Friday, May 14, 2010

Worth Another Listen - The Smiths Pt 2

the smiths,morrissey,johnny marr,andy rourke,mike joyce
the smiths,morrissey,johnny marr,andy rourke,mike joyce

Last night, I offered up the first half of my thoughts on The Smiths, an incredibly influential band of the 80s, whose music had a great impact on many of the rock bands to come. Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce were making music together for about 5 years, yet changed the way people played and listened to music for decades to come. I am sure I have left off the favorites of many, and could easily expand the list to include more, but instead decided for once I would err on the side of the minimal, and rather than give a history lesson, I would suggest if you don't know who The Smiths or Morrissey are, you have homework to do - start with Google.

the smiths,morrissey,johnny marr,andy rourke,mike joyce

The Queen Is Dead was released in 1986, and while I came close to highlighting the title track, I decided to go with Panic instead. Again, it has the sound of The Smiths, with the forlorn discussion of 'panic on the streets of London', the music and the ease of Morrissey's voice belying the true tone of the song.

In 1987, they released Strangeways, Here We Come, which turned out to be their final studio album. From this record came Girlfriend In A Coma, a biting song very much imbued with the with the vital life force that surrounded both the band and the singer. Here is the video for the song.

By the end of 1987, the band decided it was time to move in different directions. Morrissey started working on his solo debut, and Johnny Marr joined a few different bands, including The The, which had several hits in the 90s. By 1992, the record company decided to release 2 'Best Of' albums, and with the second, they released the song There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, which originally could be found of The Queen Is Dead album. It did well on the UK charts, hitting #25, not bad for a band that had come apart almost 5 years earlier.

This song became and interesting one, as it held allure certainly for the teens, who were discovering the band for the first time, and to young gays, who identified with the torment inherent to the Smiths' pathos. I have, in fact, posted a cover of this song by Daniel J. Cartier some months ago. This is interesting, as Morrissey's exploration of his own sexuality never became a matter of definitive answers, but the says certainly bought into his laconic stylings.

Well, that is my our tour of the Smith's catalog, and I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you have some Smiths' in your collection - if not, guy buy them now!

the smiths,morrissey,johnny marr,andy rourke,mike joyce


  1. I for one really appreciated how you handled your tribute to the Smiths.

    A memory from college is one where my then girlfriend asked me 'Why was I listening to such a gay song', and I was listening to 'Panic'. On a unconscious level, I understood that it could be a song about the frustration of being a homosexual in 90's England, but I didn't 'hear' it as that...

    ... same thing with 'There Is A Light...'. In fact, a satellite radio station was playing that song as Nebraska and I drove around Chicago late at night. It felt like it was kismet, because that moment we were together it felt as if the song came on just for us.

    Again, thanks for the tribute to my favorite band!!

  2. Ah yes - this band can truly rank their albums as classic. How Soon Is Now was a rare gem back in the 80's - it was a darker side of pop that would never have cracked the US Top 100 - this song blended rock, new wave and electronics and Morrissey's voice combined made this a perfect rock song (do you remember it being played on Queer As Folk?).

    This band changed my life....and with the likes of WDRE/WLIR - made the coming of alternative and left-of-centre music an underground thing that became a phenomenon.

    There's a book called "How Soon is Never" which is written by Marc Spitz from Spin Mag - it's about how the Smiths changed his life. When I read this book - it's about me growing up in the 80's and 90's and loving the new wave of the era!

  3. Big Mark, I hear ya. Music is so tied to our memories and our lives.

    SteveA, Indeed, they changed so much, and will not soon be forgotten.

  4. Howard, just to let you know, the drummer for The Smiths was Mike Joyce, not Mikes Jones.
    Big Mark, your girlfriend probably couldn't get the genius of the music she was hearing (most chicks do get that wrong).
    Anyway, viva The Smiths. They are/were the best thing to come since The Beatles.

  5. Anon, Wow, sorry about that. Don't know what I was thinking - or if I even was at that moment. I will fix it in the post. Thanks for pointing that out. And yes, The Smiths are great!



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