Today in our ‘Blast From The Past’ series we’re looking at one of the most influential British bands of all time – The Smiths. From the jangly kitchen sink drama of ‘Hand In Glove’ to the anthemic ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’, The Smiths are responsible for some of the most beautifully written songs in the history of indie rock.
Here is the RMW Top 5 The Smiths Tracks:
Released in 1986, ‘Ask’ is one of the many non-album singles that proved to be a huge hit for the band. The song features some of the funniest, most light-hearted lyrics that singer Morrissey has ever penned. It is also one of a handful of Smiths songs to feature a guest musician – with Irish singer Kirsty MacColl providing backing vocals for the track. ‘Ask’ peaked at number fourteen on the UK singles chart, making it one of the band’s most commercially successful songs ever.
4. Bigmouth Strikes Again
Taken from the band’s iconic 1986 album ‘The Queen is Dead’, ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ remains a firm fan favourite to this day. Following the band’s demise in 1987, both frontman Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr have performed solo renditions of the track (one of the few Smiths songs to be covered by both of the former writing partners). The pitch shifted vocals at towards the end of the song (performed by Morrissey) are credited to ‘Ann Coates’ – a play on the Manchester district of ‘Ancoats’.
3. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Perhaps the most touching song that Morrissey has ever written, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ has received considerable critical acclaim since its initial release in 1986. The song strikes a perfect balance between guitarist Johnny Marr’s unique musicianship and Morrissey’s poignant lyricism, and is viewed by fans as not only one of the band’s best songs, but one of the greatest songs of all time. Contrary to popular belief, ‘There Is A Light’ was not officially released as a single until 1992 (5 years after the band had split), when it was featured on the band’s second ‘Best Of’ album.
2. How Soon Is Now
Known for its oscillating, atmospheric guitar riffs, ‘How Soon Is Now’ was once described as the “Stairway to Heaven of the eighties”. The song was initially released in 1985, and placed at number 24 in the UK singles chart. Upon its release, the song became a huge club hit, but did not chart as well as expected due to its considerable running time (nearly seven minutes). It was later cut down to 3:41, and released as a 7” single. ‘How Soon Is Now’ experienced a resurge in popularity in the late 1990s, when it was used as the theme song for the popular supernatural drama ‘Charmed’.
1. This Charming Man
The second ever single released by The Smiths, 1983’s ‘This Charming Man’ captured the public imagination, and transformed The Smiths from sulky indie outsiders to one of the UK’s biggest acts. The song’s eloquent lyrics contrasted the stark imagery of the north of England in the 1980s, and provided a new voice for young men at the time – particularly in the gay community. Morrissey once said of the song: “I really like the idea of the male voice being quite vulnerable, of it being taken and slightly manipulated, rather than there being always this heavy machismo thing that just bores everybody.” ‘This Charming Man’ also gave the world its first true taste of Johnny Marr’s signature jaunty guitar style, inspiring a entire generation of future guitar heroes.
Are there any other Smiths songs that should feature on this list? Leave us a comment with your suggestions.