Day 324: The Smiths – The Smiths

18 Jan

This Charming Man

I’ve somehow managed to go 323 days into this project without listening to a single record by The Smiths.  I figured that I’d be assigned a record of theirs for Dad Rock Tuesday at some point, but with the number of DRTs beginning to dwindle, I better just knock out a record of theirs on my own terms. As I’m sure you know, Wikipedia is blacked out today as part of the anti-SOPA/PIPA protests, making my daily music research a little harder than usual.  I’m not complaining, I don’t need no online encyclopedia to know just how big The Smiths are (were).

There’s just something about that ’80s/’90s English rock sound that I love.  Well, most of the time anyway.  From The Beautiful South to Belle and Sebastian, there’s been something for me in the majority of the stuff that I have checked out from this genre and era, excluding Joy Division.

With a very heart-on-sleeve approach to lyrics, and an emotional, albeit a little whiney, delivery, I have plenty to love about The Smiths.  Now that I think about it, those are two characteristics that I look for in a lot of the new stuff that I listen to, even if they come about in fairly different ways.  For example, you could apply the first sentence of this paragraph to the music of a band like Titus Andronicus, even though they sound nothing like The Smiths. It’s cool how things like that end up working out.

I shouldn’t say that I hate new wave—I’m starting to learn that it’s not all garbage.

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8 Responses to “Day 324: The Smiths – The Smiths”

  1. B. Frank January 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    It ain’t whinin’ if your girlfriend’s in a coma…

  2. Dave Chops January 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Mr. Ear – I share your warm feelings for the Smiths, as does Alex. However, I would encourage you to take a look at the wikipedia article on New Wave Music (now that it is back up) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Wave_music. You have listened to a lot of albums by groups associated with New Wave in the article: Blondie, Talking Heads, Ramones, Cheap Trick, Graham Parker, The Police, The Cars, Elvis Costello, B-52s, Echo and The Bunnymen, Nick Lowe and the Specials. If you can distill the common link in those groups’ sounds, I congratulate you. Ian Dury is also mentioned and I recommend to you his “New Boots and Panties” album which I am pretty sure you will enjoy and will provide you with a laugh or two.

    Whatever New Wave is or was, it is not a term usually associated with The Smiths. They were more defined by Morrissey’s attitude and catterwauling and Johnny Marr’s ace guitar work than by any movement. A good deal of their best work came on singles (and is most easily found on singles compliations) which may challenge some of your stated preferences where albums are concerned.

    The Smiths are more contemporary to The Jazz Butcher and The Housemartins (predecessors to The Beautiful South) than to any of the groups mentioned above.

  3. Yuanny Dollar January 19, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    Senor Chops is right — and you should check out Ian Dury — except that Cheap Trick is the most straight-up rock band in the history of the world and they come from Rockford, Illinois — so they ain’t no new wave band.

    As for The Smiths, may I be the first to say. Yuck. Never liked them. Never will. Even if you’re girlfriend is really in a coma, it is whining. Sack up, play a Cheap Trick album and get on with your life.

    Good talk.

    • Dave Chops January 19, 2012 at 8:35 am #

      I agree that Cheap Trick invented nothing (and did not influence anyone really – who was there to influence?). I have a soft spot for the Rockford album and the Beatles knock-offs but overall I definitely would not trade their catalogue for The Smiths’. Yes, Morrissey is/was an ass. However, the man has a talent for lyrics and Mr. Marr is a guitar god. Listen to this again and give me your arguments for your “yuck”.

  4. Yuanny Dollar January 19, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Don’t get me wrong — I am a big CT fan. Surrender — right up there with the great rock songs — they did invent something with those lyrics, and they have a rock solid rhythm section, and a great/freak guitarist and a singer who in some ways is the platonic ideal of rock singers. As for the Smiths — I will grant you that it is a well-crafted pop song, although 45 seconds too long for such a dirge. Why Yuck for me? Because it reminds me of people I don’t like, smoking Gitanes and thinking they were very cool. As Earchik often reminds us, feelings about music are personal. I would rather listen to Surrender on repeat for an hour than a Smiths album.

    • Dave Chops January 19, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      No doubt musical appreciation is personal – and you defend your position, J$. Respect. I saw CT at the old Montreal Forum in probably 1980 and was bored. For me, after “Surrender” and “Dream Police” (which is basically the same song) the CT catalogue gets pretty thin. And I still can’t forgive them for “The Flame” – nor should you. My personal favorite CT member is Bun E. Carlos for his fashion sense and oversize drumsticks. I am not in agreement with your Rick Peterson assessment but we can fight that out another day.

      Mr. Ear, I believe you have your explanation as to why The Smiths were never a DRT selection. You might want to find out what other groups J$ associates with Gitane-smokers and possibly explore those on your own.

  5. Yuanny Dollar January 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    I saw them too. About a year ago. I wasn’t bored. My only comment was that they should just play I Want You to Want Me and Surrender over and over again. They were on a double-bill with Squeeze and Squeeze’s catalog was a lot deeper — many gems I had forgotten. As for The Smiths and DRT — not sure what that has to do with me. As I’ve mentioned, Earchik’s dad sounds like a fine human being, but I’ve never met the guy.

  6. Alex January 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Ok so geriatric ramblings aside this is a great album and I’m glad you like it. This Charming Man and Hand in Glove are my two favorite Smiths songs and they’re both on this album. I have to point out though that Belle & Sebastian are more of a 90s/2000s band and they aren’t English.

    Props though on getting into the Smiths. For a great live recording, check out “Same Day Again.”

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