It’s true what folks say: if you own The Queen Is Dead, Singles, and Louder Than Bombs, then you own most of “the best songs” by The Smiths (the greatest band of all time). But there are still reasons to hunt down copies of their other records—the studio albums The Smiths, Meat Is Murder, and Strangeways Here We Come, as well as the compilation disc Hatful of Hollow. Over the next few days, I’ll try to convince you why.
Let’s begin at the beginning!
THE SMITHS (1984)
And right off the bat, you get a topless photo of Joe Dallesandro! Which is, of course, a pun: the (cropped) still is taken from Andy Warhol’s film Flesh (1968)…which was directed by Paul Morrissey.
You also get one of my all-time favorite Smiths songs:
Track 1. “Reel Around the Fountain”
It’s not their most upbeat number, true—and it’s an odd choice to open an album—but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and it does include some of Morrissey’s best lyrics:
Fifteen minutes with you
Oh, well, I wouldn’t say no
Oh, people said that you were easily led
And they were half-right
I dreamt about you last night
And I fell out of bed twice
You can pin and mount me like a butterfly
But “take me to the haven of your bed”
Was something that you never said
Two lumps, please
You’re the bee’s knees
But so am I…
Track 3. “Miserable Lie”
Maybe this one never went anywhere because it’s just two tracks away from “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle”? Which is pretty perverse, since the two sound—initially at least—virtually identical…but only for the first 50 seconds or so:
There’s also a Peel Sessions version that wasn’t included on Hatful of Hollow, and so I will include it here—it’s rather different:
Track 4. “Pretty Girls Make Graves”
Track 5. “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle”
AKA “The song that should have been played over the closing credits of some ’80s film”:
Track 6. “Still Ill”
How was this song not a single?
Track 9. “I Don’t Owe You Anything”
A real sleeper, with superb lyrics:
Track 10. “Suffer Little Children”
This is my favorite Smiths song to listen to while on airplanes, smiling at toddlers:
So that’s seven tracks I wouldn’t want to be without.
Next up: Meat Is Murder!