The Smiths

Extremely masculine brute-rock
*special introductory paragraph!
*The Smiths
*Hatful Of Hollow
*Meat Is Murder
*The Queen Is Dead
*Louder Than Bombs
*Strangeways, Here We Come
*The Best Of The Smiths, Vol. 1
*The Best Of The Smiths, Vol. 2
*Under Review DVD

The Smiths sprouted out of Manchester, England in the early '80s with an agenda of red-hot hate, fury-stoked fascism and undying contempt for the remnants of the "Peace and Love Generation." A violent reactionary right-wing Oi! band with obvious connections to the National Front, this four-piece of bile (screamer Steven Morrissey, thrasher John Marr, bass pummeller Andy Rourke and blastbeat supremo Mike "Himmler's Hammer" Joyce) knew that its entire "final solution" agenda would be doomed from the start if they couldn't find a more erudite way of couching such horrific (to the comfortable bourgeois masses) slogans as "I wear black on the outside because I hate all blacks on the inside" and "I am human and I need to be loved/That's what all the Jews say." The answer: target America's teenage girl and closeted homosexual population. The rest is "Naz-istory"!

Reader Comments (Mike)
Dear, dear, dear...those who don't get irony will be muy furioso. Even though it's probably the best opener since the PiL reviews. Still, Mark, prepare yourself to get flamed pretty hard. I'm not going to do it, since I don't care about the Smiths, but Smiths fans are pretty...passionate about their band. Just warning you.
i'm not going to try to defend the smiths. they're one of my favorite bands, if not my actual favorite. but if you don't like them, you just don't. it's not the type of thing where i can bitch and complain and then maybe the world will finally like it. it's not music for everyone, but goddamn, it's music for me and i love it to death. and maybe i'm a sissie.
"Hey shit-head. The Smiths weren't Nazi's! They were a bunch of fags! They weren't brute-rock! Are you smoking crack? Shit-head."

(Anticipating future flames from idiots unfamiliar with Mark's patent-pending "blatantly misrepresenting a band for comedic effect" technique...)

The Smiths are my favorite band. Morrissey writes lyrics that tell little stories: sometimes from the first-perspective, sometimes not, but always extremely clever and uniquely personal. When you've finished listening to a Smiths album (or Moz solo joint) you feel like you have read a book of short-stories by a particularly witty writer, and you feel like you know the writer in a more personal way than when you began reading.

Oh yeah. And that Marr fellow was pretty good, I suppose. <---------------- Purposeful Understatement. Please Do Not Flame.

Musically, the Smiths sound a bit like early REM, or the Byrds, especially in the guitar tone department. The Rourke/Joyce rhythm section kept a tight reign on the backbeat, and Marr would usually put several layers of shimmery arpeggiated guitars and mandolins and such over top of it.

In my opinion, the Smiths really shine most as a singles band. Their albums tend to be unevenly sequenced and produced, and after a few listens one can tell quite obviously which songs they spent more time on. Usually those turned out to be the singles, and the singles are available on about 70 different compilations, not to mention the original vinyl. (Morrissey addresses this oft-repeated criticism in the song "Paint a Vulgar Picture" -- 'Re-Issue, Re-Package, Re-Package/ Re-Evaluate the Songs' & 'Slip them into a different sleeve / Buy both and feel deceived'.) It might be advisable when approaching the Smiths for the first time to go with one of these compilations, such as "Louder Than Bombs" (a compilation of album tracks, singles, and a few unreleased numbers), or "Best of the Smiths" Volumes 1 & 2.

Not everyone will like the Smiths, but most who do like them actually grow to love them. That sounds pretty gay, but there are times when the gayest answer is the right one. Except for butt-sex, which makes Jesus cry and is never the right answer.

The Smiths - Sire 1984
Rating = 6

There are two things: what we know and what we think. What we KNOW is this: (a) we occasionally go to Ariba Ariba mexican restaurant for a fine dining experience, (b) three times ago, one of the employees had to help me to the restroom (the WOMEN'S restroom for some reason) and then help me out to a taxi when I couldn't eat my meal and insisted on just spitting it all over my shirt, (c) two times ago, my wife hilariously insulted a woman that she thought was hitting on me (I was doing a silly dance, the woman at the bar laughingly said in her whatever foreign accent, "Yeah man! Yeah man!," I looked at her and asked, "Yemen?," my wife brusquely spat at her, "I'm surprised you can NAME a country!"), and (d) since our last time there, we have both been extremely sick with fever, chills, diahrpoopies, dizziness and nausea. That's what we KNOW.

So what do we THINK? Well, I'll darn well tell you EXACTLY what we think. To make a long story short: A gigantic space meteor exploded in the galaxy of Xarton-7, sending blasts of gleebolites all ac... ...Ronald Reagan, who at the time wore a scarlet tunic with blue-green hood. It looked quite good! He had a big... ...shat all over himself, which at the time I found amusing but David Lee Roth was having none of it, so... ...turpentine? Christ, Jeeves!" Then the anchor dug deep into the burial realm of the Incas... poisoning.

So fuck those fucking Mexican shitbags at Ariba Ariba because we're never fucking going fucking to their fucking Mexican fuckrestfuckaufuckrant afuckinggain.

God, just reading that last paragraph makes me sick to my stomach. Have any of you people ever felt like this? Like there's a tiny human inside your body, kicking around and growing by the day as it sucks nutrients from your bloodstream through a little tube? Hey, wait a second! Maybe I'm preg


Sorry, dropped the keyboard into my lemon soup. I was just saying, wait a second! Don't call me prejudiced! Sure, maybe I'm against Mexican AMERICANS who happen to be POISONING MY FOOD at my favorite MEXICAN RESTAURANT, but that doesn't mean that I dislike the entire race! Shit no! They're my favorite race of all! It's all OTHER races that suck a dick if you ask me! Go Mexicans! Fuck you everybody else!

The Smiths is a mellow folk-pop album sung by a youthful lounge lizard. I don't know if you've ever heard Steven Morrissey sing before, but it's a pretty amazing thing to behold. His voice is big - HUGE - goofy, poppy, pompous, croony, overserious, over-"entertainery" and a mighty difficult approach to get used to if you haven't already grown to love him by reading his lyrics. It's the kind of voice that's usually heard in Vegas revues, not in weepy songs about love denied. And it took me literally FIFTEEN YEARS to not hate it. What made the change? My wife forced me to attend one of his solo shows (he's a solo artist now, under the single name "Steven"), and I just loved the guy. He's charismatic, friendly, witty and not at all the pompous dick-in-the-ground I was expecting! More a snickering cherub than a brooding artiste. Plus some of the songs he played that night (including what I was later told were "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" and "How Soon Is Now") floored the seat out of me! Imagine me!? Liking Steven!? But there I was, chanting "Steven! Steven! Steven!" along with the entire crowd of old people.

About this record in particular, Johnny Marr's REMy guitar arpeggiations sound stunning, gorgeous and beautiful on the ear all at once, but the actual songwriting is up the shitter's ass as far as I'm concerned. The bass lines and chord changes are by-the-numbers tossasides from Predictable City, and Steven's ridiculously romantic vocals should have a little sign on them saying "For Girls Only." Which isn't to say I don't love them! I'm just a firm supporter of full disclosure and strict corporate governance.

Look, I'll be honest: the songwriting isn't really "up the shitter's ass." It's just that a phrase like that only occurs to a man once in his life so I feel it hebooves him to use it when he may. I actually love the daytimes out of four of these eleven tracks and you can tell that to the tillerman! "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" rides along as lilting and spiritual a guitar arpeggio thy will hear in this world or any other....AND IT ONLY HAS ONE PART!!!! Instead of dicking around and making me, the listener, miss the good part, they NEVER CHANGE IT!!!! (Some might call this laziness) "Hand In Glove" is an actual ROCK song! An emotional, wrench-warming heart-hearting homersexual love ROCKER song! With harmonica and ANGER! "Still Ill" is another uptempo arpeggiator with an excellent downturning bass hook in the chorus. And "Suffer Little Children" is probably the most disturbing song that I've heard in the last ten years. Those gentle balladic arpeggs, that basic chord progression, those lyrics about...THE MOORS MURDERERS!??! Evil, creepy and gooddamned god!

So those are the four I love. And I really do! Those four tracks manage to avoid the pitfalls -- say, remember that kickass Atari game "Pitfall"? -- of the other tracks, which include but are not limited to yucky Morrissey falsetto screaming, hookless strum-jangle tepidity, and really fucking -- say, remember that kickass Odyssey II game "Really Fucking"? -- boring Spandau Ballet garbage like "Reel Around The Fountain" and "I Don't Owe You Anything." And this discussion of individual tracks is all fine and well for those of us who own the album, but what of those of us who don't? What about them? Can they all go get fucked? No! Because sex is illegal!

So let me describe its sound a bit more. The bass is mixed louder than the guitar, the guitar is almost always played with a clean tone and arpeggiated (wherein the strings/notes making up a chord are picked individually rather than strummed together), the drums are put through that powerless gated effect that immediately dates any CD as a mid-80s creation, and the singer (Steven) has huge goofy hair and a sharp little mind. His lyrics mostly focus on doomed relationships (probably GAY relationships, since he's GAY), but his alternately self-effacing, sexually playful and gloomy-as-clay lyrics are quite endearing, even to a truck-driving construction worker like myself. "No, it's not like any other love/This one is different - because it's us!" "Lesley-Anne, with your pretty white beads/Oh John, you'll never be a man/And you'll never see your home again/Oh Manchester, so much to answer for." "I'm too tired/I'm too sick and tired'And I'm feeling very sick and ill today/But I'm still fond of you." I like how he, oh you know, does this and that. Brings humor in. Takes the time to think up intriguing turns of phrase. He's charismatic. Occasionally a bit TOO homo-erotically charged ("I know the wind-swept mystical air/It means: I'd like to see your underwear"), but on the whole a holy puree of sympathy, sensitivity and charming man-ness.

And if you're a rocker, check out the end of "What Difference Does It Make?" because the guitarist is totally playing "How Many More Times."

Reader Comments
a little less polished than later albums, but that's part of its charm. the songs are more agressively catchy than later ones and moz's lyrics are particularly amusing. that, and "this charming man" is one of the best, if not THE best, song they ever wrote. "the hand that rocks the craddle" is the only dud. i give it a 9.
There’s something raw and wild about this album compared to the next two. Wait a minute did I say “raw and wild” – I actually meant “wet and gay”. You don’t use the words “raw and wild’ to describe the Smith…..ahhh who gives a fuck.

This album’s good Prindle. It’s got bouncy, Roxy Musicesque, slick 80’s music going for it. Marr’s sparse little parts are very tasty. And Morrissey is Morrissey. I’ve found most people have a love/hate feeling on him and if you get him you’ll love all the Smiths albums (which I do – and don’t call me a fag).
"if you're a rocker, check out the end of "What Difference Does It Make?" because the guitarist is totally playing "How Many More Times."

That's quite funny, actually.

I loved this album : I was 16 years old living on a council estate in a (post) industrial provincial town in the UK. This album - and this band - totally floored me and I don't think they ever did anything nearly as good after this (really, I don't).

Sounds like Joy Divisions, except not as serious and a lot more melodic. Morriseys voice is fantastic. Every song is great. The band also plays very well. Only problem is everything on this album sounds exactly the same. I'll give it a 9.

Well this might have raised a few eyebrows when it came out. Being familiar with Morrissey's song "Everyday is Like Sunday," I wasn't really expecting this album to sound like that song, and I slowly realized that every song more or less sounds exactly the same.

This album sounds like a less depressing Joy Division and a more depressing Byrds. Even though the whole atmosphere is great, it does start to get boring after a while. But that doesn't really become a problem until the next album.

Anyways, "Reel Around the Fountain" might be my favorite Smiths song, and definitely my favorite to play on guitar. "This Charming Man," "Still Ill," "Hand in Glove" and "You Got Everything Now" are other great ones. The only song I have a problem with is "Miserable Lie," which is kind of boring and the falsetto at the end doesn't work.

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Hatful Of Hollow - Sire 1984
Rating = 7

Here's your warning: The Shitms have released about 45 gajillion compilation CDs. This one here includes their earliest singles and BBC sessions, but thanks to later compilations you can find most of the songs elsewhere as well. For example, seven of them later showed up on Louder Than Bombs (read about them THERE, as I wrote that review several months before this one), and "How Soon Is Now" is right there on Meat Is Murder. Of the rest, six can be found on the debut Smiths album - although some and perhaps ALL of them are different versions:

Oh hang on, Kanye West has just called for an end to gay bashing. That should save millions of lives. Also, P. Diddy has shortened his name to Diddy. Short for "Diddy think we'd give a shit?" So remember, you can count on for your important entertainment news. I shall now continue where my colon left off.

NNNNNNNNNN!!!!! (ploop)

for example, "You've Got Everything Now" has MUCH louder drums in this version, and the previously song-driving bass line is now relegated to background status. You'll probably notice subtle differences in the other versions too if you're a big fan. And if so, that makes two of us (if you've got a friend there with you).

The real fancy news here, however, is the inclusion of two tracks that are unavailable on ANY of the other Smiths albums reviewed on this page, as far as I know. These songs are "Handsome Devil" and "Accept Yourself." Let me tell you a bit about them, in case you want to spend $16.00 on a single.

"Handsome Devil" is a great song! It's speedy with cool notey-notes. GOOD notes even, as opposed to bad! Kinda angry and driving. My wife hates it though because the lyrics say something like "Let me get my hands/On your mammary glands." Of course, my wife also hates "Squeeze Box" for the same reason, so what does SHE know?! In this case, quite a lot. "Squeeze Box" is a terrible song.

"Accept Yourself" isn't very good either. Inoffensive jangling and a fun reworking of a generic early r'n'r riff, but not the most memorable piece of songwriting I've ever heard. Come on, Stephen and Johnny, don't go for second best. Baby, put your talent to the test. You know you know you've got to write hooks with some sort of appeal, and baby then you'll know your talent's real. 'Accept Yourself!" (is no good). Hey hey hey hey!

Now please people, stop sending me Smiths compilations for review. The World Won't Listen? I don't blame them. Singles? Not a very powerful baseball analogy. The Very Best Of The Smiths? Christ, didn't we already cover this on The Best Of The Smiths, Vol. I and The Best Of The Smiths, Vol. II? I mean, we're talking about a band with FOUR FUCKING ALBUMS! I mean, I've recorded four fucking albums - you don't see dozens of Mark Prindle greatest hits compilations clogging up the market now, DO you??? That's because I have something that the Smiths never had: integrity.

For national security reasons, I will not be posting any reader comments that address those last two sentences.

Reader Comments
Dude, the reason you don't have any greatest hits CDs is because [redacted]
I don't own this one, but I have a friend who's played it for me several times. What I remember the most about it is that the songs with which I was already familiar didn't sound nearly as good on Hatful as they did on the later singles versions that I was used to. "William...", "What Difference...", and "This Charming Man..." for instance, I seem to remember being much more sparse and empty sounding in the mxing department than the versions on "Best of the Smiths". The songs that I didn't already know before hearing Hatful weren't terribly memorable, honestly. (I'm trying to hum "Accept Yourself" right now and I can't. And I'm one of those freaks who's so fanatical he wants to jump up onstage to touch Morrissey at a concert one day, so if I can't remember it after five or more listens it must not be very good.)

Pass on it 'til you've got the rest. Inessential, I'd call it, at very best.

That rhymed real good, didn't it?

... and i resent the hell out of that "Now please people, stop sending me Smiths compilations for review." crack.

I was one of those jack-asses, lest you forget.

I hate you so much that I'd like to have sex with you, Prindle.
Well, Prindle, you may have integrity, but that doesn't mean I have to. Ha ha!! I think it only fair to warn you that I'm compiling Mark Prindle Greatest Hits Vol. 1 as we speak. Straight to the top, baby!
Not one weak song, and there are at least 8 or 9 classics.
I know it’s a compilation, but this one captures everything that was good about The Smiths.
The production is clear and the performances are more energetic and soulful than on the first two albums. With the exception of the Queen is Dead, all their other albums were a letdown.

Kind of hard to believe that The Smiths had enough non album singles to fill up an album before they even had two of them out. There's a lot of high quality material here, and not one song I downright hate. Sure, I don't go out of my way for triple "Please Let Me Get What I Want," "Girl Afraid" and "Accept Yourself," but I do for "These Things Take Time," "How Soon is Now," "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now," and the first two songs. The live versions of the songs from the debut album aren't as good as the studio counterparts.

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Meat Is Murder - Sire 1985
Rating = 5

Okay, I only have a few minutes to write this because I'm at work and my boss just went to lunch. This album has much fewer arpeggiations, with John Marr now bringing in some western twang and yucky Violent Femmesy strumming to help me vomit when feeling under the weather. Steven's lyrics focus on issues surrounding how much it sucks to be young (parents and school telling you what to do) and how much it doesn't not unsuck to be gay and lonely. One thing about Steven that many should consider noting if not I is that many of his vocal melodies (at least on these first two records) revolve around him just laying on one note and returning to it over and over and over in his huge goofy romantic British voice.

Okay, I've got to really hurry now. He usually just picks up a Subway samich or a slice of pizza, so he'll be back in a couple minutes. He's got a gun! Any man who likes this music should be ashamed of himself. The chord changes are more creative than before, but I HATE them! They're total girl songs! More dull strumming, less interesting arpeggiation. This music is just so effete! You'd HAVE to be a girl or gay man to like it. Wouldn't you?? Or maybe the British are just on the whole lighter in the trousers than us angry American motocross bikers. I mean, we've got Mark E. Smith and Lemmy Kilmister. Who've they got? Urkle and that sissling prancey in Happy Mondays? No thanks. Believe you me - I like gay people. In fact, I LOVE gay people. Anally. But I do not care for effete music meant for teenage girls, unless it gets me in their sweet sweet drawers. Where they keep money and trinkets and things.

And do NOT buy the version that comes without "How Soon Is Now"!!!! Steven opened his solo show with this song, and it shook the breakers, threw open the lorries, and announced that Christ had been reborn as a tremelo pedal. On record, it's of course a bit more tepid, but come on -- He is human and he needs to be loved, just like anybody else does! Life is a whimsical whirlie-go-round. You go through life thinking you might like the Smiths if not for their pompous annoying croon-singer, then you wake up one day and realize that you actually *LIKE* him and it's the rest of the band that's suffering from a bit of the ol' "Where's My Tooth." That's me in a shell filled with nuts. I enjoy Steven! Good work, Steven! You're my "man," Steven! Your words are witty, odd and easy to understand, and I shall not argue with literature people who want to argue your merits or lack thereof. Oscar Wilde could be funny, I guess. I don't read much fiction. But you, Steven -- your turns of phrase are so cutting, odd and filled with surprise! But enough from me. I'm not here to write.

Other great songs include "The Headmaster Ritual," an uptempo tune with brilliant arpeggiations, longing chord changes and a catchy as hell main break sequence, "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore," a dramatic, romantic doldrum with echoed, unforgettable sorrow weaving through its chorus, and "Nowhere Fast," a great piece of swaggerin' groove jimmy rock/rockabilly about pulling off trousers at people. Ha! Lesser tracks include every other shittyass fucking song on this no-good bouncy acoustic speedy fruity rollicking piece of shit album. Although the title track is pretty scary for a while until the boring piano crap takes over.

Oh no! He's back! Pretend I'm tying my shoes!!!

Augh! I'm caught red-handed! He's pulling out his belt!!!

Augh! He's pulling off his - wait a minute, what am I doing in the men's room?

And who wrote this record review in feces all over the wall!? Someone take a photo so I can post it on the Internet! Get it? The InTURDnet??!?

Oh. You do? How much does it cost?

Is it smelly?

Reader Comments
Only gay guys like the Smiths? That's like saying only gay guys like Belle & Sebastian. I have plenty of straight guy friends who like both of those bands.

I like them too, and I'm gay. So both can like them, ol' Chap.

Meh. My throat really fucking hurts and I should be doing work (because I'm at work -- shh, don't tell anyone!!). My uhhh whataretheycalled are swollen. Those glands on the NECK. And I can't eat anything nor talk very much. It feels like God's wrath everytime I udder a word. Or utter. I dunno!

But yeah you asshole.

How's NYC lately? I'm sort of scared to move up there but I'm going to later in the year, 'cause this farm town IS NOT WORKING OUT.

Sorry for this e-mail.
easily their weakest album. a few less grabbing songs (rusholme ruffians), and a few of them go longer than is necesary, but "that joke isn't funny anymore" is a gem and the US version has "how soon is now". and a lot of people hate it, but i love the title track. possibly related to the fact that i'm a vegetarian. i give it a low 8.
Alright this album’s kind of weak. Morrissey is crying up an annoying storm and the band doesn’t have a clear sense of what it wants to do on this album. I still like probably half the songs and I think it still kicks the ass out of any Cure album. So F U.
Mark's grade is about correct, I suppose. This is 10 tracks (the CD version, anyway), about half of which are really good. "Headmaster Ritual", "That Joke...", "How Soon is Now", and"Nowhere Fast" just kick all kinds of ass. They're unbelievably well written singles. I'm personally pretty fond of "Well I Wonder" as well. There's not really anything wrong with the remainder, it's just not something I listen to very often.

At least the first time you listen, however, you definitely should hear it all the way through, start to finish. Imagine how new and exciting this must have been to mopey teenagers and depressed grad-students in 1984. It made vegetarianism as a fuck-off to the establishment a trend among the sad-sack set, and it instilled in countless school-hating kids the immortal lines "I wanna go home / I don't wanna stay / Give up education as a bad mistake". Pretty big album really, if thought of in the proper context. That's the thing about music that gets lost sometimes when reviewers try to quantify their enjoyment a little too precisely. There might only be a few tracks on this album that I regularly listen to, but that doesn't really detract from "Meat is Murder" as an artistic statement. It just means I don't like the riff (or lack there-of) in 'Rusholme Ruffians". Anyway, that's why I like Mark's reviews. He tells you how the music makes HIM feel, and through that process you know a little more about Mark and a little bit more about the album. I guess Mark's a little like Morrissey in a way, then. They both use their own little personal stories and experiences to get their point across, and they both manage to get it across in a humorous and utterly unique way.

That, and Mark's a celibate gay man just like Morrissey. They have that in common as well.
Boy, this pisses all over the debut for sure.

Nope, you don't have to be a girl or gay to like this more than the debut, which had some variations on the same song for 45 minutes, with maybe a couple exceptions like "Hand In Glove" and "Suffer Little Children." Though I liked "Reel Around The Fountain" too.

Best songs on "Meat Is Murder" are definitely "The Headmaster's Ritual," "Rusholme Ruffians," "How Soon Is Now?", "Nowhere Fast," and "Barbarism Begins At Home." Especially "How Soon Is Now?" (obviously), but also "Barbarism Begins At Home." Great semi-discoid rhythm and bassline going on there.

Why do I like those songs so much? When the guitars are good, they're great, but also: I love Andy Rourke's basslines! This guy is really melodic. That and Morrissey's personality is quite nice in certain doses.

The song I don't like for sure is the title track, which makes me want to eat a couple of nice juicy medium-rare hamburgers just to rub it in Morrissey's face, and I'm not sure about any of the others. They're ok. Not amazing, but not bad either. Just ok.

Probably a 7/10 or maybe a low 8 if I'm feeling generous

Awww man... Unlike the other smiths albums, I actually loved this album when i first heard it, and then the more I heard it, the more I grew to dislike it. One reason for me distancing myself from it now is because I eventually excepted the fact that "How Soon is Now?" is not officially part of the album.

But moving on to what is officially part of the album, I personally don't like the well liked "Headmaster's Ritual." which I find (along with most of the other tracks on the album) to be long, boring and self indulgent. The only tracks I really go for are "Nowhere Fast," "Rusholme Ruffians" and "I Want the One I Can't Have." I guess I like a few others, but I can't remember them now. For what it's worth (not that much) I'll give this album a 6.

Add your thoughts?

The Queen Is Dead - Sire 1986
Rating = 6

This is another strummy album, but it's also quite diverse. Its song approaches cover rock, dance-pop, folk, romantic balladry, polka-reggae, 50sy, swing jazz, spanish and country-western. Corny 80s keyboards hurt a few of the songs, but a couple of nice string arrangements add flavor. But if you want REAL flavor, put A1 Steak Sauce on your hamburger. What do you think a hamburger is - chopped ham? No! It's chopped steak! So use A1 Steak Sauce. And leave your ketchup for the fries. Unfortunately, in focusing on increased stylistic diversity, they forgot to write any compelling melodies.

And by "any," I mean "more than three." I lied at you when I said "any." Uh huh huh huh!

That was intended to represent the sound of me crying in guilt, but somehow it doesn't have that "zing." "Wah" is too infantile. "Sniff" sounds like I'm doing cocaine (which I AM, but that's not what I'm trying to express). (*cries") just seems like the lazy way out.

Well, it's settled! From now on, when I want to cry in text, I'll write, "I'm crying!!! Can't you see??? I LOVE YOU!!!!" Even if I'm crying because the Braves lost. Fuckin' Braves, always losing. Fuck you, Braves! Uh huh huh huh!

No no, I was doing the "Tomahawk Chop" there. It's a Braves fan's way of laughing at the Native Americans for losing their entire country within a couple hundred years.

Because I think I've already said my case about the melodies on here (though let me add that "Frankly Mr. Shankly" sounds like a less catchy They Might Be Giants and "The Boy With A Thorn In His Side" sounds too much like "It's The Same Old Song"), I'd like to focus a bit more attention on Steven's lyrics this time around (though let me add that three songs I love are the folksy, funny Dead Milkmeny "Cemetry Gates," staggeringly romantic and hopeless "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" and uptempo REMy guitar masterpiece "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others"). Is Steven a glib man? A pompous man? I see Steven as a man who wants to be loved on both a personal and global level. He demands an audience, and is so wrapped up in his dreams of early Hollywood or wherever the hell he gets all those film stills he colorizes for their CD covers, that he wants to be a Marilyn Monroe figure -- and voila, he IS one! Gay men and girls who were teenaged when this band was around just LOVE that guy! When I saw him live, two different men ran onstage and knocked him over with their hugs (this actually caused him to end the show early, incidentally. But it was during the encore - I think we just missed the last half of "Bigmouth Strikes Again" or something.). Or perhaps he wants to be remembered as the Oscar Wilde of our time? See, I don't know or care, and I don't feel the need to discuss it so much; I just want to say that I appreciate a songwriter who goes out of his way to create an evocative new set of visuals or to paint a word picture in a way that I would never have considered doing. Be it humorous or not, I like lyrics that sound like they were written by a SmART persOn. These do.

FROM THE TITLE TRACK: "She said, 'Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing'/I said, 'That's nothing. You should hear me play piano.'"

FROM "FRNAKKLY MR' SHNKLY: "Oh, I didn't realize that you wrote poetry/I didn't realize you wrote such bloody awful poetry"

from "I know It's Over": "Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head/see, the sea wants to take me/the knife wants to cut me"

THIS ONE'S FRAM "NEVER HAD NO ONE EVER": "i had a really bad dream/it lasted 20 years, 7 months and 27 days"

FROM "cemetry gateS": "You say: 'ere long done do does did'/Words which could only be your own/You then produce the text from whence it was ripped/(some dizzy whore, 1804)"

Form "Big Mouse Strikes Again": "Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking/When I said I'd like to smash every tooth in your head"

"Vicar In A Tutu," though it wastes some excellent western guitaring on a tune that goes nowhere, does include this fabled couplet: "As Rose collects the money in a cannister/Who comes sliding down the bannister"

And finally "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out": "And if a ten ton truck/Kills both of us/The pleasure and the privilege is mine"

Do ya SEE? Do ya SEE now why all the kids love STEVEN? If I weren't 100% all heterosexual man of steel and machinery, I'd probably be a flittering fop for the wily lil' rascal too!

Reader Comments
FINALLY!! Someone finally brings down the bloated, frilly, wimp-rock of the smiths. I'm still kinda bugged you dissed the Velvets, but you have redeemed yourself with your Smiths reviews. Because, obviously your sole purpose in life is to be respected by random people on the internet. And now your lifelong dream has come true. fuck morrissey! (in a non-homosexual manner)!
I'm sorry Mark, but you're totally wrong about this album. It's my second favourite 80's album, only beaten by Ocean Rain by Echo And The Bunnymen. I like all the songs there, even the less good ones like the whiny "Never Had No One Ever". And "Bigmouth Strikes Again" is a GREAT song! How the hell can not you like that one?? My favourite is either "I Know It's Over" or "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out". These two songs are very sorrowful yet sweet. The Smiths have other good albums as well, but nothing comes close to this brilliance. I give it an easy 10.
one of my all-time favorite albums. it's one of those things i can't quite describe, but the album has a certain feeling that permeates it, something that strikes me as beautiful every time i listen to it. "there is a light that never goes out" is their best song, "bigmouth strikes again" and "i know it's over" are up there too. the whole thing is fantastic, i can't say enough about it. a 10, easily.
I can bear this album but I don’t see why people rank it like it’s one of the greatest albums ever. No Friggin Way. Queen is Dead and Bigmouth are OK. But everything else is so whiny and Morrisnoying. OL’Prind – I wholeheartedly agree with you – the next 2 albums are the best albums of their career.
Good & everything, but not their masterpiece. Matterphact, I don't think The Smiths even HAVE a masterpiece album. They were a singles band if there ever was one.
I have rediscovered the Smiths after hearing some of the latest Morissey stuff. Compared to a lot of the crap out there today this stuff holds up well.

Somebody said the other nite that U2 was the only great 80's music but I like a lot of 80's stuff and I am from the sixties generatyion.

BTW I like the Velvet and even Siouxie.

And Metallica and Chopin and Tom Waits.
I've listened to this one all of the way through shockingly few times. It has some truly great songs on it, and some pretty uneven ones as well. Morrissey is in typically great form, but Marr stumbles a bit in the songwriting department on a few of these, if you ask me. "Frankly Mr. Shankly" is just not up to par by my count, and ditto for "Vicar in a Tutu". Again, like "Meat is Murder" this is an album that deserves to be listened to front to back, but I rarely take the time to any longer. Perhaps I shall today on the drive down to my parents for dinner.

Listen to it again, I mean.

Other than the two tracks mentioned above, it's all pretty essential stuff, but the most essential of the lot are on the "Best of the Smiths" set and other places as well. The absolute classics are "Bigmouth Strikes Again", "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side", "There is a Light That Never Goes Out", and probably the title track, I reckon. Another absolutely necessary-to-own album that you might not actually listen to very often.

But you have to buy it anyway. I say so.
It was only about a year or so ago that I was a pretty major Smiths faggot. There's a number of reasons why I quit being one:

a) 95% of the fanbase are the biggest bunch of losers the world-over, and I, quite frankly, have better things to do than associate myself with them...

b) Morrissey's inability to play any other card except the good ol' love-lorn, bloated, stale, stuck-in-the-past, rap-well-it's-not-real-music Manc loser (which has its charms when you're a depressive teenager) throughout his entire career, despite the fact that his lyrics now (i.e. during the '00s part of his solo career) are nowhere near as witty as they used to once be.

c) I'm nowhere near as depressive as I used to be.

d) I started listening to the Byrds.

But still, I think a six for The Queen Is Dead is a bit harsh. I wouldn't say it's the best thing they put out - Louder Than Bombs gets up there for its size and Strangeways, Here We Come is more diverse and has better singing (i.e. Morrissey finally learned how to sing) - hell, it's nowhere near the 6th best album of the 80s as Pitchfork said.

The title track is one of the most rocking songs they ever did (beaten out by "London"). "Frankly Mr Shankly" has some funy lyrics. "I Known It's Over" drags a little bit but it's kinda heartfelt, I think. "Never Had No One Ever" is fine to begin with, but gets pretty self-indulgent after a while. "Cemetry Gates" is quite nice with it's bouncy melody.

Things REALLY get going on side 2 - no duds at all, if you ask me (which you NEVER do!!! *starts crying*). "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" and "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" are two of the best melodies the group ever composed; so is "Some Girls...". "Vicar In a Tutu" has both a great melody abd a great set of lyrics! I give this one a high eight, or maybe a nine. But not a ten - none of their albums are really tens.
Holy fungus, Prindle, I actually agree with you on an album from a wimpy genre. I think the 6 is just about right.

Say, Smiths fans, why are you so passionate about THIS band, of all bands? Is it the lyrics? Yeah, gotta be the lyrics. Damn lyrics, with their "lit references," their "sexual confusion," their "mope-like qualities". That, and the weird hairdo of the guy singing them. Now, if he would JUST STOP MUMBLING AROUND THE SAME THREE NOTES FOR FIVE MINUTES AT A STRETCH AND SING A CHORUS OR A HOOK OR SOMETHING ANYTHING INTERESTING AT ALL EVER, I would possibly consider this band one of the greatest of all creation too. But since this Morrissey fellow apparently thinks such things are beneath him, fuck him.

Well, not literally, but yeah.

I've heard decent things about his solo album "Your Arsenal", though. However, if he does the same interminable three-note mumble thing there, I ain't listening past the first song.

Hey! I felt empowered by your rant at the end of the Rank review, so I'm going to play the Smiths apologist today. You see, if The Smiths had never released The Queen is Dead, I would still think that you're a bit hard on them, but would generally agree with your assessment of them as an overrated, wimpy jangle-pop band. However, they DID release this album, and I love it. I know this is the cliched cop-out justification for classic albums with a ton of crappy songs, but this is a "vibe" album. This is where The Smiths finally perfected the wistfully melancholy and literate atmosphere they always seemed to want, with plenty of humor and melody. Think of this as The Smiths' Led Zeppelin III, their "mystical" album, an anomaly in their catalogue somehow containing most of their best songs. (tangent: give the ten back to LZIII, and stop pretending "the Crunge" isn't an abomination!!!)

You seem to feel differently, but I think that The Queen is Dead, not Strangeways, is where Morrissey really made the big leap in his singing. As a bonus, he doesn't do any of that awful growling shit he discovered on the next album. While his mannerisms could be irritating on the first two albums, here his singing is smooth, and he even does some great scat singing in "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side." The lyrics are some of his best as well. THANK YOU for loving Cemetry Gates! It always seems to be forgotten in discussions of this album, but it's one of my favorite Smiths songs, and the lyrics are hilarious. Meanwhile, Frankly Mr. Schankly and the title track also have great lyrics and are bouncy-fun and rockin' (respectively), and although "I Know It's Over" takes a while to sink in, it DOES have a great melody, and it's their most emotionally poignant song ever. "There is a Light" is, as everybody seems to agree, great. You're an asshole for not liking "the boy with the thorn in his side" (sorry to be frank, but it's true), and who cares if "Bigmouth" has sped-up backing vocals? So does that Flipper song!

I'll admit that I can't really defend "never had no one ever" or "vicar in a tutu." The former isn't offensive, and at least maintains the atmosphere, even if it's kind of morose. The other is a silly rockabilly throwaway, but at least it's short. Those are the only blemishes though! I'm sorry, but I discovered this album knowing NOTHING about the band, and I love it so. It saddens me to see it bashed and derided as over-hyped girly nonsense. Yes, some of the album may be girly. What's so bad about girls? Would you rather listen to "Louder than Bombs?" All their non-album singles are sunny and happy and sound the same. I can't even hum "is it really so strange" without accidentally having it morph into "sheila take a bow"! And Sure, there's a chunk of about 5 great songs stuck in the middle of Strangeways, but you don't get there until the fourth track, and then it just peters out again. The Queen is Dead is a classic all the way through.

Thanks for bothering to read all this crap, that's pretty much all I have to say. Since you're a sort of resident guru in regard to these things, and I doubt Weird Al would respond to my emails, I wanted to get your opinions or suggestions for improvement on some parody tunes that I sing to myself in my head and think are hilarious:

"Some Girls is Better Than Exile"

From Rolling Stone
To Blender
Music critics contested me
when I said...
Some Girls is Better than Exile
Some Girls is better than Exile
Voodoo Lounge is better than Beggar's Banquet

And here's one I cowrote with my girlfriend to the tune of "Waiting for Tonight" by Jennifer Lopez:


Tonight you'll be fucking my corpse
My vagina might be a bit coarse

Sorry about that last one. Good luck job hunting. I love you, even though I only know you as an internet personality!

I like the layers and layers of irony that everybody gets off on these days. That and the aesthetic relativism bullshit; it's only your opinion, ect etc etc. Try telling that to the police after you;ve sodomised a donkey? Right. Irony about irony, things so ironic that their not ironic, things so unironic that their ironic, etc. "Seque": It's great when you're listening to the smiths because whenever morrisey strikes a chord inside the deep guitar of your heart, you can ahhh in its intergrity and sincerity. Then when it starts to feel like being raped by a sponge, suddenly he's being IRONIC. He's making fun of his feyness as well as teasing the people who were mean to YOU for not being fey enough. See that's what good music let's you do; impose your own feelings on it. Same thing applies even more so to morriseys voice; but personally I love it anyway. It's the sort of thing that if anyone else did I'd instantly despise, but I think it's something about the uniqueness of it, the sensitive, pained, self indulgent, very "proper" sounding english accent that goes almost too well with the music and lyrics. If someone else did it it would feel contrived, (which is fine) as well as completely uncreative, (which gives much less resonance to the music). As you say not all of the songs are that good, although I'd say they're a fair bit better than a 6 on the prindometer.? And how can you review an entire album without mentioning anything about any of the songs except quoting the lyrics of a few of them? Why do I enjoy reading it?

There is a light, big mouth, queen is dead, cemetry gates, are fantistique, the others are FINE. And if you get bored change the songs, it's not hard. I know it's over also seems to be about needing to bone his mother, so it goes well with his other song about raping children around the patio; reel around the fountain? Something like that anyway.

I can see how this album blew people's minds when it came out. Even though it took me a while, I personally like this album a lot. The title tracks sets things off in fine fashion, and sounds like a precursor to Morrissey's song "The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils." The voices get a little irritating after a while, but it's still great. "Frankly Mr. Shankly" is a fun poppy song and "I Know it's Over" is pretty cool too. The other two songs on side one aren't cool, and I find nothing interesting about either of them. They're boring and have nothing really going for them.

Side two manages to make it all the way through. It seems that all of Morrissey's depressing ramblings from the previous album are still here, but set to melodies and aren't as long. For what it's worth (a lot) I'll give this one an 8.

Add your thoughts?

Louder Than Bombs - Sire 1987
Rating = 7

I fail to see how a bunch of peppy pop songs could be considered "louder than bombs," unless (a) they're being piped through an extraordinarily large theater sound system or (b) extremely small, ineffective bombs are being used as a basis of comparison. Either way, let's say something here, something short and sweet: On this album, The Smiths reveal themselves to be a truly great melodic folk rock-inspired guitar pop band. I know the "7" doesn't seem all that noteworthy, but that's because it's deceiving. See, every other Smiths album is about 35 minutes long with 10-12 tracks. This one is 74 minutes with 24 tracks. That means that not only is this CD more consistent than the last three albums, it's also got a fuckload of great songs on it! In fact, by my count, a full THIRTEEN of these tracks represent just unbelievably intelligent, charming and original melodic guitar music. And I don't know if you saw that movie Thirteen, but believe you me -- those little girls were doping and fucking alright!

Which reminds me of a movie I watched the other night. Have you heard of Alex De Renzy's Babyface? Well, it's a hardcore pornography film from the late 70s or early 80s or some SHIT. And the concept (or rather, one small part of a larger concept) is that this schoolgirl is a little slut who tries to get men to have sex with her. Right near the beginning, she has sex with this really tall guy in a shed and then they don't show her much from then on. And, you know, you can tell the actress is at least 18 and everything, and that she's faking her "dumb schoolgirl" accent, but she's shaven in the you-know-where and her chest is pretty flat so you can believe she's actually a schoolgirl. Wearing that uniform and everything. So anyway, you kinda figure, "Well, girls are in high school generally til they're 17 or 18, so okay, this mother's upset because her barely legal daughter has just been taken advantage of, blah blah blah." That's what you figure. But then right near the end of the film (long story, so I'll skip it), the girl's mother screams something about wanting to kill the man who "raped my 15-year-old daughter!" And this of course is the part where my brain jolted "WHAT THE HELL!?" I mean, they EASILY could have made the girl 18, or easily could have never addressed the girl's age at all. But here they were, admitting that the goal of that sex scene from a full hour earlier was to make you, the viewer, believe that you were watching a 15-year-old girl have sex. So I'm sitting there thinking, "Man, the late '70s and early '80s certainly were a DIFFERENT time then, weren't they?" And what is the very next, and final, scene in the movie? TWO GUYS FUCKING THE FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER!!!!!! I was on the floor! I mean, WHAT THE HELL??? Was it really legal to do shit like this back then? Heck, is it NOW!?!? Again, the actress was clearly 18, but still -- I just couldn't believe it! I subsequently awarded it an Academy Award.

Made out of sperm.

But pedophile hardcore porn aside, this CD is a compilation of various Peel sessions, singles, b-sides, compilation tracks and rarities that the band recorded between 1984 and 1986, only one of which (the awesome "Hand In Glove") also appears on any of the studio albums. The mix is MUCH stronger than on any of the last three records, with louder guitars and tons of REMy-type speedy jangle material. If you ever get a hankering to buy a Smiths album just to see what the fuss is about, you HAVE to make it this one. Gorgeous guitar tones abound, and it features some tunes so non-Smithsy that they wouldn't have had an eyeball's chance in Hell of making it onto the album (I'm specifically thinking of "London," a roaring, stomping distorted garage rocker! Raw raunchy guitar rock -- from the Smiths!?). There's no point really in going through the process of naming all the great songs - just buy it and listen. The melodicism -- I swear, man. Just hummable tunes galore, built upon catchy guitar arpeggiations, driving rhythms unheard of elsewhere in the Smiths canon, washes of clean nourishing six-strings and Steven right there on top, doing zany things like requesting a lullaby for his suicide slumber and emotionally crooning a verse entirely composed of the word "Etc." Basically, if you like prime-era REM (pre-Document), get off your high horse and listen to John Marr and Steven run wild with their young rhythmic sexion! You won't even feel like a GIRL this time!

I'll warn you, though, that there are a few stinkers here and there. If there weren't, a 7 would be much too low a grade. Those who enjoy drab Honeydrippers-style balladry will kill a nut for "Golden Lights," fans of dull backing tracks disguised as instrumentals will give a thumbs way up the ass of "Oscillate Wildly," appreciators of the soulless happy lounge jazz procreated by Dire Straits will lobe "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" (though admittedly the lyrics are hilarious -- "I was looking for a job, and then I found a job/And Heaven knows I'm miserable now"), and if you're some goddamned neo-hippie sitting with a flower girl in a field of green strumming an acoustic guitar, feel free to take "Stretch Out And Wait" off of my copy for your iPod. And DON'T BRING IT BACK.

Isn't that how iPods work? They suck the music off your CDs so you just have a bunch of blank CDs lying around to use as drink coasters? I hope so, because I'm out of drink coasters and the stores are all closed for the Sabbath.

BLACK Sabbath, that is!!!! (*Tony Iommi rips into a gut-punching riff, Geezer Butler pounds away on his heavy horse bass, Bill Ward bashes and crashes in and around a 4/4 beat, some guy with a mullet and high voice sings lead*)

(*five minutes pass*)

(*some other guy with a mullet and high voice sings lead*)

Are "Panic" and "Rubber Ring" classics? I don't think they're that great, but Steven played them at that concert so maybe they are. At any rate, they're on here. The former asks the listener to hang the DJ, and the latter asks the listener to remember the music that he grew up with. I shall choose to do NEITHER! That's because I'm a nihilist. I believe in nihil. Of course I'm also a realist. I believe in the real. But I guess more than anything else, I'm a Santa Clausist.

Reader Comments
The Smiths are impossible for me to get into personally and yea its down to whether u enjoy his singing or not…fuck Johnny Marrs guitar playing coz it aint that noticeable anyway!!! I must admit I prefer reading a Morrissey interview then listening to a Smiths CD. And I definitely rather watch Alex de Renzy’s “Wild Things” with Traci Lords, which in one scene depicts her as a schoolgirl (she looks about 15!!! This should’ve been banned ) returning home after school and fucks the shit outta the middle aged gardener dude who is obsessed with the youthful beauty…of course he gets his hands all over her and inside her!!!! Damnit I would become middle aged gardener if I wasn’t 17!!! Hehhehe awful flick good sex!!! Oh and the smiths aint a very good band.
a lot of songs. but most of them are great or at least good (except for the golden lights cover). i'm not sure what else to say. a 9.
I’m a little ashamed to say this but this may be one of my favorite albums ever. Probably top 5. I’M NOT A FAG. Ok? But I know great melodies and tasty little ditties when I hear them. This is as good as new-wave 80’s music EVER got. Suck my U2 balls and lick my Cure vagina cause this is the album that made me into a Smiths/Morrissey fan.

BTW – Prindle I think I was at the same Morrissey show at Radio City that you were at. I heard you babbling about it on Music Babble and realized you were going to the same one. He’s very good live. I’ve seen him 3 times and he never spooged in my face – not once!
Before I start my review, I would like to ask two questions to no-one in perticular:

1) Where were the Smiths when I was a teenager? I wished I had discovered them when I was one. They would've been a good listen regarding 'teen angst' and whatnot.

(just to put this in perspective, i listened to "Quadrophenia" by the Who, "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" by Genesis, and "The Wall" by Pink Floyd when I was a teenager) and ----- ........ wait a minute - those are all rock operas! What am I talking about? What do those have to do with the Smiths?

2) Where are "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" and "How Soon is Now" ?!! Yeah, i know, this is a greatest hits / b-sides / etc. collection, but come on! The total running time is only 72:49! Or, if they could not sacrifice running time, then what discarding one or two songs from the tracklist?! Anyway, what's done is done. That's my rant for the day.

(a few minutes later)

Anyway here's the quick album review:

this is my first Smiths album. I like approx. half the songs, the rest are OK. IMHO, these are the highlights: "Is it really so strange?", "Shoplifters of the world unite", "Sweet and Tender Hooligan", "Panic", "You Just haven't earned it yet, baby", "Heaven knows i'm miserable now", "Please please please let me get what i want", and "Asleep".
Absolutely fan-fucking-tastic! (I've always wanted to type that.) This one is chock full of great Morrissey/Marr compositions like "Irresponsible Hate Anthem", "Anti-Christ Superstar", "Tourniquet" and "The Beautiful People". No, shit. That's Marilyn Manson.

This one is chock full of great Morrissey/Marr compilations like "Is It Really So Strange", "Sheila Take a Bow", "Shoplifters of the World Unite", etc, etc, the list goes on and on and I'm not here to type out the entire damned track listing. These are compiled album tracks, singles, and unreleased bits that probably make for the strongest single disc release in the Smiths' discography. There's no concept, and they're not even trying to link these tracks together thematically, which is a tendency which sometimes got them into trouble on full length albums. These are just twenty four (24!) tracks on a disc, at least twenty of which are absolutely tits. For the love of God or whatever God-like figure you make up for yourself, buy this album and listen to it repeatedly. But heed my warning: SKIP GOLDEN LIGHTS!!!!! IT'S TRACK 14!!!!! SKIP IT!!!!!! IT WILL MAKE YOU VOMIT!!!!!!!

I'm serious about the vomit thing.

Sure it's overkill (24 songs? coming a month after another compilation that had 16 songs? come on!), but there is some fantastic stuff on here, some of it on Marr with some of the best Morrissey solo stuff. Yes, that includes "Is it Really So Strange?" and "Sheila Take a Bow" probably my favorite two smiths songs not called "Reel Around the Fountain" and "The Queen is Dead". "Golden Lights" gets a lot of shit from fans but I love it. "Shoplifters" is a great song too, but a better version of it can be found on "Morrissey Live at Earls Court". I could go on and on explaining how much I love these songs except for "Ask" (why was this released as a single and "Half a Person wasn't...) but I'd rather not. I'll give this a 9.

Add your thoughts?

Rank - Sire 1988
Rating = 5

Jiminy Crickets, was their goal to perform only the most mediocre songs in their catalog? What's with all the Queen Is Dead shit? That's simply not a good album! Sure it's famous, but that's because they give you a free copy when you sign up for a bathhouse membership. If it's memorable melody you're after, you have to look elsewhere in the band's catalog (preferably Strangeways or one of the 4,000,000 compilations on the market). So a live album featuring SIX Queen Is Dead songs can pretty much take a hike if you ask me, even if it also has four from Louder Than Bombs, two from Meat Is Murder, one from The Smiths, and one new instrumental that's just a dumbed-down version of "Trampled Underfoot," as this one does. You hear me, album? Take a hike! Preferably Hitch-Hike starring David Hess because I can't find a cheap copy of that anywhere.

When not wallowing in romantic muzak, the Smiths could kick up some good punky energy akin to the first REM EP, but too often Johnny Marred the tunes with ass-basic chord progressions. Especially on this particular release. "Bigmouth Strikes Again" is actually better than the album version (the guitar chords sound sadder, and it doesn't have those stupid high-pitched vocals), and the band's formidable-when-used-correctly songwriting talent is displayed in "Cemetry Gates," "Ask" and "Still Ill," but Jesus Figueroa, "Vicar In A Tutu"? Is there a hook buried in there that only dogs can hear or something? And don't get me STARTED on "Rusholme Ruffians" (yeah, more like "Violente Femmians!"), "I Know It's Over" (yeah, more like "I Know It's Not Over For Another Seven And A Half Minutes!"), or "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" (yeah, more like "It's The Same Old Song With The Thorn In Its Four Tops"! that one didn't work). I won't even say anything else about the album, it makes me so mad.

Oh, also the guitar tone is really trebly. BUT THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING! I'M DONE NOW! THIS ALBUM IS OFFICIALLY IN MY PAST!





. Hmm.



Wow, I'm really starting to miss it. Maybe I should have appreciated it more when I had the chance. But I guess you never get a second chance to say goodbye.

I don't know what I'm searching for.
I never have opened the door.
Tomorrow may find me at last
Turning my back on the past.
But time will tell of stars that fell
A million years ago
Memories can never take you back
Home, Sweet Home
You can never go home anymore.

I tell you what - it's hard to please everybody. That's why I fail to do so. Let's look at a few concrete examples. First of all, it is in nobody's best interest for you to post one of my reviews on a message board devoted to a specific artist or band (I'm lookin' at YOU, Cramps, Tori Amos, Frank Black and Ween message board Prindle review posters). Those people are NOT going to like my reviews. In fact, I'd wager that 90% of the people who frequent artist-specific message boards do so because they (for whatever reason) take that artist EXTREMELY SERIOUSLY. And as you may know, my reviews don't take anything seriously. I meander, I make up knock-knock jokes, I curse like a salesman, I tell complete lies because I think they're funny - I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL CRITIC. Think of my site as a "Blog Away From Home" but without the "Blog" and with the "Dick Jokes." And believe me, I know quite well that my writing style is not for everybody. Half the time, it's not even for me!

But a few misconceptions need to be cleared up -- first of all, I am NOT "another non-musician writing about music." I AM a musician. I play the guitar fairly interestingly, I've written thousands of tiny little songs, and I've recorded several CDs both with a band and without, all of which you can find reviewed by other people elsewhere on this site. So I do have some idea of how easy or difficult it is to craft innovative songs and perform them in interesting ways. I am also not "an arrogant asshole." I'm simply trying to make my writing entertaining; I'm under no misconceptions that my particular musical tastes should match everybody else's. But I'm not going to pretend to appreciate something that I think sucks, even if it's celebrated as an all-time classic like half of Miles Davis's fucking unlistenable discography.

And here's something else about why it's impossible to please everybody: half of the people who email me say, "Stop reviewing all these bands nobody's ever heard of! Where are your Wings reviews?" and the other half say, "Enough with the popular bands that are already reviewed everywhere else! When are you gonna review The Celibate Rifles?" Well see, I have a list of over 450 artists I could review RIGHT NOW (August 17, 2005) - but it's a long process. I'll get to all the famous and non-famous ones eventually; I'm just not there yet. So all you Elton John and Child Molesters fans just hold tight! I'll get yer yet!

Another thing, although this hasn't come up recently: I'm not a racist, homophobe or misogynist. When I make jokes that appear racist, homophobic or misogynist, it's usually due to a typo (ex. "The Beatles Rule" becomes "I Hate Niggers, Especially Gay Ones and Women"). In real life, I have thousands of non-white friends, millions of gay relatives and googols of snatch I stick my dick up.

And finally, send more reader comments. If you don't want your email posted, just tell me "Don't post me email address!" and I'll just put your first name or nickname or whatever you want. Or I could just attribute it to Pedro Andino. But send more. People want multiple opinions in life, not tuberculosis! Is that what you would prefer? That everybody contract tuberculosis because you're too lazy to send in a reader comment? Thanks for nothing, BREASTHOLE.

One more thing: I appreciate you. And that's something none of those other record reviewer pricks can say. Especially Greg Kot. Did you know he responds to fan email by pissing on his computer and hitting 'send'? Not me though. I appreciate you. In fact, let's make today "Fan Appreciation Day"! Just send me an email saying "I'm a fan!" between now and midnight tonight and I'll give you a thousand dollars! Thank you and goodbye. Especially thank you.

Offer good between 5:30 PM and 12:00 AM, August 17-18, 2005. All late entrants agree to pay a 'late fee' of $1000.00.

Reader Comments
ha. this is my favorite smiths record because it's live and for some reason late 80's live records do not sound like 80's studio overproduced plastic crap. unfortunately, all smiths studio records (are great but) sound like crap and i'm glad to hear drums that sound like REAL drums. without a ton of reverb on snare drum.

i hope you're comfortable with people putting your quote in their signatures because i've just done that.

oh yes, more punk reviews please.
Prindle please keep in mind that for every yahoo who writes in complaining about your writing style, musical taste, and appearance there are THOUSANDS who are silently cheering you on. Sorry about the silent part. Also you should advertise more. That's how morons know what "good" is. Please keep inspiring us to listen to music in any way you like.
did it really come to the point where you had to make that lengthy disclaimer? I figured people would at least understand that you are kidding even if they don't find your writing funny.

By the way I've only heard 'The Queen is Dead' in my car and couldn't get past the 7th track. I was shocked to learn later that this is considered one of the greatest albums of all time.

This is the only live Smiths album out, and unfortunately at this rate the only live Smiths well probably get. I wouldn't give a shit about this if there weren't already like 5 or 6 compilations out (2 of them having the word "singles" in the titles). Being a fan of about everything the Smiths did aside from like 5 songs, I really like this album. I agree that the definitive version of "BSA" is on here and I don't know what got into who put this album together but most of my favorites are on here. Only complaints would be "I Know it's Over" shouldn't have stretched on for 7 minutes (for fucks sake...), and "Ask" and "Cemetry Gates" shouldn't be on here in the first place. Somehow I prefer this album over any Smiths studio release.

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Strangeways, Here We Come - Sire 1987
Rating = 7

At some point, Steven became a better singer. Maybe after the second album? He just seems much more comfortable now, and less likely to return to the same note over and over again. On some of these (especially the fuzzy swingin' "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"), he darn tootin' plays witty games with his mic, dripping honeywax, sarcasm, sflaj, growls and sputters all over his adoring fan base through the medium of vocals with instrumental accompaniment.

More importantly, this final album is their most melodic full-length studio recording yet. The guitar tones are beauteously delicate and gentle, and the mix is bursting with unorthodox instruments - accordions! horns! ukeleles! harmoniums! violins! organs! sound FX! saxophones! All this and John "Guitar" Marr's Guitars by Marrs! It's full, lush, sflaj, melodic, and half of the songs are instant classics. Let me skip a line here because I have something important to say.

I owe Michele Navarette a major-league apology. Now I grant you that she's married and has a different last name now, but this isn't about you. It's about HER. When I was 16, I drove her to school in my sexy convertible 1983 Oldsmobile and, although a punk rocker by trade, allowed her to choose the music in the morning. Inevitably it was girl music, her being a girl, so I grew an early loathing for perfectly sflaj bands like The Cure, The Smiths and The Violent Femmes. I associated these bands with "pansy music," which is pretty funny considering how skinny, cowardly and easily beatuppable I was at the time (not that I'm James Cagney now, but I do hold a high brown belt in Tae Kwon Do so hopefully I have at least SOME self-preservation skills). But I was young, dumb and full of gum; how can I forgive me? Michele was right though. How on Earth could I have EVER hated songs as wonderfully catchy and hummable as "Death Of A Disco Dancer," "Girlfriend In A Coma," "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" and "Unhappy Birthday"? I mean, do songs even GET any better? Sure, they get HARDER, but sflaj, listen to those melodies! I'm thinking Beatles, Byrds, Beau Brummels -- all the good things in life! Sure, the edges are soft and round, but it's not like the Beatles were exactly tearing speed metal ass in their day. So there you go, Michele -- you were right about this CD. It's friggin' good!!!

Wouldn't it be awesome if Michele has actually grown to hate this album over the years? It would be like we did a complete 180 in life! Hell, 190! Like how I'm finally really into death metal now that I'm 31, while Vinita Cheema - the first metalhead I was ever friends with - gave it up for dance music by the time she was 18! Life such is a swell ride. Everyone should take it! Especially paraplegics!

As usual, not every song is to my liking -- a few melodies angrily resist hookiness and the bouncy neo-oompah serious keyboard crap song that starts off the album is a total American Drag in every way -- but it's by far the most melodic, well-arranged and sflaj studio album that the band ever produced.

But why are the lyrics so drenched in death? "A Rush A Push And The Land Is Ours" is a tale told by a ghost (unless it's metaphorical), "Death Of A Disco Dancer" and "Death At One's Elbow" are self-explanatory, "Girlfriend In A Coma" is not going to pull through, the "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" weirdo explains that he "smelt the last ten seconds of life/I crashed down on the crossbar," "Paint A Vulgar Picture" details the commercialization of a dead pop star (over an excruciatingly neutral sflaj/anti-sflaj instrumental backdrop), "I Won't Share You" warns that "life tends to come and go," and the singer notes that the recipient of his "Unhappy Birthday" wish will not elicit tears if his life shall pass for he is wicked and he fibs. That's death in EIGHT of 10 songs!!! And I think one of the other two is about an attempted rape! (It might not be though; I've never been all that perceptive re: poetry) Incidentally, "Strangeways" is a British mental institution, and that's NOT a photo of Steven on the CD cover. You know, even though I k now that to be the case, every time I look at it, I STILL think it's him! The guy just has that blushing smirk I've always associated with Steven. Crazy!

Incidentally, if you'd like to hear some REALLY good Smiths, check out Mark E., Sflaj, and Robert (of The Fall, The Sflaj and The Cure respectively).

Reader Comments
I always wanted to like "The Smiths." Thing is, I get along famously with those that love "The Smiths." I'm now approaching thirty and can finally say, "I like The Smiths." It just sounds kind of cool, "The Smiths." Now when someone brings them up I immediately say, "Hey, I like The Smiths." Then they think I've liked "The Smiths" all along which I haven't but I'm a fake bastard so it kind of works. Glad to see "The Smiths" on your site.
the first 6 songs are amazing. the last 4 are good. combine that together and i still give it a 9.
Stop saying Sflaj, Mark.

And yes, this is a great album. Never much liked "Girlfriend in a Coma" though. The music is far too faggy for me to believe any of these fuckers ever had a girlfriend, comatose or not.

Their final studio album, which is a fact that bugs the shit out of me. They broke up when I was six, but for some reason I'm so emotionally attached to the Smiths that it actually bothers me that all four of these men are still alive and yet there will be no more Smiths albums. They're one of the few groups that I like so much that I actually care that they've parted ways. (Like the Beatles, or Winger.)

I'm one of those dippy Smiths fans who's going to name his kid Morrissey though, so maybe I lack emotional perspective on the world.
Hey marky mark,

Strangeways was never a mental institution but is a prison. Famous inmates were Harold Shipman (British serial killer with over 250 victims), ian brown (from the stone roses) and it holds over 1200 inmates. God bless wikipedia.
So now that you've come around to liking the Cure and (to a lesser degree) the Smiths, when are you going to give the Violent Femmes another shot? Their first album's a classic, man!

Yeah, god bless Wikipedia, and Morrissey while he's at it. I just read there it was he who put together "Rank" (however, he left out "There is a Light", grrrrrr....)

Just now looking at the track listing on wikipedia, I realized this is my favorite Smiths studio album. It gets a solid 9 from me, the only one reeking of filler would be "Death at Ones Elbow", which sounds like a lame rewrite of "Vicar in a Tutu". Not that the Smiths had a lot of diversity in the first place (that would be Morrissey's solo career), this is their most diverse album. We get glam, rockabilly, ballads and pop all smithified for our listening pleasures. Hard to pick a favorite here but it might be either tracks 2 or 5. Names are too long, so I don't wanna waste my phone battery even more by typing them out.

Add your thoughts?

The Best Of The Smiths, Vol. 1 - Sire 1992
Rating = 7

Who was the rocket man who put THIS thing together? No "A Girl Like You"? No "Too Much Passion"? Not even any "Blood And Roses"? It's as if the compiler had never even HEARD The Smithereens before! I mean, it's one thing to

Who were the brain police that decided to release two greatest hits CDs by a band with only FIVE CDs to begin with? Why not just buy all five? Especially since, by my calculations, both of these discs are missing a full FIFTEEN of the best songs this band ever recorded! Let's address this first one first though. Keep things in chronological order by number. This one is kind enough to feature such wildly fantastic pop songs as "Stop Me Ohhhh Stop Me, Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before," "Girlfriend In A Coma, I Know, I Know It's Serious," "Half A Person Who Was Sixteen, Clumsy And Shy, And Went To London And I (He) Booked Myself (Himself) In At The Y... WCA," "How Soon Is Now? I Ask Because I Am Human And I Need To Be Loved Just Like Anybody Else Does," "Hand In Glove, I'm Gay," and "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, Some Girls' Mothers Are Bigger Than Other Girls' Mothers," but where are the other hits? Where are the other great songs? Are you high? These other songs aren't great! Just LOOK at them!

Okay, because unlike Gerald Ford I'm a public servant, I'm going to list for you the CORRECT track listings of "Mark Prindle Presents The Smiths' Goodest Songs." Make these discs for yourself off of those illegal MP3 deals and you'll be so happy, you'll think the Smiths were a lot better than they actually were. Here, it follows:

DISC ONE shall include "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle," "Still Ill," "The Headmaster Ritual," "The Joke Isn't Funny Anymore," "Cemetry Gates," "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out," "Is It Really So Strange?," "Sweet And Tender Hooligan," "Half A Person," "London," "Girl Afraid," "Shakespeare's Sister," "Death Of A Disco Dancer" and "Girlfriend In A Coma."

DISC TWO shall include "Hand In Glove," "Suffer Little Children," "How Soon Is Now?," "Nowhere Fast," "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others," "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby," "Ask," "These Things Take Time," "The Night Has Opened My Eyes," "Unloveable," "Asleep," "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before," "Unhappy Birthday" and "Paint A Vulgar Picture."

See that? That was 28 great songs by The Smiths. These two legitimate "Best Of" CDs contain the same total number of tracks, but only half (or 14) of them are great. You see, the other 14 they picked were the wrong songs. I picked the right ones. That's the difference between me and the FOOLS that compiled these BONE-HEADED CDs. Ignore them. Either steal my non-existent greatest hits comps from the rich or get off your friendly ice and buy all five Smiths releases; you don't need this "pick and choose some good ones and some that are just okay" crap.

This first disc, FYI, includes 3 songs from their debut, 1 from MIM, 1 from TQID, 7 from LTB (THAT'S A FULL HALF OF THIS DISC PULLED FROM A SINGLE CD) and 2 from SHWC. Worst idea ever? Since a smallpox vaccine, I'd say for damn straight!

Reader Comments
For the longest time I thought that these two "Best of..." discs were sequenced chronologically, and I was very confused. Turns out somebody just threw them all in a bag and pulled them out at random, but here's the good bit: all of the songs that got thrown in the bag to begin with were absolutely Da Bomb (TM), so however they pulled the suckers out of that bag, they were gonna come out being Da Bomb (TM).

This one is 14 tracks of Smiths-Brand Goodness (also TM), not one stinker in the bunch. One can complain about omissions (as one does above), but there's nothing wrong with any of the songs that made the cut. Plus, they're all the best versions available of all of these tracks (to my ears, anyway). You've got your "This Charming Man". You've got your "Please Please Please Let Me Get A Waffle". You've even got your "Hand In Glove".

So why do you got your hand in a glove? It's frickin' August. Get that thing outta there!
Yesterday the state of California voted to ban gay marriages. Let’s hope this doesn’t lead to hordes of gays and lesbians rioting in the streets and looting appliance stores. Anyway, I thought I’d take this special occasion to comment on the Smiths and their big fag lead singer, Morrissey. I recently went back to listen to their Singles album and found it a little disappointing. I really liked the Smiths back in the day and musically, they hold up pretty well. It’s jangley good time music and less “corporate” than a lot of crap that was being sung back then. So what’s disappointing? The problem for me lies with Morrissey’s vocal stylings, which slip into your ear with the velvety tremoloed softness with which a big lubed boner might slip into your ass. Except it doesn’t hurt as much and you won’t get aids. (Uh oh, was that in poor taste?) It’s as if Dean Martin decided to make a rock album and got a great band to back him up. I recall a comment George Martin made once that he liked John Lennon’s voice better than McCartney’s for singing rock and roll. This is also the reason why Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees sang lead way more than Davy Jones – even though he was an actor, he had the better rock voice, therefore Davy got to stand in front, play the tambourine and look like a useless dumb-fuck wanker. So I wonder…who told Morrissey he could sing rock music? Someone should have trotted him down to the opera house and left him on the doorstep back in ’81. Looking back, I guess it didn’t bother me back then, so maybe it’s just fashion. Bottom line: Buy the Smiths on karaoke and sing it yourself. Um…like a rock singer, not like Morrissey (or Dean Martin).

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The Best Of The Smiths, Vol. 2 - Sire 1992
Rating = 7

Who were the great guys who decided to save the world's musical purchasers several hundred dollars apiece by culling together the greatest of all possible Smiths songs and putting them on two budget-priced CDs for our enjoyment? Sire Records, thank you! You've done what nobody said you ever could! Imagine getting to hear "The Headmaster Ritual," "Ask," "Still Ill," "Nowhere Fast," "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore," "Shakespeare's Sister," "Girl Afraid" and "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" all on the same CD! I've never dreamt it could come to this but it did! And then who else would have thought to fill up the rest of the CD with such stellarly kickass 1-mile-an-hour classics as "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and "Reel Around The Fountain"," not to mention the astonishingly Morrissey-less "Oscillate Wildly"? That's right! You heard right! The most fillery of all Smiths filler tracks has been included on a greatest hits CD! Could tomorrow bring even greater prizes?

(*angrily pisses all over CD*)

(*wakes up soaked in urine as entire corporate board stares horrified; curses untimely dream about inferior Smiths compilation*)

This second disc, FYI, includes 2 songs from their debut, 3 from MIM, 3 from TQID, 5 from LTB and 1 from SHWC

Reader Comments
"Best of... / Most of... / Satiate the need... / Slip them into a different sleeve... / Buy both and feel deceived..."

Another 14 tracks, all pretty damned great. There are a few more questionable inclusions on this volume than the last, such as "Oscillate Wildly" which doesn't even feature Our Lord Jesus Christ, and "Girl Afraid" which I personally don't care for and therefore is not valid as art and void of any inherrant worth what-so-ever. But over-all, a great disc for your cash.

Buy it for your cash today and your cash will love it. Right? Yup.
Mind you, but The Smiths has got to be one of the most overrated bands in rock history. I just don’t see what the big deal is with these guys. It’s not that they are bad musicians (although they are not too great either) It’s just that they sound so normal, so conventional and uninteresting that sitting down to listen to a Smiths album could end up being a really dull experience (plus Morrissey whines too much). There is just nothing edgy going on in their music; dozens of way more interesting bands were around in those days and they were actually fun to listen to.
>Add your thoughts?

Under Review DVD - Music Video Distributors 2006
Rating = 7

Near the beginning of this documentary, an expert commentator says something like "Morrissey once told the press that he was a member of the fourth sex. He wasn't straight, nor gay, nor even bi, but something new -- and somehow...he pulled it off!" Then every single clip for the next 90 minutes demonstrates that Morrissey is the most blatantly gay homosexual swish man ever born - culminating with a late-period appearance on Top of The Pops wherein he sings while standing perfectly still, moving nothing but his pelvis, which he wiggles around and around and around, thrusting it forward homo-erotically with every beat. Fourth sex? Yeah, if your fourth sex is GAY!

But laughing at gayfers is only one of the many enjoyable activities to be had from the latest MVD DVD BVD. Other highlights include a chronological history of England's The Smiths, as related through rare archival TV/music video footage and the reminiscences and opinions of music critics, producers, musicians and no actual members of The Smiths, as they had nothing to do with this unauthorized documentary. But here's the thing -- for a documentary featuring no input from the band, it's really goddarned good! I for one had never seen any of the TV appearances, videos and band interviews that are excerpted all over creation, and the filmmakers did manage to at least score interviews with people who worked with the Smiths, including a roadie, a short-lived second guitarist, and a few record producers and engineers (including the man who was fired for 'pushing them into a direction they didn't want to go' -- that direction, you ask? The classic "How Soon Is Now," one of the greatest songs they ever recorded!).

Other revelations include the facts that (a) Morrissey was (at the time, at least) an irritating little prissy man who preferred to respond to direct questions with oblique poetry rather than just answering the goddamned questions, (b) Johnny Marr was an insulting prick to the short-lived second guitarist that he himself hired in the first place, and (c) I apparently like The Smiths a lot more than I thought I did, because these songs were punching their fists up my ass and wiggling them around! Presumably this is because the documentary focused chiefly on their hits, because I remember being bored silly the last time I tried to sit through The Queen Is Meat and Dead Is Murder in their entireties.

So take it from me, Gerry Rafferty -- if you're playing your saxophone on Baker Street, there's no better a

So take it from me, Herve Villechaize -- if you're committing suicide because you're short, don't f

So take it from me, "Peter, these are lungs" -- if you're a line of dialogue from the movie Mimic, be sure and p

So take it from me, Henny Youngman -- it's my wife. PLEASE! Also, this DVD is s

So take it from me, Mark Prindle -- if you're a Smiths fan of any age or rate, scurry on down to your local Record Pub and pick up a copy of The Smiths - Under Review. However, a warning for all you ladies -- Morrissey will likely not find you as attractive as you find him.

Because you're FAT! I don't know about the nation, but YOU'RE sure suffering from an obesity epidemic, you fat fuckin' FATASS!!!!

Mark Prindle
President, CEO
Eating Disorders Are Hilarious, Ltd.

Reader Comments

Before you say "Morrissey is the most blatantly gay homosexual swish man ever born", take a look at this photo:
Who gives a fuck about the Smiths?

I mean, come on now, I just don’t see the point in obsessing over such utterly ordinary music. Not that I think they’re bad or anything…just unexciting. How anyone can go apeshit over this stuff and remain unmoved by Sly Stone or Bootsy’s Rubber Band is beyond me. (Apples and oranges, I know, but as of late I’ve become something of a funk music partisan) And call me crazy, but I feel like one of the reasons British people drool over this stuff is its very lack of dynamics or rhythmic interest; I mean, how many Britpop records had decent drumming? Sure, there’s plenty of value in the emotive guitar pop purloined by Morrisey & Co., but Christ, there’s so much more interesting stuff out there. I don’t know, Mark, maybe you know some fellow critic who’s a Smiths fan that could explain the group’s appeal to both of us. Until then, I remain convinced that many of the group’s obsessive fans know very little of what else exists in the pop universe.

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Other Smiths Web Sites

*Buy your Smifs ablums here!

*Click HERE to read an article about Morrissey earning a humanitarian award from PETA. The article details some of the work Morrissey has done for PETA over the past 20 years and allows you to send Morrissey a personal video message thanking him and congratulating him on the award. So do it, or I'll tell everybody you hate puppies!

Back to Mark Prindle, Who Wears A Cardiovascular System On The Outside, Because That's How He Feels On The Inside