Pretty Green

The Smiths Singles Retrospective

There have been reissues. There have been repackages. And now it’s time to reevaluate the songs. So, put on your tacky badge, and let’s take a look at the seventeen Smiths singles that were released from 1983 to 1987. In just four short years, the Manchester-based band broke on to the scene — confusing, titillating, and/or enraging everyone in their path — and, just as quickly they were gone.  The short length of their dynasty has not had a deleterious impact on their legacy, however. Never before had there been a band that went so far beyond trite pop cliches, willing to touch upon real-life mass murders, loneliness, sexuality — and, not merely that heterosexual sort we were all more comfortable with. This was a band that was literate, cultured, and timely. It’s hard to believe that, in a post-Beatles world, one band could achieve so much in so few years. The influence of the band cannot be overstated. Morrissey and Marr will go down in history as one of the most significant partnerships in modern music history.

This Chaming Man b/w Jeane (November 1983)

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Paul Morley famously described 'This Charming Man' as 'accessible bliss', and there just isn't a way to better that description. With its pulse-quickening intro, it jangles into full bloom and crashes about in a majestic fit. Morrissey's choirboy voice soars throughout, blasé and heartbreaking at the same time. This was another speedy composition for Johnny Marr (allegedly, the basics were there in twenty minutes). The music was written especially for the Smiths' second Peel session in 1983. Based on that performance, this song was fast-tracked as the next single, far less controversial than 'Reel Around The Fountain,' which was poised to follow up 'Hand In Glove.' 'This Charming Man' is the most downloaded Smiths track. To date, it's sold 139,000 downloads. It peaked at number 25 in the singles charts upon its original release, but, ultimately, performed much better (#8) when the single was reissued nine years later.

Britpopping since I first heard 'Animal Nitrate' in 1993

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