Quick Review (LP): Strangeways, Here We Come by The Smiths

The Smiths
Strangeways, Here We Come
Rough Trade; 1987

My Rating: B

Best Tracks: “A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours”, “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish”, “Girlfriend in a Coma”, “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”, “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”

Truth is, The Smiths were quite adept at producing strong album sides. Unfortunately, they could never put two solid ones together in the same album, and that holds true here, where side A is one of the best they’ve done and side B stinks like the second half of Meat Is Murder. It’s all downhill from “Last Night…”, but the first six tracks do leave you wondering what might have been a little further down the road. The production sounds the best it has, and creatively, they do seem to be branching out, although the decision to de-emphasize Marr’s guitar work is questionable. Speaking of Marr, his work is fabulous on “Girlfriend in a Coma”, and “Last Night…” is the second best epic ode to self-pity they recorded, right next to “How Soon Is Now?” All in all, they sound fresh out of great ideas, so it was probably the right move to call it quits here. That being said, this is a decent record.

Wikipedia article
AMG review
mbbarton blog review

Quick Review (LP): Meat Is Murder by The Smiths

The Smiths
Meat Is Murder
Rough Trade; 1985

My Rating: B

Best Tracks: “The Headmaster Ritual”, “I Want the One I Can’t Have”, “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”

First things first: the title tracks SUCKS. Second, adding “How Soon Is Now?” to later copies of this record is like adding Han Solo to The Wrath of Khan. Just think about it. Otherwise, the band sounds musically strong here, if not quite brilliant. These aren’t the strongest melody/riff combinations they produced, but they are enough to keep me coming back for more. I think this record deserves a little more credit than most critics give it, but at the same time, the band hasn’t quite shaken its tendancy to drag things out too long. Case in point: “Barbarism Begins At Home.” The most important things is that Marr’s genius riffs are abundant. Delicious.

AMG review
BBC review
Wikipedia article
Thorn Brain Music review