‘Reel Around the Fountain’

From the album ‘The Smiths' (1984)

I was never a huge fan of the Smiths’ first album until recently, when I finally got around to giving it the attention it deserves. This is side one, track one, and as good an intro to the Smiths as you can get. Lyrically, it owes a great deal to Shelagh Delaney (what Smiths song doesn’t?), and yet it remains very much a Morrissey lyric.


‘Still Ill’

From the album ‘The Smiths’ (1984), alternative version on’ Hatful of Hollow’ (1984)

I love the triumphalism of this track. To me, it sums up the essence the Smiths as aggressive, sometimes petulant, underdogs. Musically edgy and lyrically ballsy, it remains one of my favourite Smiths songs.


‘Meat is Murder’

From the album ‘Meat is Murder’ (1985)

That thousands of people adopted vegetarianism on hearing this track is a matter of record, and, as arguments go, it’s a compelling one. The opening sound of the abattoir, combined with Morrissey’s claim that “heifer whines could be human cries,” make for an uneasy listen.


‘The Queen is Dead’

From the album ‘The Queen is Dead’ (1986)

Quite simply, for me, this is, musically and lyrically, the most accomplished track that The Smiths ever recorded. I adore the lyrics tying, as they do, the Michael Fagan palace break in with images of “her very lowness” with her head in a sling and contrasted with the hilarious line about Morrissey’s inability to sing, “but you should hear me play piano.” Marr, Rourke and Joyce are stunning on this track.


‘Asleep’

From the album ‘The World Won’t Listen’ (1987)

I don’t know what Morrissey had in mind when he was writing this. Was it a friend committing suicide? The death of a pet? Whatever it was, it clearly affected him tremendously, and this often-overlooked classic is absolutely saturated in a strangely warm melancholy. It’s as though they’re saying, “Whatever you are, whatever you do, it’s alright,” and to me, growing up, this was a very important message. This is, for me, their most moving song.


‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’

From the album ‘The Queen is Dead’ (1986)

Possibly their greatest song. If you don’t like it, go and listen to the Cure.


‘Some Girls are Bigger than Others’

From the album ‘The Queen is Dead’ (1986)

Again, it’s the juxtaposition of the lyrics, bringing a slice of Northern life into the lives of Antony and Cleopatra that makes this one of my favourites. I also love the playfulness of the false fade-in. Who says the Smiths can’t be funny?


‘Girlfriend in a Coma’

From the album ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ (1987)

The first time I heard this, I actually laughed out loud. I love the bass sound, very Steve Harley, almost pseudo-reggae. People who don’t “get” The Smiths often point to this song and ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ as proof of the cheerlessness of the Manc Fab Four, but, to me, it’s the exact opposite. Maybe I’m sick, but I find it hilarious.


‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’

From the album ‘Hatful of Hollow’ (1984) or B-Side to ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’ (1984)

This B-Side is, for me, the very essence of the Smiths. One of the most moving musical moments of my life was last year when Morrissey sang this in Manchester and told the audience that he loved them afterwards. I know he was secretly talking just to me.


‘Ask’

From the album ‘The World Won’t Listen’ (1987)

Name another song where the singer corresponds with a “buck-toothed girl from Luxembourg.” Enough said.







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