Classic Record Review | The Smiths – ‘Strangeways Here We Come’

The Smiths Final Work, Was it their Finest?

Reissue repackage.

By the time The Smiths fourth studio album had been released in late 1987 Johnny Marr had already left the band. On top of everything he felt the band were ready for a new musical phase. Look forward not back was Johnnys mentality.

Their final piece of work ‘Strangeways Here We Come‘ was released in September 1987 and for me it’s their most rich and vibrant record with so many different pieces of musical direction. It almost seems tragically that Morrissey and Marr are pulling in different directions but the results are undeniably brilliant.

It kicks off with the haunting yet always melodic ‘A Rush And A Push and the land is ours’ Morrissey at his insulting best, with lyrics such as
people who are uglier than you and I/they take what they need, and just leave”. All glossed over as usual with a beautiful Marr jangly melody. 

To me this has always defined The Smiths. Morrisseys melancholic lyrics about being an outsider and wanting to die or murder someone with a lovely cheery tune built around it. ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ one of their most famous singles proves this with the beautiful lyric “there are times when I could have murdered her but you know I would hate anything to happen to her“. Love and hate in the same sentence. 

‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ is a song of loneliness. “No Hope No Harm Just Another False Alarm”. To me it’s the ‘I Know it’s Over’ of this album.

The pulsating ‘Paint A Vulgar Picture’ which basically “paints a vulgar picture” of the record industry and the endless reissues of albums “extra track and a tacky badge“. Ironically The Smiths themselves have suffered this over the years. 

My favourite song on the album is the last track ‘I Won’t Share You‘ it’s almost as if Morrissey is singing and saying goodbye to Marr by saying I’ll see you around sometime. 

Many fans cite ‘The Queen Is Dead’ as the bands greatest piece of work. That album does appear to be a band at the peak of their powers. 

However for me this understated yet brilliant album is their summit. Production first class and the use of more instruments than another release of theirs to produce such a beautiful sound. 

Who knows what might have happened had Johnny not left The Smiths.  Maybe it’s better we don’t know as the legacy they have left will stand the test of time. 

They can never taint you in my eye.

Words by Lee Bellfield

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