The first of a new series.

It’s inspired in part by the fact that a framed limited edition copy of the above print, signed by the photographer, hangs directly above the space in my house where I have the PC and where I try my best to come up with entertaining words for this blog. It was given to me a year ago yesterday as a 50th birthday present by a dear friend and occasional contributor to the old blog, Mr John Greer.

It’s strange that while The Smiths remain my all time favourite band, I don’t write about them all that much these days, albeit there is a regular series on Morrissey being re-used as filler for posts on Sundays. I thought I’d address the situation by featuring the band in the first of what will be a very occasional series in which I take one of my favourite bands or singers and list what I think would make the idea ‘Best of’ album with a few words on why. The only proviso is that I’m going to do it as a proper old-fashioned LP…10 tracks in total with an A-side and a B-side and it’s got to hang together like a proper LP and not just a collection of greatest hits. Without further ado, here’s my go at The Smiths:-

Side A

1. The Queen Is Dead (Original Unedited Version)
2. Still Ill
3. How Soon Is Now?
4. Rubber Ring
5. Asleep

Side B

1. The Headmaster Ritual
2. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
3. Accept Yourself
4. Bigmouth Strikes Again
5. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

It’s taken about three hours of humming and hawing and numerous changes of mind before I settled on the above. There are loads of songs that I can’t believe didn’t make the final cut which may well invite ridicule from other fans. But the logic is:-

1. The opening track is where any myth that The Smiths were just a singer and guitarist augmented by two session musicians is nailed once and for all….especially on this version with its extra 70 seconds or so of pulsating drums, bass and wah-wah guitar work

2. Self-deprecating and joyous; and impossible not to dance to.

3. Pride of place as the centrepiece of the all-important opening side of the album.

4. The band were better than most at recording something which, on the first few listens, sounded disposable and throwaway and yet with the passing of time revealed itself as something special. Rubber Ring is a tremendous example of this and perfectly complements what had come just before it on this imaginary LP

5. Because Asleep has to follow Rubber Ring. It is the law. And besides it’s time to show the band didn’t need guitars to be very special.

6. If the band had never written and recorded The Queen Is Dead then this was a stick-on to open the LP

7. Every LP recorded by The Smiths had its share of tear-jerking ballads. This is the one I’ve chosen, after much deliberation.

8. An early song thrown away on a 12″ b-side that has more than stood the test of time and long been a personal favourite

9. The song that marked the comeback after 18 months inactivity. It proved they still had it…and a joyous single that deserved to reach #1

10. It’s not a personal favourite but I can’t think of a better way to have a one-off record by the band beautifully fade out and leaving the listener wanting to pick up the vinyl, turn it over and start all over again.

mp3 : The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (Original Unedited Version)
mp3 : The Smiths – Still Ill
mp3 : The Smiths – How Soon Is Now?
mp3 : The Smiths – Rubber Ring/Asleep
mp3 : The Smiths – The Headmaster Ritual
mp3 : The Smiths – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
mp3 : The Smiths – Accept Yourself
mp3 : The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again
mp3 : The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

That was incredibly difficult to do.