I’ve Been wanting to do something like this for a while, but with everything being so busy lately it has fallen to the wayside. However finally here’s the chance, I’m going to rank The Smiths albums from Best to Worst. To preface this, The Smiths are one of my favourite bands and I enjoy each of their albums, yet there are ones that stood out just that bit more and I’ve leaned on increasingly over the years.
This is only eligible to studio albums, because not only would choosing compilations be cheating, but it also would’ve made the list very VERY long.
4 – Strangeways Here We Come – 1987 – Rough Trade
It pains me to put this last, but it has to be. The album has so many great songs like ‘A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours’ along with the transcendent ‘Stop Me if You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before’ (Which is the one and only version that matters). I’m also very fond of ‘The Death of a Disco Dancer’ where Mozza shows a slower side to himself, and the ending is grand. Also I enjoy the storytelling in ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’ however melodically there’s better Smiths songs. The second half of the album lets this record down, with ‘Unhappy Birthday’ being the main culprit here, it just didn’t sit well. However ‘I Won’t Share You’ claws the second half back somewhat.
3 – Meat Is Murder – 1985 – Rough Trade
The message that this record gave was huge, as it’s turned many people vegetarian and I’d hazard a guess that this is still the case today. The picture Morrissey paints in the title track is ominous, and I can still hear him sing over the carving of an animal, a very powerful message indeed. On influence and message alone this album achieved such a lot, yet there were also so many other highlights your ears can get into. From the delightful ‘I Want the One I Can’t Have’ to the cruel beauty of ‘That Joke isn’t Funny Anymore’ the album pushes you and pulls you to every corner of your emotions. It’s unfortunate that this can’t be placed higher, simply but the other two hold a closer place in my heart.
2 – The Smiths – 1984 – Rough Trade
The Smiths debut is considered to be the worst of all their albums by some people, as their sound was truly discovered yet. However it’s that rough edge which makes this album so moreish. The fact that they were still finding themselves and producing such quality has to be appreciated. ‘Hand in Glove’ and the amazing ‘What Difference Does it Make?’ are the most recognized songs on this album, and rightly so due to ear bending guitar riffs that Marr was pulling off. The record also has these hidden gems that can only be appreciated by true Smiths fans, songs like ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’ and ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ from a lyrical standpoint are impeccable. What makes this album so great is that I still feel after all this time listening to it, that I haven’t got everything from it yet, there’s still juice in orange, there’s still water in the sponger, there’s still wilderness to wonder into, and for that reason it gets the number 2 spot.
1 – The Queen Is Dead – 1986 – Rough Trade
I’m sure it was obvious when the list started, but The Queen is Dead quite frankly Mr.Shankly the best piece of work The Smiths ever did. The record has everything from the serious and morbid side with ‘I Know it’s Over’ to the quirky and silly side of ‘Vicar in a Tutu’, the band made it work so well, and it blends without you batting an eye. The start of the album is one of the best openings to an album ever, the dear old blighty snippet then leading into the gut punching drums, to finally hear Morrissey wail and burst into song – untouchable. ‘The Boy with a Thorn in His Side’ also features, and is one the best Smiths songs ever written. You also have ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ which has become a phenomenon on its own, to the point where you forget that it features on this album. Songs like those are often stand alone singles. The album is packed with such quality, each song can easily stand on its own but the fact they’re all on this album make it very special. It’s been voted on several polls as one the most influential indie album, and it’s hard to disagree, without The Smiths and most importantly this album a lot of bands wouldn’t be around.
Overall The Smiths are one of the most important bands to come out of the UK, and this list can argue that point because every album could’ve taken the top spot. This list was very difficult to make, and I hope you all enjoy the read. Would love to know your thoughts on the list and what you would’ve done differently.
Words by Alex Wise @AJWise