic tempo after the opening verse and Morrissey‘s voice jumps up an octave. Neither works for me.

On "Pretty Girls Make Graves", Morrissey sings about the decision point between heterosexuality and homosexuality.

"The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" has some very distinct imagery to it as an introspective father calms his scared son.

Side two starts with "Still Ill", a song that I think is about a guy who has become disillusioned with his life. The harmonica at the start and finish are a nice touch.

"Hand in Glove", which was released as a single in 1983, is a song about loneliness.

The album's single "What Difference Does It Make?" went to number 12 in both Ireland and the UK. This one is about doing anything for love and yet that love is not always reciprocated.

"I Don't Owe You Anything" has a bit of a retro vibe to it musically; it reminds me of late 60’s or early 70’s pop.

The album closer "Suffer Little Children" is about the murders that took place on Saddleworth Moor outside of Manchester in the early 1960's. The title comes from the Gospel of Matthew, 19:14.

The US release of the album added one additional track, the bouncy dance single "This Charming Man" (which went to number 52 in Australia and number 25 in the UK in late 1983) to side one of the album. I heard this one a lot on the college radio stations back in the day, so it had become my favorite track just from exposure.

As I have mentioned previously when I reviewed albums by the Smiths, I definitely enjoy the compositions by Johnny Marr; I would listen to instrumental versions of these songs and be perfectly content. Morrissey’s lyrics often leave me in a quandary. I definitely cannot relate to a lot of the darker subject matter; I am just not that deep of a person. Given that, The Smiths is a good debut record.

For 1985's Meat Is Murder, click here.

For 1986's The Queen Is Dead, click here.

For 1987's Strangeways, Here We Come, click here.

No comments: