This focuses more on Marr and his talent with the guitar than the Smiths as a whole or Morrissey, but I thought maybe some of you might find it interesting:
With the latest issue of Mojo (Radiohead on the cover) you get a little ‘book’ about the ‘100 Greatest Guitar Albums’. The are listed by year, beginning 1929 and ending in the present year. The only album listed for the year 1984 is The Smiths first album, and here is how the text reads:
1984 The Smiths
The Smiths Rough Trade
Out of nowhere, six-string genious rockets pop music into a brand new age.
The Smiths was an inversion of everything conventional rock’n’roll stood for: in this darkly humorous place, with its brutal Victorian iron bridges and bleak moral landscape, men craved romance while girls were only after one thing.
Ostensibly this was Morrissey’s world but its emotional impact was given substance by Johnny Marr’s complex, aching music, his pioneering rhythm-lead style undulating and twisting through delicate, chiming jazz chordings (played on a 12-string Rickenbacker) and angry, flailing post-industrial rock, often built around mysterious tunings and folk blues licks that betrayed Marr’s interest in Bert Jansch and Exile On Main Street. On the wistful Suffer Little Children, exploring Brady and Hindley’s child-killings, it’s Johnny’s studious restraint that creates the sombre, twinkling atmosphere of moral ambivalence and morbid fascination. A great guitar album and not one guitar solo in sight. (PG)
Key Moment: Still Ill, 0:51, where layers of guitar subtly intertwine to create an intricate echo of the song’s swooping leitmotif.
Availability: Warner CD
The album is also listed in a tiny top five list about the ‘Greatest Rockenbacker 12-string Albums’.
The text is this:
The jingle-jangle generator from 1964: a big red Californian beast with paired stings sounding something like two guitars at once.
Top 5 LPs using a Rickenbacker 12-string
1. Automatic for the people REM Warner 1992
2. Oranges And Lemons XTC Virgin 1989
3. A Hard Days Night The Beatles Parlophone 1964
4. The Smiths The Smiths Rough Trade 1984
5. Mr Tambourine Man The Byrds CBS 1965