The career of The Smiths was characterized by the (back then) inordinate number of compilations they were to issue. The first one saw the light shortly after the release of their eponymous debut, and it was named “Hatful Of Hollow”. The album comprised many songs recorded for radio shows, along with assorted A-sides and B-sides.
As I am sure you recall, one of the main problems the debut album had was that the production was not as punchy as it could have been. That meant the impact of its songs was somehow diluted, and since about half of the tracks that were found on the debut are played live on “Hatful Of Hollow”, this compilation has added appeal. Of these songs, the ones that work best are “Reel Around The Fountain” (the drums are so booming that it sounds like a different song) and an acoustic “This Charming Man” that is even janglier than the original cut. Conversely, “Still Ill” is not that appealing – maybe the added harmonica at the start and at the end is the problem. It just does not fit in. And the live “What Difference Does It Make?” and “You’ve Got Everything Now” are not that removed from the original performances as to make you rethink those versions. However, it is admirable how well Marr plays “What Difference Does It Make?” live, as in the studio more than 15 guitars had been combined. That doesn’t make the song better or worse, but it places his skills in a very favorable light.
One of the featured A-sides is “William, It Was Really Nothing”, a song many propound was about a romantic relationship Morrissey had with some journalist. It is a short and sweet song, but it is easily one of their least effective singles. And while “How Soon Is Now?” is included, the song had not been released as a single yet. Continue reading →
The Album's Title Is A Play On "Borstal, Here We Come" From Billy Liar
The Smiths’ final studio album is a very graceful way to bow out. Leaving aside the presence of some songs that spoil its second side and which are notoriously glaring, the record adheres to the formula that had worked so well before: self-questioning lyrics over jangly guitars and very solid grooves.
The album’s opener is (in my opinion) the best opener of all their albums. The song is called “A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours”, and it has a roaring vocal from Morriseyy while the main melodic instrument is a piano. It is abutted by “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish”, a song which was released as a single. I agree with that decision – while it doesn’t lead the band into unchartered territories it does play their formula to a hilt, and it plays it well. But I can’t disagree with those who claim “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” would have been a better A-side.
The other single, by the way, was “Girlfriend In A Coma”. Again, it incarnates their classic sound. It doesn’t take the listener anywhere he hasn’t gone before, but it lets him enjoy the ride for sure. Continue reading →
If you have read the general introduction you already know I regard this album as The Smith’s crowning achievement. In a certain sense, it does what was done in the previous albums. But the difference is that what was previously done either good or very good now is done in an excellent fashion. With the sole exception of “Vicar In A Tutu” (a rockabilly number that is best left alone) and the acceptable “Never Had No One Ever”, all the songs hit hard. Generally speaking, they make a solid point out of solid disappointment: “I Know It’s Over” and “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” deal with the anxiety of a love that ends and takes life away with it, and a love that ends without ever having started respectively. For its part, the bouncy “Frankly, Mr. Shankly” takes the form of a resignation letter from a disgruntled employer to his boss, in which (as much as he tries to refrain from doings so) he must finally “speak frankly, Mr. Shankly” and call a spade a spade. Continue reading →
The second album recorded by the Mancunian ensemble, “Meat Is Murder” features better production, a tougher sound and a broader subject matter. Morrissey now tackles issues such as the British Educational system (“The Headmaster’s Ritual”, the opening number and one of the album’s highlights) as well as vegetarianism (the track that closes the record and which lends its title to the album), whereas some songs like “Nowhere Fast” make clear the political stance of the singer for the first time on record.