Yes, it’s about The Smiths today.
And about my post yesterday.
This album is a peculiar thing in itself. It came out in 1984. And The Smiths’ debut album “The Smiths”… Also came out in 1984.
What this is, then, is a sort-of compilation of BBC1 radio session [Peel and Jensen] recordings.
And if you ever see an album by an artist you really like and it says “BBC Radio 1 Sessions” or “John Peel Sessions”… Just buy it if you can. Those recordings are often spectacular beasts. The bands often took some time to slightly re-tool their songs for those sessions, they were recorded in a very professional manner and they have a certain feeling to them. It’s… Hard to explain.
It’s also hard on me when it comes to provide a sound-sample, as there is sparsely anything on youtube from this particular album I could let you listen to, and if I’d take a version of those songs from “The Smiths” it wouldn’t offer the distinct quality I’m talking about. So I take one song that wouldn’t have been my first choice, but which still is a powerful offering. And a powerful change. They took out the keyboard part found on “The Smiths” from this and gave the bass part a slightly different twinge.
So, just take a listen to The Smiths – You’ve Got Everything Now.
This is a special album. A special band. All alone, you can buy this album, play it to some indie-hipster and tell them to shut the fuck up because being indie isn’t some sort of “new thing” and The Smiths really showed the world that it certainly was a thing you could sustain. … If you wanted, that this. They didn’t manage more than four main-line albums before breaking up in 1987, managing only five years of “being a band”.
Particularly striking is also their choice of the band name, choosing “The Smiths” to NOT appear ‘pretentious’. Well, music shares something with movies and RPGs then, too: Some things were “first” once and then copied until the breaking point, making their use a highly ironic statement at best. I dare you to give me a “The [X]” these days that isn’t pretentious, ‘ironic’ or trying very, very hard to be ‘edgy’.
It’s like with Tolkien. He made his elves haughty and his dwarves stoic. And generations of later Fantasy writers took his concepts and copied the shit out of them so that nowadays every fantasy world with haughty, long-lived elves and stoic, short-tempered dwarves draws rolled eyes. The same seemed to have happened with The Smiths. They started something to try to NOT look like something else, and the band that followed their footsteps found it cool and copied it… Well… Are the reason why no well-stocked music shop will ever put 90% of all “The” bands under “T”.
But, yes. They were (some of) the first ones of calling themselves “The” and being indie and walking a darker, gloomier road. And back when they did it… It was truly new. It was besides New Wave and after Punk and all-between Hair-Metal and Radio Rock. And it was a success.
Also, compare this with yesterday’s offering, which came out eight years later, which also was different and truly independent. And is now lost to near-total obscurity. That’s the difference proper rotation and “marketing” can make, be it on a national or sub-cultural scale. No word-of-mouth means that even great artists will fade. And proper marketing and huge coffers of cash mean that we get much of the last 12 years in popular music. Because this, The Smiths, was Pop once. As was Madonna. And Michael Jackson. Which is to say… Fuck you, AAA Music Indutry. You fucking sacks of money-hungrey vultures stiffling creativity for selfish gains and easy earnings. Fuck you. I hope your whole industry collapses into itself and never rears its ugly head again.
Go, buy yourselg some Hatful of Hollow.
Even 28 years later it’s still well worth a listen.