BCB 100 - The Smiths

Threads and discussion dedicated to major acts.
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Vic Snazell-Sprey
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Postby Vic Snazell-Sprey » 16 Jun 2006, 19:46

Leg of lamb wrote:
DiamondDog wrote:to be fair, it's highly unlikely that marr would have known what lyrics would have been put to the tune he came up with. generally, he did the music then morrissey added his two pen'orth.


Aye, fair enough. Still, the point stands that it's not a mawkish tearfest.

I've always marvelled at how that partnership must have worked. I mean, did Marr have any idea about what the vocal melodies would have been when he was writing the music?


this is something that fascinates me too. as far as i know, it was the mozz who came up with the vocal melodies - if that's true, he has a great deal more musical talent than he's generally given credit for.

the most famous case of the way they worked, of course, is "some girls are bigger than others". as you probably know, it's generally reported that marr was dismayed that this beautiful piece of music he'd composed was reduced to some base observation on the nature of lust. personally, i think it's one of morrissey's finest moments.

but getting back to the point, anyone who doubts steven morrissey as a musical great should listen to the vocal melodies (as well as the killer lyrics, of course) and the strange and wonderful sounds he's making when he's not even articulating any words. try "well i wonder," for example. it's breathtaking - makes so much other guitar band stuff sound so very ordinary and uninspired.

nobody else was doing stuff like that.
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Matt Wilson
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Postby Matt Wilson » 16 Jun 2006, 19:49

Leg of lamb wrote:I think it is the accepted interpretation, Matt. Or certainly the critically orthodox one after that Songs That Saved Your Life book (which is really good, actually - much more of a fan document than Revolution In The Head and, in some ways, all the better for it).


Just checked it out on amazon. It looks interesting. That makes two books recommended to me today I'll have to check out.

The Rip it Up book by Simon Reynolds was the other.

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Leg of lamb
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Postby Leg of lamb » 16 Jun 2006, 20:00

DiamondDog wrote:this is something that fascinates me too. as far as i know, it was the mozz who came up with the vocal melodies - if that's true, he has a great deal more musical talent than he's generally given credit for.

the most famous case of the way they worked, of course, is "some girls are bigger than others". as you probably know, it's generally reported that marr was dismayed that this beautiful piece of music he'd composed was reduced to some base observation on the nature of lust. personally, i think it's one of morrissey's finest moments.


I really agree there, actually. It's, I don't know, cleansing after the almost uncomfortably heightened emotion of 'There Is A Light ...'. And Marr's guitar is absolutely beautiful isn't it?

but getting back to the point, anyone who doubts steven morrissey as a musical great should listen to the vocal melodies (as well as the killer lyrics, of course) and the strange and wonderful sounds he's making when he's not even articulating any words. try "well i wonder," for example. it's breathtaking - makes so much other guitar band stuff sound so very ordinary and uninspired.

nobody else was doing stuff like that.


When it's put like this, I can see the point. It's funny how I've been oscillating (wildly) in my opinions over this band lately, despite all of my albums being back in Cardiff. I'll have a good listen when I get back.
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Postby Leg of lamb » 16 Jun 2006, 20:04

Matt Wilson wrote:
Leg of lamb wrote:I think it is the accepted interpretation, Matt. Or certainly the critically orthodox one after that Songs That Saved Your Life book (which is really good, actually - much more of a fan document than Revolution In The Head and, in some ways, all the better for it).


Just checked it out on amazon. It looks interesting. That makes two books recommended to me today I'll have to check out.

The Rip it Up book by Simon Reynolds was the other.


Yeah, I'd definitely check it out. I found it a really good read despite not being a Smiths fanatic.

I have no interest in Rip It Up, though. Sounds like someone inflating the importance of the angsty music they listened to in their teens beyond all reason. This is a totally uninformed opinion but not one I feel impoverished for holding.
Brother Spoon wrote:I would probably enjoy this record more if it came to me in a brown paper bag filled with manure, instead of this richly illustrated disgrace to my eyes.

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Postby nathan » 16 Jun 2006, 20:16

Leg of lamb wrote:I have no interest in Rip It Up, though. Sounds like someone inflating the importance of the angsty music they listened to in their teens beyond all reason. This is a totally uninformed opinion but not one I feel impoverished for holding.

It's just a good quick overview of post-punk and new-pop. It's not the most fascinating read but it is very informative if you are interested in that type of music. Simon Reynolds isn't as dry a writer as Jon Savage but he does come close at times. But at least he tells anecdotes.

Me, I still like the Smiths a lot. This thread does make me want to get the first album though.

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Postby Leg of lamb » 16 Jun 2006, 20:21

nathan wrote:
Leg of lamb wrote:I have no interest in Rip It Up, though. Sounds like someone inflating the importance of the angsty music they listened to in their teens beyond all reason. This is a totally uninformed opinion but not one I feel impoverished for holding.

It's just a good quick overview of post-punk and new-pop. It's not the most fascinating read but it is very informative if you are interested in that type of music. Simon Reynolds isn't as dry a writer as Jon Savage but he does come close at times. But at least he tells anecdotes.


This is what I feared might be the case. All of this is said with the grudging knowledge that I will probably end up reading it at some point.
Brother Spoon wrote:I would probably enjoy this record more if it came to me in a brown paper bag filled with manure, instead of this richly illustrated disgrace to my eyes.

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Postby Matt Wilson » 16 Jun 2006, 20:25

Leg of lamb wrote: Yeah, I'd definitely check it out. I found it a really good read despite not being a Smiths fanatic.


Well, that's more or less my take on them. I like the band--or rather I liked them in the '80s. Solid albums, solid singles. Cool guitar sounds and interesting lyrics.

But I think they're praised all out of proportion on this site and that's what puts me off on them twenty years later. That, plus the lyrical theme of Morrisey's words simply don't conect to my life whatsoever. It's like the lyrics of that song..."It says nothing to me about my life." I never was a literature-referencing, Manchester kid in the process of coming out of the closet (but not quite there yet) whining about the dreariness of my life (and all the other Smiths cliches you can think of :lol: ).

I could get with the exotic nature of the whole image when I was in college but now I can see the... God, I don't even know what words to use to describe it now. Something overly Oscar Wilde-like and collegiate, I suppose. Fine at the time but not something I'm ever going to play any more than the Cure or XTC at this stage in my life.

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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 16 Jun 2006, 21:19

Leg of lamb wrote:This is a totally uninformed opinion but not one I feel impoverished for holding.


Wonderful line!

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Vic Snazell-Sprey
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Postby Vic Snazell-Sprey » 16 Jun 2006, 21:28

nathan wrote:This thread does make me want to get the first album though.


you should. it's the most smiths album, if that makes sense. it seemed to the nineteen year old me that it broke all the rules. of course, it was just pop reinventing itself, finding another way to express itself, but i didn't realise that at the time.

for many years i thought that the queen is dead or meat is murder was their finest record but these days i might just take the first one over everything else, warts and all. it's dense and weird and drearily exotic - in that sense, there's nothing else quite like it anywhere. they didn't so much burn the maps with that record as make a half-hearted and slightly risible suicide pact with them.
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Postby Tom Violence » 16 Jun 2006, 23:48

Hatful of Hollow is the definitive Smiths recording. If i was only allowed 10 cds in my collection, that would be one.

'I Won't Share You' is a cracker, my fav (or second fav) from Strangeways.

In some ways I wish they'd carried on just a bit longer. But then that would take away part of their charm.
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Postby geoffcowgill » 17 Jun 2006, 00:20

I was just delighted to find out that The Smiths is available on yourmusic.

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Postby The Red Heifer » 17 Jun 2006, 02:13

slightbreeze wrote:Possibly the greatest band of all time.


They're not, but fuck are they close. I totally bypassed this lot until about 18 months ago, now I can't get enough. Morrissey's voice used to grate on me, but I like it now for some reason.
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Postby Oscar » 17 Jun 2006, 09:07

I always struggle to choose a favourite Smiths album and my opinion has changed backwards and forwards a dozen times. Initially, I generally go for the debut because it had the greatest impact - but Hatful is a better. The Queen Is Dead was more multi-textured and adventurous but Strangeways seemed to persistently demand the recognition it deserved. If we must avoid the compilations the I will tentatively choose the debut (The Smiths) over Strangeways. As for a favourite track ....


Bigmouth Strikes Again
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Miserable Lie
Reel Around The Fountain
This Charming Man
What Difference Does It Make?

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the masked man
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Postby the masked man » 17 Jun 2006, 09:38

Ooh look, it's another Smiths thread. Who knew?

I've explained why I love this band so much, so often that it's getting hard to pluck up the energy to do so again. But with me it does seem to be that I was in the right place at the right time. If you were in higher education, in the UK, in the mid 80s, then this was the band that caught the spirit of the time. Their music was everywehere. I can't separate the music from certain places in my mind, certain events that occurred.

I'm actually pleased that people are now coming to The Smiths without that background - it shows that the appeal can be about more than just nostalgia.

As for favourite albums, I still think that "The Queen Is Dead" has their most jaw-dropping moments, but they're all good. Sometimes, I think "Meat Is Murder" is highly underrared, but I do think that "Strangeways..." is comfortably the weakest of the four 'proper' albums. It also sounded a little tired in comparison to the others, qulaity of songwriting not withstanding.

Top 5 songs:

1. The Queen Is Dead
2. Rusholme Ruffians
3. I Know It's Over
4. This Charming Man
5. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

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Postby The Modernist » 17 Jun 2006, 09:49

Like Andrew, I've written more words than I care to remember so I'll just restrict myself to list my five faves:

1. How Soon Is Now
2. This Charming Man
3. Rusholme Ruffians
4. Nowhere Fast
5. Jeanne.

As to the best album I'd say Hatful Of Hollow, but if I'm restricted to the studio albums proper then the first.

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Postby Minnie, Boss of Appropriate Posting » 17 Jun 2006, 10:20

I am currently unable to have 24 hours without hearing 'You just havent earned it yet baby'.

I love them a little more every day.

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Postby Owen » 17 Jun 2006, 10:25

Do you guys all really still listen to them?

I loved them at the time and wouldn't disagree with any of the plaudits but i can't imagine ever chosing to put them on again.

they sound good when i hear them accidentally, i'm always reminded of how great they are, but i really can't envisage a situation where i would choose to put them on ahead of hundreds of other things i've heard more recently. They are stuck in an era to me

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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 17 Jun 2006, 10:29

Owen wrote:Do you guys all really still listen to them?

I loved them at the time and wouldn't disagree with any of the plaudits but i can't imagine ever chosing to put them on again.

they sound good when i hear them accidentally, i'm always reminded of how great they are, but i really can't envisage a situation where i would choose to put them on ahead of hundreds of other things i've heard more recently. They are stuck in an era to me


I feel that way about them too. Despite fans saying they're timeless, etc. - they're very much of their time. As much so as Duran Duran and the Eurythmics.

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Postby The Modernist » 17 Jun 2006, 10:30

Owen wrote:Do you guys all really still listen to them?



No. I keep meaning to rebuy their stuff, but I don't know if it would speak to me now or not.

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Postby Owen » 17 Jun 2006, 10:34

the name is Coan wrote:
Owen wrote:Do you guys all really still listen to them?

I loved them at the time and wouldn't disagree with any of the plaudits but i can't imagine ever chosing to put them on again.

they sound good when i hear them accidentally, i'm always reminded of how great they are, but i really can't envisage a situation where i would choose to put them on ahead of hundreds of other things i've heard more recently. They are stuck in an era to me


I feel that way about them too. Despite fans saying they're timeless, etc. - they're very much of their time. As much so as Duran Duran and the Eurythmics.


The situations they talk about just dont seem to happen any more, it's not that they are studenty, i never really thought that, but there's something very resonant of thatchers england there to me. Hearing a smiths song, especially the earlier stuff before it became this morrissey Marr soap opera just hails back to a very specific, almost oppressed trapped world view. I've never bought the idea that they were depressing, they were very funny, but they talk about a world that I think (hope maybe) doesn't seem to be there any more. I'm always amazed when i see kids who are getting into them, and they are, they do seem to be latching onto the more generic teen stuff and missing that whole soul crushing small town working class under thatcher and the unions feel.