The Smiths - 80s Songs and Albums
by Mark Nobes, chief editor
I actually used to hate The Smiths back in the mid 80s, mainly because I just found their music and lyrics depressing. Of course, that was the whole point, and by the end of the decade, as my musical tastes developed, I started listening to bands I should have been listening to much sooner.
The Smiths were critically acclaimed and have been described as "one of the most important alternative rock bands to emerge from the British Indie music scene of the 1980s". There is no doubt that The Smiths have influenced many artists. Morrissey's depressing tales of loneliness and misery found a cult following by those bored by the commercial synth/pop bands of the early 1980s. Johnny Marr's complex melodies helped return guitar-based music to popularity.
Signed to the independent record label Rough Trade Records,
for whom they released four studio albums, several compilations, and many non-LP singles, they had limited commercial
success outside the UK while they were still together. They never charted higher than number 10 in the UK pop charts.
Despite still being successful in the British Isles, the band broke up in 1987 after disagreements between Morrissey and Johnny Marr. Marr left the band in August that year, but the band couldn't find anyone to replace him. Since then they have turned down several offers to reform.
- 1984 The Smiths #2
- 1985 Meat Is Murder #1
- 1986 The Queen Is Dead #2
- 1987 Strangeways, Here We Come #2
- 1988 Rank (live album) #2
"HEAVEN KNOWS I'M MISERABLE NOW" (1984)
"WILLIAM, IT WAS REALLY NOTHING" (1984)
How can you stay with a fat girl who'll say:
"Would you like to marry me
and if you like you can buy the ring"
she doesn't care about anything
"BIG MOUTH STRIKES AGAIN" (1986)
Released on 21st July 1986, the band's eleventh single reached #11, and was the first song to include new bassist Craig Gannon. He replaced Andy Rourke who was having problems with drug addiction. However, Rourke soon returned, but Gannon stayed on as a second guitarist, making The Smiths a five piece band.
Apparently, the lyrics were inspired by a news story on Radio One about the Chernobyl radiation disaster and DJ Steve Wright playing "I'm Your Man" by Wham! straight after the report. Morrissey and Marr were pretty incensed by this and decided to write "Panic" as a response to the lyrics having nothing to do with real life.
The B-side features the track Vicar In A Tutu, with the 12" also featuring The Draize Train which was written by Johnny Marr.
"SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD UNITE" (1987)
"SHEILA TAKE A BOW" (1987)
The band were also very unhappy with John Porter's production work and roped in Stephen Street (he later worked with Blur) to take over the reigns for a new recording of the song. Despite all of these problems, the track became the joint highest-charting single for The Smiths reaching No.10 - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now had previously reached #10 in 1984.
"THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT"
This track was released as a single in 1992 to promote the Best II album and reached No.25 in the UK. It was originally a track on the third studio album, The Queen is Dead (1986) and was also released as a double-A side (with a cover of Redondo Beach) by Morrissey in 2005. It made No.11 in the UK singles chart.