AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #1: THE SMITHS

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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.

9 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #1: THE SMITHS

  1. I’m impressed it only took you 3 hours. I’d struggle to whittle their discography down to fit a double album!

    But in a nutshell, Side A, Track 3. The definitive Smiths’ song. I remember blagging a 12″ promo copy of “William, it was really nothing” off of the late Scott Piering at Rough Trade (John Peel at Radio 1 had a copy, why not UKC Radio?) Side B Track 5. My personal favourite – so thanks

  2. Great idea. Can I do a spiritualized one? I would find that almost as difficult. I did it once with primal scream and gave up after my top ten had 23 songs.

  3. Impossible task (will be interesting what other bands you choose for this)

    Currently reading Moz’s autobiography and along with the other books I’m amazed that the popular opinion of the debut being a dud.
    From that Still Ill is a must.

    Could compose 5 or 6 different tracklistings and still quibble. But on this one I’d swap Asleep for Well I wonder.

  4. Given me a headache just thinking about this ! Really looking forward to this series

  5. What a great idea and what a fantastic result – in only 3 hours. Congratulation Sir. Looking forward for the upcoming compilations.

  6. Great idea for a new series JC. As the others have said, an almost impossible task but really looking forward to this series…

  7. If you think this was hard, mate, just wait when it comes to The Clash! As for the Smiths my personal album would’ve looked completely different, I’m afraid …

  8. Terrific idea, and a terrific result given what is an almost impossible task. If that album was released, I’d buy it… but then over the years I’ve bought any release with “The Smiths” on the front. so…

  9. great idea… and great choices… it would take me ages to work out my 10 smiths songs for a compilation… i’d be changing my mind every 5 minutes… but glad to see the headmaster ritual… a particular favourite…

    i’m hoping to see the wedding present and the pixies in this series… if you need any help with those give me a shout!

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