The Miracle of the Smiths

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This is not a thread in which I (or you) say 'Hey, the Smiths were grate'. Yes, I think they were, but the value judgements were handled over on the CoD thread. What I want to reflect on is the *strangeness* of the band - the thing I have never quite got my head around about them.

When I think about Originality (cf. ILE), I often think about things that combine existing cultural features in ways that no-one had thought of - and succeed in pulling off some kind of unlikely synthesis. The Smiths seem to me a major case of this:

a) folk-pop jangly guitar tradition

+

b) Northern English camp tradition

= major incident in pop history.

The thing that is hard to understand is why or how those two things (Roger McGuinn and Alan Bennett, so to speak) came together. Just by sheer chance and contingency? What strange alchemy was going on? How much of the improbable synthesis was carefully planned? etc.

the pinefox, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

This really is a great question -- and it is, oddly, something I was thinking about last night. I've just recently procured a car with only a tape deck, and therefore went rummaging through all of my old tapes for something decent; given that most of my tape-buying comes from the high-school period, I found myself pretty well stocked on the Smiths' back catalog. Thus it was that I was driving around last night listening to The Queen is Dead and thinking about how, despite their presence and influence and normalization over the years, the Smiths really are a very weird band, even by today's standards.

The duality you point out is an apt one, but I'd even add a few things to that. First is the fact that while Marr is overshadowed by Moz as the source of oddity, it's worth noting that Marr was pretty interesting as well. He tends to get defined as some sort of godfather of indie jangle, but listening back through those records, you realize how all-over-the-place he tended to be, from those funky little instrumentals he'd play live (funky in the sense that, say, "Rubber Ring" is funky) to the occasional rockabilly turn ("Vicar in a Tutu") -- leave alone the wide swath of pop/rock he cut through.

And then you pair that with Morrissey, whose inclinations were even more unusual and in a completely different fashion. This is what fascinates me about Morrissey -- the fact that he seems to be essentially a social deviant, the sort of person who would be sitting creepily in a flophouse or hanging around libraries scaring people had he not been given a near-magical opportunity to be odd for a living. The fact that his pre-Smiths life was allegedly so creepily sheltered explains quite a bit -- the camp mentioned above seems a direct result of the only two musical influences he claims from his youth, those being (a) sixties British pop of the Lulu / Twinkle / Sandy Shaw variety, and (b) glam, e.g. his New York Dolls obsession. (That background also explains his least appealing traits: (a) his gynophobia, common to pretty much all sheltered, awkward, creepy boys, and (b) his homoerotic attraction to hypermasculinity in the form of hooliganism. This all makes so much sense if we believe the stereotypical accounts of his youth that have him basically sitting home reading Wilde and being terribly, debilitatingly awkward and sickly and etc.)

Add to that the funkiness of Andy Rourke and the perpetually shuffly drumming of Mike Joyce. It's hard to tell, though, how much of this was Marr's doing, as both of those traits seem to be intended to work with his funky/shuffly guitar leanings.

But maybe someone who is older than me and was living in the U.K. in the early 80s can offer a better take on exactly how odd they sounded at the time. Surely "Hand in Glove" was a big surprise when it first hit the radio?

Nitsuh, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

They sounded remarkably fresh when they came out in 83', this was when the dominant style in the UK was faux-soul/funk/jazz e.g Style Council/Nick Heyward/Galaxy. Guitar rock was pretty infra dig at the time, anybody remember rockist as an insult?

The thing with the Smiths is that they were one of those bands, and this seemed quite common among postpunk Manc bands, was how difficult it was to work out what the influences were. Compare that with say contemporaries like the Bunnymen or the Icicle Works and you'll see what I mean. Now we know it was a mix of Twinkle and Bert Jansch.

Billy Dods, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Maybe part of the success lay in the fact that while most Mancunian rock bands of the period were exclusively dark, the Smiths -- in yet another paradox -- managed to be dark in a vivacious, campy, almost-ecstatic way. I mean, the intent verges on humor at some points -- "Nowhere Fast," for instance. Echo and the Bunnymen didn't seem to figure this out how to work this until several albums in.

Nitsuh, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Great question - I'll get to this tomorrow.

Dr. C, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Didn't Orange Juice set a tiny bit of a precedent for this sort of thing? Jangly Byrdsy sound w/ "frightfully camp" lead singer? Of course, Morrissey was a far stranger, more complicated, more magnetic character than Edwyn Collins, but when I first heard "Hand in Glove" a million years ago, I thought of Orange Juice.

Arthur, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Arthur: OK, fine - and I thought someone would say something like that. I still feel like the Smiths 'programmatically' combined odd elements in a new way.

Dr C: great answer - but Why, Dr C? Why?

Billy Dods: I have never ever heard rockist *except* as an insult. (Funnily enough, I think I first encountered the word in Reynolds, re. Marr, Sept 1989.)

NItsuh - thanks for the answers. Weirdness: yes. Humour: of course - it's not a hint or a subtext, it's a big aspect of the schtick. I agree with you, of course, re. Marr's diversity - this was one of the reasons he stands out so much; he seems to have *seen further* than most musicians - and also, had the technical capacity to put what he had in his head onto vinyl. But the jangle (Byrds, if you like) think is still central - was still the default setting - so I think it remains central to my (bemused) question.

I like your details on Morrissey's identity too - BUT are you sure about the 'gynophobia' thing? (I take it this means something like misogyny - is that right?) I mean, he was also interested in feminist texts, as far as I can remember. A conflicted character in this regard, maybe?

As for "having a car with *'only'* a tape deck"... jeez. That's what I call living in the World's Only Remaining Superpower.

the pinefox, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

re feminism: wasn't his close pre-fame friend linder (of ludus and the orgasm addict sleeve) who = v.aggressive feminist (my friend LN recalls appearing on-stage w.Cath Carroll as Linder's gogo dancers, dressed in capes of raw meat and wearing enormous black dildos) (which = feminism, er, i'm not sure how) (so yes, conflicted)

mark s, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

On gynophobia/feminism - possible that he was full of both fear and respect simultaneously?

Tim, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Re: 'Gynophobia'/Feminism - Moz and Linder are still matey. She now takes many of his tour pics. And 'Shakespeare's Sister' is also the title of a proto-feminist Virgina Woolf essay.

Andrew L, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I would probably like the Smiths if only they'd found someone to write them some decent melodies. And get rid of that damn "singer." I don't freaking care how "British" he sounds; he has no energy.

Jack Redelfs, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Pinefox this was all done back in 1987 on the South Bank Show re *strangeness* of the band and formative stages. Don't you remember that show? references to George Formby, the unique guitar playing of Marr, and Morrissey's unusual persona and cultural reference points.

On a related note there was an obscure Liverpool independent band called Pink Industry would released a fine single about Morrisse, What I Wouldn’t Give.

The band would steer even closer to the mainstream with their next single, a 7" of "What I Wouldn’t Give" b/w "Bound By Silence" (1985), taken from their forthcoming album. A fantastic single, it became an immediate collector’s item because of the cover that was adorned with Morrissey’s photograph, illustrating a lyric in the song: "That’s my Smiths tapes you never wanted to hear, throw them away, Morrissey in the bin?, if it would bring you back again."

I am not to sure of the precise meaning of this track, maybe celebrating the individuality of Morrissey - but this is one of the finest atmospheric pop tracks i have ever heard. In way it reminds me of Shriekback on this big hush or faded flowers - intricate softly spoken higly atmospheric haunting music.

Pink Industry was a brilliant electronic-industrial-atmospheric act out of Liverpool. Fronted by the charismatic Jayne Casey, they put out three albums and a brace of singles between 1982 and 1985, with a few compilations following in their wake. Jayne had previously fronted two acts–seminal Liverpool punk band Big in Japan, and art- house throwaway act Pink Military

The strangeness of The Smiths in away was put into context on this single, how many artists have songs directly sung about them by other artists in a deeply passionate sense - after a relatively short period of time. This single came out in 1985 and got played a few times on John Peel and RTE Dave Fanning shows back in the summer of 1985.

Apparently Jayne Casey knew Morrissey

the only pink industry i know of were from liverpool, england. the only mention i ever heard of them was in the smiths book _the complete story_ by mick middles. described as "wild and intelligently wacky", led by jayne casey, "fashion queen, mother superior, and friend of morrissey".

DJ Martian, Monday, 24 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Folk-pop jangle? Great for Europussies who needed a 'band' to live vicariously through but couldn't handle actually 'rock'. Never meant shit to me and never will. I'm with Rollins on this one.

dave q, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

But Rollins only hated the Smiths because he was too pussy (or uptight maybe) to live vicariously through them.

(Also having heard his 'stand-up' you have to assume he was jealous of Morrissey for being funny sometimes)

Tom, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I was HUGELY Smiths-obsessed in high school and could be found in downtown Minneapolis trying to lay my hands on everything I could, inc. James Dean Is Not Dead (Morrissey's hackjob JD book written when he was very young). I had Pink Industry and Ludus records (the Ludus I * really* wanted to be good but they had all sorts of yucky freejazz Sax Work on them, urggh).

Morrissey was a HYOOGE feminist of the Brownmiller/Dworkin school, which is very attractive to 16-year-old fag hags in training ('Mom, I'm okay downtown because the gay guys in the record store keep an eye on me.' 'Whaaaaaaaat?!?'). Linder Sterling/Mulvey from Ludus was his best punk friend (she also designed Magazine and Buzzcocks sleeves) and the person who inspired Cemetry Gates. Mark S is right - she did wear the meat dress at a gig and was part of a coterie of tough feministas inc. the Naylor sisters and Cath Carroll. She does these weird sub-Richard Hamilton collages for art - Nick Momus and I went to see these a few years back 'cos his friend Andrew Renton was showing them in his gallery (now defunct). We were both a bit disappointed, Nick more 'cos Howard Devoto failed to turn up. Linder is now partnered up with the novelist/pop critic Michael Bracewell (who I like very much). YEARS ago when I was in Manchester visiting friends we walked into the big posh Waterstone's and she was managing it, so jaw/floor moment for me!

Jayne Casey last I heard was the director of the Bluecoat Centre in Liverpool - she's artworld big there.

Although I *hated* Johnny Marr for the latter half of 1987 he (and the Bunnymen) were *so good* at gutar it turned my head from the dark synth stuff I liked before I discovered the Smiths. It wasn't until I actually visited England and met the beermonster casual element of their later fan base that I managed to calm down about love for said group (and it did annoy me that Morrissey, who supported socialist causes, would wind up shafting the rhythm section). When I moved here I quickly met all kinds of music industry people who had been friends with him at one stage or another, but there were surprisingly few 'stories' if you know what I mean.

As to the skins and cholo boys Morrissey seems to be obsessed with now, it's definitely a case of Fancying What Is Most Terrifying/Physically Threatening to self.

suzy, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Of course, we can totally dismiss anything Dave Q says about anything after his assertions that a)London hasn't recovered from the Blitz and b) Rollins is right. What a chump.

DG, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

"as for the skins and cholo boys"

Can someone explain all this stuff to me about Morrissey in the present. I know very little about him or the Smiths but I always hear about some vague racial thing but never get a clear cut idea about what people are talking about.

hans, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Wow, that 'blitz' comment seems to have wound up some people something amazing! Wonder what Steve Strange would've thought.

dave q, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

OK, here I go with an attempt at explaining.

Morrissey has always had a fetish for tough boys because they are so different from him. Also, fear stimulates the adrenals in the same way as arousal, so perhaps he's mixed up the thought of getting his arse kicked with the thought of getting his arse...well, you know. This became a lot more pronounced after he left the Smiths. I've never believed he has a problem with racial issues, just that in certain areas a guy like him who is literate but not terribly disciplined or qualified in his education might try to comment on certain Matters Of The Day and cause misunderstanding. A lot of his writing is about Difference, but when it's not about being a little bit strange/outcast/ queer I think it's clumsy.

Fetishising tough boys as the Other is a BIG part of the aesthetic of gay men who grew up in the 70s and 80s; if you look carefully at the personnel of fashion shoots etc. in Brit magazines you'll soon see that most of the skinhead/hooligan shoots are put there by gay guys of un certain age. In America, the peachfuzz mullet pickup boy serves the same function to designers like Jeremy Scott and writers like Dennis Cooper.

Morrissey now lives in Silverlake in LA, big home of fanciable cholo boys. Most of the gay guys I know who've lived there think they're cute because of the unattainable aspect. Note to LA cholo boys with a sensitive side: if you fancy a sugar daddy, you'd have thousands to choose from.

suzy, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Rockist as an insult - used IIRC by a number of different factions in different ways. For example, by new-rom/synth poppers against ALL guitar music, OR as Billy says, by soul-jazzers in a similar way, OR indie-guitar fans (EATB, Smiths, Cocteaus) against TRAD-guitar music (pub-rock, metal, heavy-rock). What was REALLY infra-dig at the time was the guitar SOLO, rather than the guitar. Just about anything with a solo was automatically 'rockist'.

On to The Smiths. I'd say the single biggest 'miracle' about the Smiths is that somehow Johnny Marr firstly 'clicked' with an oddball like Morrissey, and secondly, that he was able to find a way to accomodate and harness Moz's eccentricities within a viable working band. This is based on evidence from Johnny Rogan's book (Morrissey and Marr : The Severed Alliance) and a few conversations with Smiths/Morrissey insiders. Marr's genius as a guitarist and arranger is evident, but I think it's even more incredible that he managed to work with Morrissey for 5 prolific years before the inevitable falling out.

Part of this is in the basic practicalities of song-writing. By all accounts Morrissey's words would often appear in different places in the arrangement to where Marr had expected (verses became middle 8's, or Moz would sing across a transition...etc). This may account for the way that many Smiths songs don't have a normal structure or easily identifiable chorus, especially the earlier material. This lack of concern for (or lack of knowledge of..) conventional forms (on the part of Morrissey) helped a great deal to set them apart from the rest. It probably loosened-up Marr from some of the more trad. influences which he might have been tempted to copy. So, I'd say that in terms of FORM, little was planned, at least initially.

Of course we wouldn't be bothering to think/write about this if it were not for the startling subject matter and language of Morrissey's lyrics. In some ways it's quite amazing how you can make such an impact by speaking so directly. Then again think how contemporaries like Ian McCullough were still largely using rock-trad language inherited from The Doors, Lou Reed etc.

Possibly Morrissey's most staggering achievement is to draw on so many largely untapped sources of language to weave togther his words. Camp humour, pathos, Northern dourness, everyday sayings ("The devil will make work for idle hands to do"), heroic superiority (" We may be hidden by rags, but we've something they'll never have"). Sure, you can find examples of each of these around the place before the Smiths, but no-one had ever integrated them into a coherent WORLD before.

Someone asked what initial impact the Smiths had. I remember listening to a 7-inch of "Hand in Glove" when it was released and liking, but not loving it, immediately. I remember spending a lot of time with it trying to figure out exactly WHAT was so different about it, as did a lot of my friends. It definately made an impression, but didn't knock us flat. I guess it was just a tantalising glimpse of Morrissey's world. I saw them live at the Lyceum with Howard Devoto (3rd London show?) and it was clear that something big was coming, even though the set still relied too heavily on B-grade stuff like Miserable Lie and Hand That Rocks The Cradle. When "This Charming Man" was released my friends and I hated it! Friend NG's comment "They've turned into The Farmer's Boys" summed up our initial response to the chirpy hi-life guitar, the jaunty swing of the beat, and the camp lyrics. I still think of this comment every time I hear TCM. I'm not sure whether the album came next, or the "What Difference Does It Make" single, but from that point you couldn't ignore them.

I can't dispute that The Smiths were, as Pinefox puts it, a major incident in pop history. Somehow, I rarely play them these days, and I struggle to enjoy them as much as I once did - I get the impression that history has not been totally kind. I'll dig out a couple of albums tonight and try to make sense of these thoughts.

Dr. C, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Re Morrisey & rough trade - is this an example of 'false consciousness'? Serious question BTW

dave q, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

RT the record label or RT the proclivity?

suzy, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Hans - around the time of 'Your Arsenal' , Morrissey began to drape himself in the Union Jack while performing, and often talked abt how much he loved skinheads. His song 'The National Front Disco' contained the line "England for the English", apparently a quote from the character the song is about; an earlier track called 'Bengali in Platforms' included the line "life is hard enough when you belong here", suggesting that the Asian fashion victim of the title did not 'belong' here (here = the UK.) Morrissey was accused of racism by the music papers, a charge he denied as ludicrous, but which he refused to refute in detail.

This wasn't the first time that the music papers branded Moz a racist. During The Smiths heyday, NME soul boy Paolo Hewitt ( IIRC) claimed that the song 'Panic' was racist, because the line "burn down the disco, hang the blessed DJ" was implicitly an attack on black musical forms like disco and funk, and talk of hanging recalled the language of the lynch mob. Moz also famously said that "All reggae is vile".

More generally, Moz has always lamented the death of England - or his vision of England, shaped by kitchen sink dramas, camp comedies, mods and rockers violence, images of rundown seaside towns etc. An England corrupted by outside influences, chiefly American consumer culture (ironic considering that Moz now lives in the USA). In this way, Moz can be seen as part of an English socialist tradition that streches back at least to Orwell - the working classes have been seduced by the empty, gaudy trash of an imported culture that has cut them off from their 'authentic' roots and 'heritage'. Yet at the same time, Morrissey worshipped The New York Dolls...

Basically, the contradictions are endless... 'For what it's worth', I don't think Morrissey is or was a racist, but his obsession w/ the nature of Englishness, his indifference to dance music, and his previously mentioned homoerotic fascination/loathing for the bully bad boy, did drag him into some pretty murky waters. But Ironically, at the height of Moz's flirting with fascism period, he was booed off-stage by racist skinhead Madness fans who hated seeing their beloved Union Jack soiled by Moz's poovery...

Andrew L, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

LA is chocka with mourners for Merrie Olde Ingerland. Also full of champagne socialists who loathed Thatcher/Major and couldn't be arsed to subsidise either.

I always had the idea that Britain in the 50s and 60s had this nice can-do attitude when all the trad class distinctions were starting to erode (well, if you were a clever working-class angry young man). If you got involved in the music biz in the 80s you'd have been seriously disabused of the notion that Britain was on its way to better, more egalitarian times.

suzy, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I'm still savoring the phrase "peachfuzz mullet pickup boy".

Sean, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

That Blitz comment only got to me cos it was an amazingly stupid thing to say, and don't go claiming you didn't mean it either, DQ.

DG, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

What I REALLY meant to say was, "Even the Blitz wasn't enough to make the place bearable!" Happy now?

dave q, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Pah! You said something stoopid and now you're trying to wriggle out of it. Go and sit in the corner. [Excuse us, people who are answering the question properly.]

DG, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I should explain the "gynophobia" tag, above, because it's not necessarily exclusive of the capacity for feminism -- it's more of a personal / emotional tendency than a political or intellectual one. What I'm trying to get at is the all-consuming fear and loathing of women and heterosexual acts on that first record. Most explicit in "Pretty Girls Make Graves," but hinted in the squalid depiction of sexuality in "Miserable Lie" and pretty much all over the place -- I assume you guys know what I mean. I'd tag it as a fear of sexuality in general if not for the fact that that fear is a lot less prevalent with regard to men.

It disappears by the next record, though ...

Nitsuh, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I always read it as 'urrgh! breeders!'. Not in the pejorative sense that really queeny guys use, just the annoyance with some kind of biological inevitability and/or shagging just because it's there. But yeah, you're right, Nitsuh, the only woman that ever made Morrissey squirm ever after was old Maggie T.

suzy, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Cor.

1. I like the qualified points that Nitsuh and Suzy have just made - that sounds about right to me.

2. Like I said, this is not meant to be a thread re. the Smiths = grate or rubbish - so with respect and all that, I don't see Jack R's, or Dave Q's comments, as very relevant really. (There's a C/D for that.)

3. I like Cockfarmer's post. Also DG is on the money here.

4. Martian: yes, I saw the programme - which has never been very highly rated - years ago. You seem to be saying that I don't have a clue about the BASICS about the Smiths. What I'm trying to say, rather, is that once you have all those basics, it's still hard to make it all add up.

5. Suzy is right re. otherness, boot boys, etc - in detail.

6. Dr C: fantastic post: I agree with almost everything you say (until towards the end), and I (think I) know what you mean about initial reactions and the way you go back to them later (ie: still thinking about 'TCM' in terms of initial rejection). (Maybe initial reactions have something going for them.) I totally agree with you re. Marr holding things together (ie, how did he cope? etc), and the ('accidental'?) oddity of the structures (*this* is the kind of thing that no-one ever seems to get to discussing, for one reason or another - though it's BASIC to what the band had to offer).

the pinefox, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Andrew's comments are uncanny, because I was thinking about that very thing earlier today. Basically, dogmatic mid-80s Smiths fandom as I see it was the *last breath of Hoggartism* (after Richard Hoggart, "The Uses of Literacy", 1957, specifically its comments on rock'n'roll and coffee shops) before it suffered the twin mortifications of the collapse of Communism and the rise of MTV Europe. "Panic" and "Bengali in Platforms", viewed together, are a genuine reinterpretation of the spirit of Robert Blatchford, something that fascinates me although I don't really think it makes any sense today.

I don't really have anything else to say, except that I'm playing "The Headmaster Ritual" at the moment and it still sounds pretty special to me, though obviously intensely related to a social set-up now long vanished.

God, "Panic" sounds stranger with every year that passes: I don't know whether the Pinefox will agree with me, but I find it their strangest, weirdest, most pathological single, their most passionate yet their most doomed. But I don't think it would have sounded like that in 1986: it's just that the more Britain changes year by year, the more cosmopolitan and hedonistic it becomes, the more it seems like an anthem raging hopelessly against the tide. Time has made "Panic" sound vainglorious: the question is - from someone far too young to understand these things 15 years ago - did it *always* seem like that?

Robin Carmody, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

linder, CC and the naylor sisters — tho some are loosely speaking active non-queers — all i think dwell proudly at the anti-breeder end of the feminista arc (some it is true at the anti-morrissey end of the FA possibly also)

mark s, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

The only time I ever wrote a letter to a music paper was to say please don't hand the world's biggest Tamla/Motown fans a white sheet and burning cross ensemble for not liking reggae or S. Wonder's I Just Called was when Panic was released. I seem to remember the impetus for Panic was Steve Wright playing something TOTALLY INANE after the first Radio 1 bulletins about Chernobyl.

A few years later, of course, the clubs were in thrall to dance music which did say something to people about their lives.

suzy, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

So many interesting points. Dr C your memory of rockist as an insult tallies with mine. There seemed to be three strands to it and both were subtly political. One was a throwback from punk i.e guitar solos were self aggrandising muso wank and distracted from the *message*.

The other was rather more complicated in that it was thought that rock music was aggressively male, white and reactionary. That led to the favouring of soul and jazz as a role model. Not just because the music was good (even though much of it is of course) but because it was more authentic (compared to the pure pop which dominated the charts the year before)but also because it was thought that working class yoof in Thatchers Britain could identify/empathise with the struggle of black music/civil rights as if by osmosis e.g Style Council/Redskins/Housemartins.

The other was of course sexual, guitars of course being phallic symbols they tended to frowned upon unless used in an art school influenced form (Bunnymen) or the floppy fringe brigade (Aztec Camera/Lotus Eaters/EBTG) So Moz’s asexual prescence was just dandy. I remember one of the Fine Young Cannibals saying quite seriously anyone who listened to Jethro Tull must be by default a fascist. Strange times. Thank god the Sonic Youth/JAMC/Sample culture were just around the corner.

I think Panic stands up better than a lot of other Smiths songs, stealing chunks of Metal Guru is no bad thing of course. It doesn't sound like raging against the tide (too joyful) but more a call to arms against mediocrity. The echo of the provincial towns sounds rather quaint now, I can't imagine anyone else singing the praise of Carlisle when you've got the delights of London or NYC to write about. I thought hang the dj referred more to the banal smashie and nicey crew who dominated radio at the time, rather than club culture.At the time though he was probably justified as it was post disco/hi-NRG boom of the late 70's/early 80's but pre acid house boom of 87/88 (which I'm sure Moz loved).

I never got to see the Smiths unfortunately. I did see the Farmers Boys, though it’s not something I brag about. (Did you know exec producer on the Farmers Boys lp was Pete Waterman-it's not something he brags about either).

Billy Dods, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

"something totally inane" - yep, it was just after the first reports of Chernobyl, and the track concerned was Wham!'s "I'm Your Man". I'm not sure that Steve Wright was on air at the time, though: it would ideally have been Gary Davies, a fellow Mancunian who arguably attacked the Hoggart / Blatchford tradition (to which Moz aspired, as I see it) simply by existing, dressing and speaking like he did.

"Hang the DJ" referring to Smashie and Nicey gang - yes, absolutely, but that doesn't detract from the essential nostalgia of "Panic" as a song: a call to arms, absolutely, but also a rather pathetic, blunted one, the children's choir sounding like a vainglorious echo of post- war formality, and I can't help but hear a desperate fear for the future behind the line "Could life ever be sane again?". The strange thing is, though, I think the song is *brilliant*, but what it is based on (broadly, to my ears, desire for a unified working class not indulging in hedonism and love for American pop culture) could never be recaptured, and that is where the brilliance comes from: the desperation to achieve something that could never actually happen, never more perfectly expressed in pop. It isn't that nobody would write about provincial towns now but that provincial towns *just aren't like that anymore*: even compared to 15 years ago, they are as given over to hedonism as anywhere else and totally unresponsive to any remaining echoes of puritan socialism (or puritanism or socialism in any form, really). This is, I think, why Morrissey lives in LA: he would rather not live in Britain than in a Britain unrecognisable from his idea of Britain.

Essential ambivalence is what I love best about the Morrissey of that time, and his worst moments ever have been his most obvious: I personally think of "A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours" (specifically "It has been before / So it shall be again") as referring to the Wilson government / social democratic leadership compared to the Thatcher era, but I can quite see why certain people after the Union Jack / "NF Disco" episode interpreted the song to mean something rather less positive (I don't think that interpretation is *right*, of course ... the ambivalents of pop have to be prepared for occasional stupid misinterpretations: it goes with the territory).

Robin Carmody, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Robin -- I think the Moz lyrical moment that best sums up your take would be "We are the last truly British people you will ever know."

Nitsuh, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I think you've hit on the essential dilemma of Morrisey in that he is passionately in love with the idea of the working class, hence the iconic sleeves Pat Phoenix/Viv Nicholson etc, but ultimately it's unrequited love. I hate to quote Pete Waterman but as he said 'real people (i.e working class) don't listen to his music', that's not entirely true of course but there is a large nugget of truth in his statement. Liam Gallagher, ironically a big Smiths fan, is probably more representative of the working class audience than Morrissey.

Working class culture by and large has always been hedonistic in nature, that's why it's been despised by the liberal cultural elite, some of it only recently getting approval e.g middle classes new love of football.

The other thing is the provincial towns Morrissey loves may have existed at some point, but they had already disappeared, or were disappearing, by the time Panic was written. I was frequently in Dundee at the time and although there may have been socialism I don't remember much in the way of puritanism (but that's quite a different story).

Billy Dods, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

So much good stuff to chew over.... Will rejoin he fray tomorrow. Good to see you back Robin!

Dr. C, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

This is all quite fascinating when compared to the politics of Smiths fandom in the suburban U.S., which was far more simplified: nobody liked the Smiths; if you did, you were therefore odd and effeminate and either To Be Shunned or To Be Beaten, in extreme cases.

Nitsuh, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

But Nitsuh, Smiths fans are odd and effeminate.

Sean, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Oooh, get her.

DG, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Like others have said, this is getting really interesting and involved. Allow me to respond again.

Robin C:

>>> mid-80s Smiths fandom as I see it was the *last breath of Hoggartism*

In large part, yes, this is right. Maybe the M thing about 'illness' (hearing aids etc) stuck out, though? Also re. gender - cos M was 'sexually ambiguous' - and Hoggart's book doesn't have much place for that. (This is the puritan vs bohemian split in M, if you like.)

>>> I don't know whether the Pinefox will agree with me, but I find it their strangest, weirdest, most pathological single, their most passionate yet their most doomed.

Yes - kind of. But like you, I don't think that detracts from its enjoyable fascination. A strange thing, rarely mentioned, is that it's VERY SHORT!

Suzy:

>>> A few years later, of course, the clubs were in thrall to dance music which did say something to people about their lives.

Well - different perspectives here, surely. From the POV of dance fans (or whatever) in 1986, dance music presumably *did* say what they needed; just like (I imagine) it does for dance fans now. It doesn't for me, of course - but you knew that.

Dods: I like the points re. rockism (personally I *love* guitar solos, of course).

>>> The echo of the provincial towns sounds rather quaint now, I can't imagine anyone else singing the praise of Carlisle when you've got the delights of London or NYC to write about.

Well. Just you wait. One day.

>>> It isn't that nobody would write about provincial towns now but that provincial towns *just aren't like that anymore*: even compared to 15 years ago, they are as given over to hedonism as anywhere else and totally unresponsive to any remaining echoes of puritan socialism

Hold on - there seems to be an assumption developing re. M's attitude to provincial towns (which as said in past I find fascinating - the towns, I mean, not the attitude). I don't see it that way. I think he is just *listing* for PANORAMIC EFFECT: it's ALL ENGLAND APOCALYPSE.

>>> The other thing is the provincial towns Morrissey loves may have existed at some point, but they had already disappeared, or were disappearing, by the time Panic was written.

But those towns are still there! Yes, they've changed - but for the better *as well as* the worse, I'd guess (like most things: dialectics as usual).

Back to 'strangeness': this is still the key thing for me. Robin C pinpoints an aspect of it re. the children's choir - an element of sinister otherworldliness, or whatever. Plus, the comic (and retro) eccentricity of Marr's *music* (cf Nitsuh earlier) as well as the unseemly violence of the lyric (M as embarrassing ranting party guest - back to Nitsuh earlier, again)...

It would be interesting to know if 'Panic' could ever have gone another way - if there were more elaborate lyrical drafts that spelled things out more fully (a la 'Queen Is Dead'). But I'm clutching at gladioli, I know (I know, I know...).

the pinefox, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Aw, thanks, Dr C.

Billy: the other Mancunian axis that comes to mind as more representative of genuine latter-day (i.e. post-Thatcher, or rather *irrevocably-changed-by-Thatcher*) Northern working-classness is the Roses / Mondays (the Mondays especially) wing which was in the ascendancy as Morrissey's solo career declined (held back, as I saw it, by long gap between first two proper solo albums causing loss of momentum: instructive that none of his four 1991 singles, from the Our Frank era, made even the Top 20 whereas the first four solo singles all went Top 10). For some reason (and I was actually thinking about this before I knew this thread existed!), I associate "Madchester Rave On" outselling "Ouija Board Ouija Board" five to one in Manchester HMV with the fall of Communism and the emergence of MTV Europe: not only concurrent, but a similar, definitive (or so it seemed) victory of hedonism over any remaining hints of, perhaps foolhardy, ideological conviction.

Provincial towns already changing rapidly by 1986 - well, exactly, kind of strengthens my argument that the central theme of "Panic" is nostalgia and longing. This is, also, its central fascination.

Pinefox: shortness of "Panic" something that occured to me earlier. I personally relate it to the classicism / nostalgia of the song: write a song that evokes provincial towns as they perhaps were around 1963 and make it the length of pop songs of the time (during the British New Wave cycle of films from 1958-63, it wasn't unknown for songs of less than two minutes in length to make Number One: Adam Faith's "What Do You Want?" springs to mind).

The towns are still there, of course, and what is fascinating is just how much they have changed, as anyone who makes a habit of visiting places that feature in old films, TV series, photographs etc. will know. One of the great fascinations of modern Britain is comparing the general informality and hedonism of these places *now* (main exception that comes to mind: Winchester, especially in winter) with images of how they once were. Peter Hitchens was, perhaps for the only time in his life, spot on when he said that traditions can be destroyed just as effectively when you leave the buildings there but chip away at the ideas and feelings that gave them meaning, as when you tear down the buildings themselves. This is the key to how Manchester - and, I suppose, provincial Britain generally - has evolved in contradiction to and refusal of Morrissey's vision of it.

Strangeness: exactly. Listening to "A Rush And A Push ..." and "Death of a Disco Dancer", what comes out is how great they are *as sound*. I'd previously concentrated on Morrissey's words, but what stands out now is how great a *band* they were. For the first time, "Disco Dancer" sounds to me quite as apocalyptic as the title track of "The Queen Is Dead", an epic melodic grind for long after Moz himself is unheard.

There is much more within this thread, I think.

Robin Carmody, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I just remember hearing "Bigmouth Strikes Again" because my friend brought it into 11th grade English class to play and thinking "What a goofy song," so I larfed. Didn't actually get anything by them until two years later, 1989, and never saw any videos or anything or TOTP appearances, and didn't grow up in England, so they just always were. And pretty good, too.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Lucky me, nobody would ever have beaten me up at school for what music I liked. This was also before high-school age kids got down with the concept of Euro = insult. The few sarky comments I got - always, always from metal-loving future gas pumpers and their girlfriends - were inevitably met with this sort of scenario:

(Suzy and Nellie are sitting in the hall in front of their opened lockers which are littered with artfully arranged pin-ups from British and Japanese music mags. They are clearly deep in conversation)

PASSING METALHEAD BOY does a double-take when he sees locker gallery full of Men Wearing Makeup. PMB: "What is that faggot shit?"

SUZY and NELLIE exchange glances. Each girl removes an empty shopping bag from their locker. NELLIE: "'scuse me?"

PMB: "I asked you what that faggot shit was."

NELLIE (offers bag to PMB): "Here, take this."

SUZY (offers second bag to PMB): "Here, take this."

PMB now has TWO BAGS. PMB is puzzled.

SUZY: "Now. Put both bags over your head, DUDE. Keep America beautiful, okay?"

...see, they didn't stand a chance so no real hassle. Mallrat girls who had 'hair' comments were encouraged to look five years into the future, where if they had not managed to reproduce with a football player, they might actually HAVE the haircut I was sporting that day. In the same future I would of course be having my hair cut where I would never have to look at their bad style ever ever again. Besides, there weren't enough of US to form an actual Breakfast Club-type subcult so we were very confusing for THEM.

suzy, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Robin sez : "Morrissey's solo career declined (held back, as I saw it, by long gap between first two proper solo albums causing loss of momentum..."

Not sure I agree. Sitting out Madchester was probably a wise move, but the single biggest cause of the decline HAS to be the fact that Kill Uncle was so spectacularly awful. Virtually EVERYTHING which was good about the Smiths had gone by now. (By the way, except for the singles, I really don't like Viva Hate either).

Somehow that knife-edge balance between camp, misery, humour, nostalgia and arrogance, which he kept throughout the Smiths career is out of whack much of the time. Too much or too little of any of these carefully-juggled elements resulted in nonsense like King Leer, Bengali in Platforms, Little Man What Now, Late Night Maudlin Street,Alsatian Cousin etc. Maybe the lay-off before Kill Uncle gave him too much time to think about how and what, rather than doing what came naturally in The Smiths. Working with hacks like Street, Langer and Nevin couldn't have helped much either.

Arthur makes a good point about a possible precendent in Orange Juice, and for the Postcard singles, it makes good sense. Simply Thrilled Honey and Blue Boy in particular have that odd structure and slightly distanced feel which marked out Hand In Glove. I sense that Collins was a much less complex character than Morrissey, and consequently less interesting. The post-Postcard era showed that he had nothing much to say.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Hold on - there seems to be an assumption developing re. M's attitude to provincial towns (which as said in past I find fascinating - the towns, I mean, not the attitude). I don't see it that way. I think he is just *listing* for PANORAMIC EFFECT: it's ALL ENGLAND APOCALYPSE.

I agree, pf. It's funny - I was thinking of posting a thread about Panic a while ago and thought better of it. What I was going to ask was 'what does this song MEAN?' Or more specifically, what do the chorus and verses have to do with one another? But then I decided it would make me look stupid. Of course I understand the connection, but it struck me as a perfect example of Morrissey's (Smiths era) approach to songwriting- so many self-contained lines/notebook fragments/twisted aphorisms that somehow end up constituting a lyric. If someone asked me what situation Morrissey was describing, or point he was making in a lot of Smiths songs I'd have no straightforward answer. He changed style a bit on Meat is Murder ('The Headmaster Ritual' is perhaps his best sustained direct, transparent song) but he never really lost his predilection (knack?) for opaque, ambiguous, cut and paste lyrics (torrents of words falling over themselves) until a little way into his solo career.

A thing that rarely gets mentioned: Mick Middles' book (yes, I know it's terrible) insists that when Morrissey & Marr started out, their plan was to become a songwriting team, not a band. Does anyone know if that's true?

Nick, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I think PF's urge to put the strangeness down to such a simple synthesis is perhaps an oversimplification. But if we go along with it for the time being, then I think we have to agree with Arthur and Dr. C that Orange Juice pulled off *a* synthesis of similar elements some years before, if not precisely the same synthesis.

That begs the question what was different about the Smiths. I would tend to argue that, musically, they were *less* strange than early Orange Juice: a fuller sound, less angular and difficult, less scratchy. Which is to say, I suppose, that they were more palatable to a pop/rock mainstream. I recall very well hearing "What Difference Does It Make" and "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" on Radio 1 on the bus to school. I can't imagine any of those first few OJ singles making it onto the breakfast show.

There's also clearly a big chunk of J. Rotten in the Morrissey persona: that ill, contrary outsider bit, handing down his crushing barbs with total disdain. I suppose you could argue that, musically, the Smiths were the first band in a musical generation to consider themselves nothing to do with punk (and punk as just a detail of history). They made themselves palatable to punk-obsessed likes of me by the Rotten-ness of SPM. Just a thought.

Tim, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

("the first band in a musical generation to consider themselves nothing to do with punk (and punk as just a detail of history)": tim you are once again forgetting IAN PAIGE and SECRET AFFAIR!!)

mark s, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Apropos The Jam: I really like Bruce Foxton and feel like he is kind of a comparable bass player, but maybe his style was more what one expected from a guy playing with a pick than Andy’s was. Have to think about this, may walk it back and retract it if people give me static for saying it.

I & I, Claudius (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 19 May 2023 22:23 (one week ago) link

Heh, never knew that originally Bruce was the lead guitarist and Paul Weller played bass.

I & I, Claudius (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 19 May 2023 22:23 (one week ago) link

I am shockingly old to have learned this. I may have read it in Paolo's book years ago, but if so I had forgotten it.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Friday, 19 May 2023 22:43 (one week ago) link

he co-wrote "Yes, I Am Blind" and "Girl Least Likely To."

Never really understood the co-writing credit for Girl Least Likely To given that it is note-for-note identical to the Cookies' Only To Other People. And since you'd have to assume that ripping the Cookies off was Morrissey's idea, I guess it was a rare example of Moz being charitable to a former bandmate? Or maybe connected to Rourke settling his claim against M&M? I don't know.

Eyeball Kicks, Friday, 19 May 2023 22:47 (one week ago) link

Foxton wasn’t an arranger or orchestrator the way Rourke was (with a few exceptions, particularly “In The City”). I love both bassists, but as a novice bass guitarist when I first heard both the Smiths and the Jam in 1985, Bruce’s lines were a helluva lot easier to figure out. Whatever Rourke played, that’s where the song had to go; whatever Foxton played was what the song required. Foxton played probably my all-time favorite Rickenbacker bass moment — that glissando stab in the bridge of “When You’re Young” — and had an incisive melodic sense, but he wasn’t baffling like Rourke was.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 19 May 2023 23:05 (one week ago) link

I feel like they aren't that similar aside from being busy, Rourke was way more funk/R&B

Yes, these are both good posts.

I & I, Claudius (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 19 May 2023 23:30 (one week ago) link

Andy brought crucial elements of dub and hip-hop to The Smiths?

Bruce Foxton is a decent call but I feel that he's often busy for busy's sake, possibly borne from being a guitarist too, Bruce Thomas was mentioned, and if you had handed BT a pick and a chorus pedal in 1978 and told him to punk it up a bit, you may have gotten similar results.

Rourke was a very contained player, vividly contrapuntal but not flashy, aware of the framework of 'the song' but just preferring to build a lovely little motor inside it that could be removed intact and analyzed/appreciated in its own right.

String me up, but the best analog I can think of is Alex James, who was no doubt influenced as much by ABBA and disco as he was by Rourke himself.

MaresNest, Friday, 19 May 2023 23:48 (one week ago) link

Oh and 'Barbarism', plays the same four-bar line for six minutes, then during the breakdown at the end, he makes one absolutely exquisite little deviation then stops, total fucking genius.

MaresNest, Friday, 19 May 2023 23:50 (one week ago) link

I was super-lucky to be at the 1985 Irvine Meadows show with the 16 minute version of "Barbarism" as the final (x3) encore. I wasn't familiar with them at all (outside of "How Soon..."), but my takeaway was that Rourke was the real hero - as essential as Entwistle, but not sounding like a herd of elephants.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-KTvKP1KVU

Elvis Telecom, Friday, 19 May 2023 23:57 (one week ago) link

Elvis Telecom, I was at that show too.

Bee OK, Saturday, 20 May 2023 00:02 (one week ago) link

I knew them though as it was the Queen is Dead show, if I remember correctly.

Bee OK, Saturday, 20 May 2023 00:05 (one week ago) link

So lucky! What's amazing about that version is there's no dropout section, JM plays throughout. I must dig out the Royal Albert Hall '85 boot with Pete Burns duetting on Barbarism and re-listen.

MaresNest, Saturday, 20 May 2023 00:09 (one week ago) link

If you look at that ticket price it cost $18 to see The Smiths in Los Angeles in 1985, unbelievable but all shows were around that price.

Bee OK, Saturday, 20 May 2023 00:12 (one week ago) link

I knew them though as it was the Queen is Dead show, if I remember correctly.

Nope. It was the last US show for the Meat Is Murder tour. (set list)

Elvis Telecom, Saturday, 20 May 2023 00:26 (one week ago) link

If you look at that ticket price it cost $18 to see The Smiths in Los Angeles in 1985, unbelievable but all shows were around that price

Technically, The Smiths was free for me because a couple of friends had an extra ticket and needed someone with a car.

I'm seeing The Cure on Sunday and when I first saw them in 1984 at my college gym (UC Irvine's Crawford Hall), tickets were $11.

Elvis Telecom, Saturday, 20 May 2023 00:31 (one week ago) link

The other great unique bass player i think of is Graham Maby, another phenomenon. I agree with the post abt the song being required to follow Andy. Foxton and Maby both incredible players though

matcha man (outdoor_miner), Saturday, 20 May 2023 00:58 (one week ago) link

Graham Maby is a great addition, thanks!

I & I, Claudius (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 May 2023 01:30 (one week ago) link

Feel like maybe if Johnny had been a lesser, less charming man he might have simplified, erased or buried those bass lines in the mix à la Lou Reed and Bob Quine or Paul Westerberg and Bob Stinson, instead of cheering and egging on his pal.

I & I, Claudius (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 May 2023 01:43 (one week ago) link

Derek Forbes comes to mind as a unique, bass phenom too

Elvis Telecom, Saturday, 20 May 2023 02:17 (one week ago) link

Many xps but MaresNest has brought great insight into , thank you.

I love Maby as well, especially on Night and Day.

Another potential comparison is to Peter Hook but maybe now is not the time for that conversation.

she works hard for the monkey (Ye Mad Puffin), Saturday, 20 May 2023 02:36 (one week ago) link

I was thinking of Hooky too for comparison, but he is much more of a lead bass player than a busy player who is still functioning as a bassist.

I & I, Claudius (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 May 2023 02:42 (one week ago) link

Redd otm. Oh and Tarfumes also bringing good insight into the artistry of different bass players - shaping the song vs. responding to it and giving it exactly what it needs.

I don't really have a detailed ranking for these dudes; i just think we are fortunate to live in a world that has had such musicians in it.

she works hard for the monkey (Ye Mad Puffin), Saturday, 20 May 2023 02:45 (one week ago) link

There may be another point to be made about how it is kind of tricky to play bass busily so as to add to the song and not ruin it by being sloppy, unfocused, out of step with everyone else or committing various other offenses.

I & I, Claudius (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 May 2023 03:05 (one week ago) link

Les Pattison from the Bunnymen was an underrated bassist of the era. Thinking of stuff like "The Back of Love" or "The Cutter".

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 20 May 2023 04:08 (one week ago) link

having played bass for a long time I think it's an easy instrument to be good at and a hard instrument to be great at. you have to listen.

^this

I & I, Claudius (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 May 2023 05:41 (one week ago) link

I sometimes think that the Boy with the Thorn in his Side 12", with this segueing into Asleep on the b-side was the perfect Smiths artefact.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3baT8twPM9s

Who else ever sounded like this? Like the swamp blues being invented by the Brontës in 1828. Andy's bass and cello take it to another dimension.

Piedie Gimbel, Saturday, 20 May 2023 07:18 (one week ago) link

that extended version of Barbarism gave me full body chills -- thank you for sharing. i could listen to Smiths instrumentals all day.

Piggy Lepton (La Lechera), Saturday, 20 May 2023 14:08 (one week ago) link

which is to say that Moz can't befoul the music even if he befouls everything else he touches

Piggy Lepton (La Lechera), Saturday, 20 May 2023 14:09 (one week ago) link

If you look at that ticket price it cost $18 to see The Smiths in Los Angeles in 1985, unbelievable but all shows were around that price.

― Bee OK, Friday, May 19, 2023 5:12 PM (yesterday)

100% untrue. The show the night before (in, like, actual Los Angeles) was $13.50.

https://i.imgur.com/HAfIbKs.jpg

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Saturday, 20 May 2023 14:49 (one week ago) link

Hadn’t realized he had played on Morrissey solo material, now I am curious about which recordings exactly.

Last Of The Famous International Playboys and Interesting Drug both have an all-Smiths lineup (Morrissey, Rourke, Joyce and Gannon)

least said, sergio mendes (sic), Saturday, 20 May 2023 16:27 (one week ago) link

during the lifetime of the Smiths, I strongly disliked all post-Police, post Clash English acts of the 80s; by the 2000s, I could get over this enough to pick up Hatful of Hollow at the FMU record fair, and man was that a revelation. by 2013, I was looking to expand the remit of the punk-metal karaoke act that I had been running since 1999 in NYC, and so we did a new wave night: like UMS, I was flummoxed like a motherfucker trying to ace "This Charming Man."

I would add that above all, the quality that all bass players, even modestly skilled players, should keep in mind, should they be feeling unappreciated and inferior to the guitarist, relegated to root fifth, root fifth, root fifth like a drone, is that the song or composition or groove at its most fundamental level is located in what YOU are doing the overwhelming majority of the time.

veronica moser, Saturday, 20 May 2023 17:13 (one week ago) link

You disliked the Beat?!

the dreaded dependent claus (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 20 May 2023 17:21 (one week ago) link

I used to try to play along to “This Charming Man” although I never performed it with anyone else. Don’t know what exactly I was doing, must have been some simplified version, since last night I tried it for the first time in decades and couldn’t quite figure it out.

Cathy Berberian Begins at Home (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 May 2023 17:26 (one week ago) link

But why pamper life’s complexity?

Cathy Berberian Begins at Home (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 May 2023 17:29 (one week ago) link

If you look at that ticket price it cost $18 to see The Smiths in Los Angeles in 1985, unbelievable but all shows were around that price.
― Bee OK, Friday, May 19, 2023 5:12 PM (yesterday)

100% untrue. The show the night before (in, like, actual Los Angeles) was $13.50.

― citation needed (Steve Shasta), Saturday, May 20, 2023 7:49 AM

Why are you saying untrue? I was making a general point. Yes, I'm technically from Orange County and not Los Angeles but it's the Los Angeles TV and Radio market. I listened to KROQ at that time as OC didn't have like a similar radio station and ironically I did see that Palladium Smiths show too. That show cost $14.25, as you need to add the service fee.

Bee OK, Saturday, 20 May 2023 17:42 (one week ago) link

Or I should have said $15.25, so yeah my point stands.

Bee OK, Saturday, 20 May 2023 17:47 (one week ago) link

I thought it was a good-humoured "actually it was even cheaper than that!"

Alba, Saturday, 20 May 2023 17:50 (one week ago) link

https://i.imgur.com/uU5JsyD.jpg

My actual ticket stubs with some bonus shows I saw. This was the third and last time I saw them and this would be The Queen Is Dead tour. This one cost me $19.50, inflation lol.

Bee OK, Saturday, 20 May 2023 18:13 (one week ago) link

There's part of me that regrets missing these shows massively (though granted I was in San Diego rather than the LA area). At the same time, I kinda appreciate how this *wasn't* my high school listening -- college, sure, but it's nice not to have those bands/music tangled up with said high school times. Probably explains why they last for me.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 20 May 2023 18:18 (one week ago) link

I wish I still had my ticket stubs. I saw them in 1986 at what we affectionately called the "Cement Center" on the University of Colorado campus.

The Smiths
September 3, 1986
CU Events Center, Boulder, CO

Still Ill
I Want the One I Can't Have
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
How Soon Is Now?
Frankly, Mr. Shankly
Panic
Stretch Out and Wait
The Boy With the Thorn in His Side
Is It Really So Strange?
Cemetery Gates
Never Had No One Ever
What She Said
(with Rubber Ring intro and outro)
That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
Meat Is Murder
Rusholme Ruffians
(with (Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame intro)
The Queen Is Dead

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 20 May 2023 18:37 (one week ago) link

Our seats were pretty far back, so it was hard to get a solid impression of the band. I did get to see Mike and Andy playing with Sinead on her first US tour a couple years later, we were right up front. I had no idea they were touring with her until I saw them. What a magic moment that was.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 20 May 2023 18:41 (one week ago) link

Meanwhile their music is almost entirely tied into my miserable high school experience to a profound degree. I don’t think I listened to this band for 15 years after hs until it seemed like distant history bc my life had changed sufficiently.

Piggy Lepton (La Lechera), Saturday, 20 May 2023 18:48 (one week ago) link

I can find almost no evidence online of that Sinead show, other than these photos from her press conference of the same day. Odd.

https://fairangels.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/sinead-oconnor-in-denver-1988/

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 20 May 2023 18:50 (one week ago) link

xp I can relate, LL. For me, it was the middle of my college career, a time when I felt lonely, isolated and exhausted. I found the Smiths affirming as well as depressing.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 20 May 2023 18:51 (one week ago) link

Bee OK forgot to mention that the $17.50 Nov 1986 New Order show at Irvine Meadows also included The Fall and The Durutti Column as openers

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 21 May 2023 05:52 (one week ago) link

Bee OK forgot to mention that the $17.50 Nov 1986 New Order show at Irvine Meadows also included The Fall and The Durutti Column as openers

I texted some friends that went to this show with me to see if we were on time. We were and The Durutti Column opened the whole damn thing. My mind is sort of blown right now as I realize that I saw the Fall live.

Thanks ET for taking me down that road for some early memories.

Bee OK, Monday, 22 May 2023 00:16 (one week ago) link

Ah, yes, the "Pumped Full of Drugs Tour."

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Tuesday, 23 May 2023 17:28 (six days ago) link


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