The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
However, I have to bite the bullet sometime. So here goes nothing. To my mind, at the end of the day, I regard this as the best Smiths album. There are no really outstanding tracks on it, but the production is better than the first album (hell it couldn't have been worse) and the individual tracks are, by and large, also better. It is also a more complete piece of work than their third. So why the ambivalence? More of the songs on here are better to listen to, with exception of the awful, preachy title track.
Well, I thought the Smiths never really hit the spot the way other contemporary bands did. Although they were heralded as the standard bearers for British indie music I always felt that was a title which sat uneasily with them. Were they post punk? Undoubtedly. Were they commercial? Well, they tried not to be, and mocked many of the things which went with being commercial at the time - the gladioli and the obviously not playing their instruments on Top of the Pops. Are the two incompatible? Don't know. But if an example can be found of a band which remained true to its indie roots, achieved commercial success and proved influential to successive generations of musicians, both within and without the mainstream, then the Smiths are that band.
Their songs exemplify what I mean. What is the best Smiths' track? "Panic". No doubt. No question. Yet it features on no album. The Smiths seemed to leave an impression on me, blurred and indistinct, without having knocked me off my feet. There are times when I can barely remember a melody from the Smiths, yet as soon as I hear one I can pinpoint it instantly. Half the time I cannot identify which album a particular Smiths track comes from (unless I recognise the poor production as the hallmark of the first). Yet when I talk to others who have a similar musical taste to my own, I always seem to be the odd one out. Sometimes I think that the problem lies with me and not with the Smiths.
In the end, I revert back to my test of what constitutes great music. I have to ask myself the simple question, does it move me? The answer is, no! The Smiths do not move me. I do not connect with them in the same way I do with other bands of the era. Morrissey may be miserable, but all too often he comes across as being miserable for miserable's sake, a pathetic whiner rather than with something to say that is worth hearing.
Yet the music, and especially Marr's guitar, eschewing more often than not, the chord for the complex and enticing melodic line that became a staple of jangle pop years later, is ultimately compelling and reassuringly familar. For that reason I find the ambivalence to be the most significant feeling about the band I can muster. It is not that I dislike the Smiths, I just am not able to get worked up about them in the way that many of my contemporaries are.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.