Sound — 10
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.
Lyrics — 10
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.
Overall Impression — 10
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.