Released: May 23, 1995
Styles: Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, College Rock
Number Of Tracks: 18
Singles simply collects all of the singles from one of the greatest singles bands since the Beatles.
broken_bottles, on july 27, 2004 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Smiths' sound was always quite unique; and different, as most bands had gone elctronic. The Smiths sound was largely due to guitarist Johnny Marr, who wrote all the music. His signature guitar sound is quite bright, clean and jangly (most notably on earlier tracks like This Charming Man and Hand In Glove). Other guitar sounds include his sometimes fast and detailed acoustic playing (William, It Was Really Nothing, Bigmouth Strikes Again) and his more rock-like distortion (Panic, I Started Something I couldn't finish). Marr's songwriting makes the tunes catchy, but unexpectedly so. The hooks themselves are quite unique, Marr uses strange chord sequences sometimes but manages to make them work.
The Smiths wasn't all Johnny Marr, however. Andy Roukes detailed and flowing bassline is exceptional, because it's so clever and because it never gets in the way of the song. Morrissey's singing is great throughout, the lyrics come across with so much genuine emotion because of it. He goes out of tune on occasion but it doesn't really matter that much: it's quite a rare occurence. I don't know much about drumming, and can't remember the drummer's name but he's pretty good as well. So the sound is pretty great really, all of the members are exceptional at what they do, and it forms a satisfyingly cohesive whole. Excellent really, you have to listen a few times to even begin to appreciate it. // 10
Lyrics: Anyone who knows anything about the Smiths will know about Morrissey, and well now I suppose anyone who's looked at the British Chart will know Morrissey. He is an amazing lyricist, you really cannot fault him. By turns passionate, aroused, manical, depressive, angry, funny, satirical, witty, in love, unloved, political, he captures his feelings perfectly. Girlfriend In A Coma is a particularly good example: it is a short song, and pretty simple. Morrissey simply sings "Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know it's serious". In this line he manages to show so much emotion, without even making much effort. He sings "There were times when I could have murdered her, but you know I would hate anything to happen to her". It is just so touching, the chorus is simply "Do you really think she'll pull through?" This bittersweet emotional juxtaposition is especially evident on the last track: "There is a light that never goes out". Morrissey sings what I think are some of the best lyrics ever:
"And if a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die, and if a ten-ton truck kills the both of us, to die by your side well the pleasure and privledge is mine". Morrissey is an excellent singer, with a tenor that is not often heard in popular music, but it fits the music like a hand in glove.
I really can't emphasise Morrissey's lyrical genius enough so I'll just end with some examples: "Hang the blessed DJ, because the music that they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life" - Panic. "And now I know how Joan of Arc felt, as the flames rose to her Roman nose and her Walkman started to melt"-Bigmouth Strikes Again. "So I broke into the palace, with a sponge and rusty spanner, she said "eh, I know you, you cannot sing, I said "thats nothing, you should hear me play piano".- The Queen Is Dead. "Hand in glove, the sun shines out of our behinds"-Hand in glove. "A jumped up pantry boy who never knew his place"-This charming man. // 10
Overall Impression: The Smiths are difficult to compare to other acts really. I suppose one way is to think of Britpop, think of REM and then think again. There isn't a duff song on the CD, as it is a singles collection, but highlights include: This Charming Man, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now, Girlfriend In A Coma, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Panic. All the others are great too. Oh yeah, if this CD went missing I'd definetly replace it. If anyone is interested in the Smiths this is the best way to get into them. In case anyone was wondering why I'm reviewing this now, it's because Morrissey is enjoying a comeback so I thought it would be nice for all those who are just getting into Morrissey to hear the Smiths. I personally want a Smiths reunion.That'd be nice. Anyway, buy this and buy Morrissey's You Are The Quarry. You won't regret it well unless you don't like that sorta stuff. // 10
Anachronism, on september 28, 2004 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Smiths are one of the better known bands of the 80's/early 90's, and are probably one of the last great 'singles' bands. Bridging the gap between pop and rock, the infectious guitar of Marr, with the doleful crooning of Morrissey across the top make for a unique experience into the dark psyche of the Mozfather. This album is a collection of their singles, which at over 20 tracks is no mean feat, and is perfect for listeners wanting to get into the Smiths.
Showing off the prodigious genre-stretching songwriting talents of the Morrissey/Marr duo, it ranges from sincere acoustic ballads ('I Know It's Over', 'Please, Please, Please...'), to perfect jangle-pop ('This Charming Man'), to their darker, mournful side ('Last Night I Dreamt...', 'Heaven Knows...'), which to me is their best aspect. The Smiths are the only band I know which bridge all times and emotions, from breakup songs to just-got-laid-and-in-a-good-mood songs. The production also adds heavily to the album, with all instruments shining through the mix clearly, thanks to the then-highly unusual and unique style of production (trebly guitar, bassy bass and midrange vocals). // 8
Lyrics: Ok, so I have to admit I'm a big fan of Morrissey's lyrics. Even if the music were not as stunning as it is, I have no doubt the lyrics would keep the main strength of the songs together. At times both sarcastic and witty, baleful and vindictive, yet still unhappy and joyful, there can be no doubt why Mozza has become the figurehead of a movement of dis-affected teens. I'm not usually one to pretend I can relate to the lyrics of bands, but the genuine emotion in some of his songs is incredible (when I went to see him at Leedsfest 2004 he was frankly and openly emotional in all of his songs, at times having to turn away from the audience in an effort to hide the tears welling up in his eyes.
A grown man crying in front of 100,000 people? Frank and open doesn't even cover it.). The other review has already gone over some of his better lyrics, but I would like to add some of my personal favourites to the list: "No, it's not like any other love. This one's different, because it's us"- Hand In Glove. "If you're so very good-looking, why do you sleep alone tonight? "- I Know It's Over. // 10
Overall Impression: Right, I'm kinda' mixed about this album overall. It is a brilliant album, from one of my favourite bands, and I would like to say every song is brilliant. However, it's basically a greatest hits album, so it'd be hard to expect anything less. In my opinion, it's a great album for getting into the Smiths, nearly all their best songs on one CD, but there are a few I feel the album didn't need, for example: the unusually simple, quite shallow (and frankly boring to me) 'Panic', which continues to annoy me by seeming to appear on every album I have by the Smiths, and these prevent me from giving it an all over 5.
However, I know other people feel differently, and having been privileged to have seen Morrissey live, playing Smiths songs, I feel I don't have grounds to complain (for the record, he's much less miserable in person). A Smiths reunion tour would be a dream ticket, and I know many other fans that feel the same way. Damn Morrissey/Marr and their stubborness! If it was lost, or stolen (an increasingly high risk due to the amount of people wanting to borrow it) I would more likely get some of their other albums instead, but this record has been on constant play in my stereo for the last few months. These are 'the songs that saved my life', and still as fresh as the day a young Stephen Morrissey donned his quiff and glasses and become the anti-anti-hero, the father of a generation of music, opening the door for such illuminaries as Oasis and their other brit-pop ilk. // 8