10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated album is one of their best.
Whilst seen as a major disappointment by some music critics, who slammed it's production as "leaden and uninspired", the album has an exciting, raw feel to it which the polished later albums lack. Certainly there are lesser songs present here, but the classics outweigh the fillers. The standouts? 'You've Got Everything Now' is an absolutely marvellous track and...
Published on 25 Jan 2002 by R. Burin
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed?
The Smiths were robbed of the debut they deserved by John Porter's incredibly lacklustre production. The production is very flat, and lacks any real conviction. That aside, the album benefits from the strength of the songs, "Hand in glove", "Reel around the fountain" and "I don't owe you anything" the stand-out tracks. If you really want to hear The Smiths' early...
Published on 14 Jun 2004 by unclemogs
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated album is one of their best.,
Whilst seen as a major disappointment by some music critics, who slammed it's production as "leaden and uninspired", the album has an exciting, raw feel to it which the polished later albums lack. Certainly there are lesser songs present here, but the classics outweigh the fillers. The standouts? 'You've Got Everything Now' is an absolutely marvellous track and 'Reel Around The Fountain' justly classic, whilst 'Still Ill' is an absolute joy to behold- superb lyrics and an excellent vocal by Morrissey. So, ignore those blasted ignorant critics and purchase this record. You really won't regret it- and will be writing a similarly gushing review within days- guaranteed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy Masterpiece,
By A Customer
As far as debuts go, this could not be labelled as explosive, but maybe this is because morrissey and marr dare to explore more mature topics than other bands of the time. From the first track (Reel Around The Fountain) the listener can tell how important this album would have been at the time, but also now. The relevance of 'Suffer Little Children' and 'The Hand That Rocks The Cradle' will never diminish and by listeneing to the lyrics, the listener will appreciate this fact. Morrissey explores a number of topics including dis-satisfaction in relationships (Pretty Girls Make Graves) jealousy (You've Got Everything Now) and sexuality (This Charming Man) With such a wealth of important topics, this album easily makes my top 10.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music for the lost generation,
None of The Smiths had great experience before joining together in this particular little enterprise, Morrissey had briefly been a member of a couple of bands, although not always as the singer. Still, upon hitching up with Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke he suddenly found himself with an outlet for his writing and dreams.
But here we find a classic situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts
Nobody had ever quite matched lyrics like his before to what were essentially Rock a Billy songs, although quite out of step with other music of the era, especially commercial chart music. Understanding or deciphering Morrissey's lyrics is hard full of contradictory statements and unless told the homoerotic metaphors are not immediately obvious
The music and arrangements of Johnny Marr and the sticking lyrics of Morrissey complement each other perfectly. The lyrics are jam-packed full of tongue in cheek humour and Marrs infectious hooks are simply wonderful.
There is a common misconception surrounding Morrissey lyrics, dour and miserable they are not. Not really, not exactly, and some of the lyrical imagery and scene setting is pretty much unsurpassed if you happen to be a lost romantic type.
The Smiths signed to leading independent label Rough Trade, there was already a buzz surrounding the group, but the debut single and 'Hand In Glove' failed to chart.
The second single was 'This Charming Man', is very distinctive, immediately reminds one of Sixties groups it's 'jingle jangle' nature and sound. Coupled with a strange appearance on National TV surrounded by Gladioli, Marr with a Brian Jones Haircut Morrissey sporting a granny blouse, hearing aid, quiff and national health glasses awoke sleeping teenage angst
Strangely people could associate with these lyrics, associate with the image and allure of The Smiths as a group, and especially associate with Morrissey himself.
Albeit the outsiders - The kids that were alone and bullied, who spent their time playing Dungeons and Dragons.
A genuine and often beautiful album.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Smiths at their most raw.,
Upon first listen I dismissed The Smiths as a distinctly average album by their standards and in comparison to the heights of The Queen is Dead. However, this album above all others has been the biggest grower on me over the course of say a year, and songs that once seemed a little tuneless and overly meandering (Still Ill, Reel Around the Fountain) and hardly up to the pop catchiness of later albums are somehow now more powerful and beautiful than those songs I'd be singing along to as soon as I stuck The Queen is Dead on, or Strangeways Here We Come.
The Smiths is an album that takes a touch of perseverence - perhaps due in part to the legendary under-production, done on only £20,000 after a less than satisfactory effort by Troy Tate. As much as the production is murky and often leaden, it has a charm which lends itself to the sheer darkness and gravity of many of the songs' subjects and lyrics - Morrissey here is exploring child abuse (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle), serial child murder (Suffer Little Children), homosexuality (Hand in Glove) and raw sexuality in general (Reel Around the Fountain). And he handles them with the subtelty only a master poet, backed up by Marr's mesmerising guitarwork, could.
Highlights of the album include "Still Ill", a nostalgic look back at Morrissey's experiences growing up in Manchester, filled with disolution and that wonderful despairing lyric "Am I Still Ill" with the grave feeling of prelongued sickness a terrifying thought when used as an analogy of life. "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" is a mesmeric lullaby with a hideous implication of child abuse mixed with terrifying images of shadows looming eerily over a child's bed - the feeling amplified no end by Johnny Marr's subtle and hypnotic guitar hooks.
"This Charming Man" was not included on the original release of the album, and doesn't really fit in with the album as a whole especially in its placing and somewhat more sheeny production. It is, however, a fantastic song and represents a lovely copmbination of catchy guitar and simple yet effective Morrissey lyrics. Indeed, along with "Hand in Glove" (a better version appears on Hatful of Hollow but there isn't too big a difference) these two are really the only true "pop" songs on what is a very indie album.
Ultimately The Smiths represents a darker and rawer side of The Smiths that they never really returned to. Marr's guitarwork is murkier and subtler than on later albums and Morrissey never revisits lyrics as risky and grave as those on "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" or "Suffer Little Children" (a song about the Moors Murders which just about manages to pull off such a serious subject with enough subtelty and grace). It took a long time for the album to grow on me but I now rank it a very close second to The Queen is Dead among The Smith's albums.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most underrated Smiths album,
It might lack the impact of later albums, but I would agree with several other reviewers that "The Smiths" is the second-best Smiths album, after "The Queen is Dead". Perhaps its lack of recognition in regard to later albums is partly due to the slightly leaden production, partly the "atypical" nature of some of the songs, but for me "The Smiths" contains some of the band's most beautiful, haunting and memorable work.
The obvious early Smiths classics are all there. "This Charming Man" remains as catchy and whimsical as ever, and is perhaps the greatest early example of a perfect combination between Marr's composition and Morrissey's lyrics. "Hand in Glove", the group's first single, is still one of the most romantic songs ever written - Morrissey's observations on the experience of being in love are remarkably astute. "Still Ill" is a stunning nostalgic tale, and "What Difference Does It Make?", while not quite achieving the impact of the three tracks already mentioned, sits comfortably among the group's best work.
Despite these songs, some of the most beautiful work on the album is found on the slower ballads. The opening track "Reel Around the Fountain" is a wistful yet strangely relaxing tune of contradictions - though at first it sounds like a beautiful love song, closer attention to the lyrics reveals that it is about nothing more than sexual desire. "Pretty Girls Make Graves" is a clever and memorable song about confused sexuality, and "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" is surely one of the group's most underrated songs. Full of haunting imagery and with a subtly unsettling edge, it deserves recognition as one of The Smiths' greatest ever songs, and features one of Morrissey's best lyrics. "Suffer Little Children" also deserves special mention - there has never been a song about a real event which packs so much punch as Morrissey's incredibly moving song about the Moors Murders.
As for the other songs, "You've Got Everything Now" is an amusing and catchy rant at jealous school-friends, and "I Don't Owe You Anything" is yet another lovely song which deserves more recognition than it gets. The only duffer on the album, for me, is "Miserable Lie" - an interesting experiment, and perhaps it works better played live, but as a studio recording it simply doesn't hold up, and it sticks out like a sore thumb on an album full of so much quality.
Overall, the quality of this album really shines through. Not as punchy as "The Queen is Dead", but just as beautiful, and well worth the purchase.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original recording,
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This review is from: The Smiths [12" Vinyl] (Vinyl)
Just a warning this is a remastering of the original version , which did not include' This Charming Man'. It was a single and added to later versions of the album. Still a great album without it .
4.0 out of 5 stars Not their best but still worth obtaining,
Coming out of nowhere with the classic singles This Charming Man and What Difference Does It Make in the winter of 1983, The Smiths were the most critically acclaimed, adored and hated band of a decade with whose ethos they were totally out of step. Soon after the release of WDDIM, the quartet's self-titled debut album also appeared. How does it hold up then all of these years later?
Pretty well in fact, though The Smiths is let down slightly by a flat, unexciting production and a couple of rather dirge like melodies. Highlights for me include some of the less heralded songs such as the moving I Don't Owe You Anything and Pretty Girls Make Graves as well as the more regularly honoured aforementioned singles and Hand In Glove. The biting You've Got Everything Now is also excellent and, like IDOUA, augmented by Paul Carrack's organ playing which provides a welcome contrast to the rather monotonous instrumentation elsewhere.
Carrack also plays organ and piano on Reel Around The Fountain which bookends the album with another song about terrible abuses. Suffer Little Children is a moving tribute to the victims of the appalling moors murders, a series of events which I imagine haunted the young Steven Patrick Morrissey and many other Manchester children of his generation.
A fitting end to what is an excellent album despite my criticisms above. The Smiths amply showcases the singular talents of Morrissey as well as the distinctive, defining guitar work of Johnny Marr. It is not their best album though this is as much due to the production as the songs yet is still very much worth purchasing.
5.0 out of 5 stars A very VERY good album!,
Okay... Miserable Lie is bad and Hand is Glove is only acceptable. Apart from these two songs the album is great. Actually it's better than great, its one of the best albums post 1970 that I've heard... Actually its one of the best albums ever... Full stop. But if id wrote this review after my first listen id have given it 3 stars... Maybe even 2 because Somehow I failed to realise just how amazing songs like 'The Hand That Rocks The Cradle' and 'Pretty Girls Make Graves' actually are. I thought it was an acceptable album due to 'Reel Around The Fountain' and 'This Charming Man' but with the second and third listen it became obvious that ALMOST all the songs are brilliant. Sure it doesn't quite reach musical perfection like The Queen is Dead but it is an album that everyone must hear. It MAY change your life... It WILL blow you away... even if it does take a few listens.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's Time the Tale Were Told.",
Back in 1984, when Culture Club, Wham!, and Duran Duran dominated the charts and airwaves, a group of four young Englishmen called the Smiths released their debut on the indie label Rough Trade. Although they recorded only four non-compilation studio albums, this Manchester-based quartet would be remembered as one of the most influential pop bands of all time. "The Smiths" is a smashing debut of a classic that was so unique in its flavor and form, that it really couldn't be compared to anything else. The recipe for the group's success was--in addition to John Porter's raw production--its clever and original songwriting. Singer Morrissey's sensitive and thoughtful lyrics and guitarist Johnny Marr's intricate melodies highlighted key tracks such as the opener "Reel Around the Fountain," the catchy "This Charming Man," and the ever-haunting "Hand in Glove." What's more, Morrissey's lyrics tackled some unconventional topics few pop stars in 1984 would bother to broach, from child abuse to homosexuality. "The Smiths" debuted at Number Two on the UK charts upon release, and while it never duplicated the same success stateside, it has quickly gained popularity as an underground classic. Two years later, the band would outdo themselves on their 1986 masterpiece "The Queen Is Dead" before disbanding the following year. Both that album, as well as this stunner of a debut, come highly recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars Still far better than the music of the time,
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Was in the sixth form at school at the time of release-the girls were into Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones etc (yawn).
Yes it is over-produced (too shiny) but get by that and the quality of the songs shine through.Apart from the "barnstormers" there are some real gems-"The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" and especially the poignantly beautiful "Suffer Little Children" which,I remember,was panned by the press because they did not know that Mozza had the support of the parents involved in the tragedy.
A good starting point but The Smiths future releases were catchier and more mature-it was a travesty that they only had 4 years between first and last albums.
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