Contrived by Johnny Marr, The Smiths evolved when Marr unearthed Morrissey and insisted upon a collaboration. The idea was to produce songs which were always instantaneous and listenable whilst also provoking deep thought; emeshing Morrissey's words with Marr's music in a sound which, above all, would stand apart without being inaccessible or esoteric. The guitar-based songs would blend melody without havoc, as the words - born out of absolute physical necessity - would tug at the straps of cultural straightjackets.
Christened as an antidote to a prevalent idea that modern groups would near a far-reaching, multi-syllabic name to authorise their artistry, The Smiths were completed with Andy Rourke (the bass guitar) and Mike Joyce (the drums). Joyce had served time with a clump of healthily depraved groups, whilst the other three members were without any serious musical involvement. The Smiths first surfaced in September '82, and the group determined that all their moves be surefooted and worthwhile. As a live group, The Smiths believed that it was possible to replenish appetites of both the soul and the pelvis simultaneously. They were urban, but never bleak; there was a humour in tragedy, solace in unity. The voice was the collective rage of all suppressed hysterics: Morrissey popularised the creased brow.
Always Manchester-based, The Smiths contended that "one has to live somewhere..." and soon rewrote the history of their city. Following misdirected collisions with major record companies, the group were adopted by Rough Trade, and the first result was the single "Hand in Glove / Handsome Devil." The sound attacked the depersonalised sterility of their contemporaries whose clinical synthesized rhythms, The Smiths believed, left audiences feeling non-human and petrified of emotion. Lyrically, the fundamental idea was to use phraseology which had simply never been used before.
The Smiths took firm control of any promotional images which bore their name, and naturally their artwork would always counteract accepted ingredients of popular music, without being hostile. The Smiths maintained the integrity and ethos of their manifesto across four studio albums and a live album that was issued after their split. Their legacy matches their original ambition - to produce songs which were always instantaneous and listenable whilst also provoking deep thought. And there you are.
01. Is it Really So Strange? (John Peel session, 12/2/86)
02. Sheila Take a Bow (2011 Remaster)
03. Shoplifters of the World Unite (2011 Remaster)
04. Sweet And Tender Hooligan (John Peel session, 12/2/86)
05. Half a Person (2011 Remaster)
06. London (2011 Remaster)
07. Panic (2011 Remaster)
08. Girl Afraid (2011 Remaster)
09. Shakespeare's Sister (2011 Remaster)
10. William, It Was Really Nothing (2011 Remaster)
11. You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby (US Mix)
12. Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now (2011 Remaster)
13. Ask (2011 Remaster)
14. Golden Lights (2011 Remaster)
15. Oscillate Wildly (2011 Remaster)
16. These Things Take Time (2011 Remaster)
17. Rubber Ring (2011 Remaster)
18. Back to the Old House (2011 Remaster)
19. Hand in Glove (2011 Remaster)
20. Stretch Out and Wait
21. Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (2011 Remaster)
22. This Night Has Opened My Eyes (2011 Remastered Version)
23. Unloveable (2011 Remaster)
24. Asleep (2011 Remaster)