- ORIGIN: Manchester, UK
- CORE MEMBERS: Steven Patrick Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce
- GENRES: Indie, rock, pop
- YEARS ACTIVE: 1982-1987; 1988-present (solo)
The Smiths were, simply, one of rock’s all-time great groups, led by a unique frontman (Morrissey) and guitarist (Johnny Marr) who were also a songwriting partnership of genius.
They, arguably, spoke to their audience like no band before or since, and from May ‘83’s debut 45 Hand In Glove, their output was dizzying. Singles — with treasures on the b-side and portal-like sleeves — flew out at four-monthly intervals; the LPs were also events of huge melodic invention and poetic force that are still capable of delivering massive thrills...(continues below)
TOP TEN ALBUMS
In summer 1987, on the verge of The Smiths moving from the Rough Trade label to EMI, guitarist Marr left, apparently because of the group’s lack of a manager and his being obliged to record Cilla Black tune Work Is A Four Letter Word. But within six months Morrissey would battle on with a solo career that continues to exhibit periods of vigorous health. For the most part he hasn’t departed much from his first band’s template, and has continued to provoke, haunt and amuse. After a successful 1996 court case brought by Smiths drummer Mike Joyce over performance royalties, his output has possibly harped too much on themes of revenge (see 25 per cent of 2004’s comeback You Are The Quarry), but he remains a diamond-standard, wholly self-contained pop star...(continues below).
“Morrissey remains a diamond-standard, wholly self-contained pop star”
A box set of Marr-remastered Smiths LPs emerged in 2011, typical of the guitarist’s sedulous work as curator of the Smiths brand, followed by an unexpectedly fiery Marr debut solo album (we’re ignoring the less-good records credited to “Johnny Marr + The Healers”) in early 2013. Morrissey’s recent Autobiography appears to have refocused the world’s attention and a tenth studio solo album was nearing release as these words were penned. As ever with anything Morrissey-related – it’s guaranteed to be a story.