Slicing Up Eyeballs readers poll ranks "The Smiths" #1 album of 1984

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Top 100 Albums of 1984: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s — Part 5 - Slicing Up Eyeballs

1. The Smiths, The Smiths
BACKSTORY: Having scrapped their original sessions with Troy Tate, The Smiths made their debut with this John Porter-produced collection — although many fans still prefer the BBC session versions of some of these songs that appeared on the Hatful of Hollow compilation later in 1984.
 
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Girlmostlikely

Active Member
I didn't realize how many great albums came out in 1984! I was reminded of a few I should revisit and possibly add to my collection. There are many CDs and cassettes I used to have that never quite made it to my digital collection, I was reminded of some glaring omissions such as R.E.M.'s Reckoning. It's pretty cool that the Smiths got the nod as #1, fitting for sure!
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Slicing Up Eyeballs adores the Smiths. They pop up on there often. Also Nevver/ThisIsn'tHappiness on Tumblr and, to a lesser extent, GetBackVassifer on tumblr as well.
 
I didn't realize how many great albums came out in 1984! I was reminded of a few I should revisit and possibly add to my collection. There are many CDs and cassettes I used to have that never quite made it to my digital collection, I was reminded of some glaring omissions such as R.E.M.'s Reckoning. It's pretty cool that the Smiths got the nod as #1, fitting for sure!
I have most of those albums on vinyl, to include The Smiths. I LOVE Hatful of Hollow- great album.
 

Johnny Barleycorn

Well-Known Member
At the time many people were ever-so-slightly underwhelmed by the first album. Its darkness clashed against those marvellous full of shimmering light first singles, b-sides and sessions.

Within nine months Hatful Of Hollow had blown everyone away and in just under a year Meat Is Murder came along, so The Smiths first album got buried under an avalanche of sheer brilliance. I think in some ways Hatful was the record many expected when the first album was released. After five minutes of the needle hitting the grooves on Hatful you knew you were listening to something very special indeed.

Listening to the first album even today its a gem. A beautiful, beautiful thing. I wonder what might have happened if This Charming Man hadn't been written and Reel Around The Fountain was released as a single as was planned? TCMs importance to their career can't really be underestimated. It made the national media sit up and listen, in a way even a song as magnificent as Reel would not have.

This Charming Man and Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now in particular fixed the Smiths in the public consciousness in such a way that even three decades later they define the band for many people.

PS: Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions has stood the test of time. Superb album. Nary a duff track on it.
 
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Cornflakes

"A bit iffy" ★★☆☆☆ - AV Club
Morrissey's album of 1984 was Fried by Julian Cope, which is a very good album. "Sunspots" is among the greatest things ever recorded.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Interesting analysis, Johnny Barleycorn.

I had something of a reverse experience with the first two albums.

Being a teenager from America at the time, dependent on what I was exposed to from musically adventurous friends and their older siblings; it was Hatful of Hollow that I heard first, before The Smiths. As can be expected, Hatful blew me away and I became a huge fan of the band, Johnny's melodies/arrangements, and especially Morrissey's lyrics.

And then I heard The Smiths which took my fandom to another level altogether!

This goes against the seemingly common belief that Hatful is better, and indeed, I can see that in many ways, it is. It has, of course, more songs, and more of a "live"-feeling immediacy and energy to it, due to the nature of the Peel Sessions.

So what is it about The Smiths that made me prefer it?

Quite simply, Hatful was missing the brilliant Side 1 closing trilogy of "Miserable Lie", "Pretty Girls Make Graves", and "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle"; and the brilliant album closer "Suffer Little Children".

Though I had Hatful, I hadn't yet bought (as I wasn't even aware of) the debut, so a friend had dubbed me a cassette copy of The Smiths, knowing I already had and liked Hatful. Needless to say, I went out and bought the debut the next day!

My first listen to that dubbed copy was in my room at night, with the lights out, and a soft rain hitting the roof. It was interesting hearing new versions of the first two songs, and then the slow guitar intro and "so goodbye..." come on, introducing "Miserable Lie". The sudden speed up, the honest lyrics, the falsetto finale, just, WOW. And then "Pretty Girls Make Graves" featuring even more unique, daring, and personal lyrics, their emotion perfectly interpreted by Johnny's guitar.

And then, to top it all off, the gorgeous ending guitar fadeout of "Pretty Girls..." giving way to the cathartic lullaby of "The Hand the Rocks the Cradle", which of, course, completely moved me to tears, both as a standalone song, and also due to its position in the running order of the album, which seemed to enhance its power.

And the closer, "Suffer Little Children", equally had this effect on me. Being a "yank", I had no idea that the song was about the moors murders or even what they were, but the emotion of the song was unmistakable - like "Cradle", due to the poetry of Morrissey's lyrics; the tone of both forlorn sadness and deeply sensitive empathy in which they were delivered; and Johnny's musical arrangements perfectly enhancing the lyrical sentiments, with lyrics, voice, and music all complimenting each other perfectly.

I had already loved the Smiths from Hatful, but it was these early, "new to me" songs from the debut - particularly "Cradle" and "Children", that really solidified them as "favorite band" for me and made me a "hardcore" Moz fan.

Interestingly, these were, I believe, 2 of the first (if not THE first) songs Morrissey and Johnny wrote together.

Luckily, since I had the Sire release, my copy of The Smiths had "This Charming Man", which was missing from the UK version at the time. Even though I already knew the song from Hatful, it made the debut stronger with its presence.

Also, whatever one feels about the about the albums' production, I've always felt the running order of the debut was absolutely brilliant -whether intentional or not. With the album's recurring lyrical theme of innocence, what could be a better lead-off than "Reel Around the Fountain"? Here the lines "It's time the tale were told/of how you took a child/and you made him old" don't just introduce the song, but the album as a whole. I expressed above the cathartic effect "Cradle" had on me, enhanced even moreso by following "Miserable Lie" and "Pretty Girls Make Graves". These tracks flow together perfectly for me, with the emotional lyrics of each building on each other and culminating with "Cradle". And then "Suffer Little Children" is the perfect closer as no song on the album could really follow it.

This album was, for me, the benchmark on which all others would be measured. I loved Meat Is Murder (it even inspired me to go veggie!), The Queen Is Dead, the solo career, etc., but nothing to follow would ever affect me as greatly as that first listen to the debut. And nothing to follow would seem as raw, poetic, and achingly beautiful to me as that first effort.

D




At the time many people were ever-so-slightly underwhelmed by the first album. Its darkness clashed against those marvellous full of shimmering light first singles, b-sides and sessions.

Within nine months Hatful Of Hollow had blown everyone away and in just under a year Meat Is Murder came along, so The Smiths first album got buried under an avalanche of sheer brilliance. I think in some ways Hatful was the record many expected when the first album was released. After five minutes of the needle hitting the grooves on Hatful you knew you were listening to something very special indeed.

Listening to the first album even today its a gem. A beautiful, beautiful thing. I wonder what might have happened if This Charming Man hadn't been written and Reel Around The Fountain was released as a single as was planned? TCMs importance to their career can't really be underestimated. It made the national media sit up and listen, in a way even a song as magnificent as Reel would not have.

This Charming Man and Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now in particular fixed the Smiths in the public consciousness in such a way that even three decades later they define the band for many people.

PS: Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions has stood the test of time. Superb album. Nary a duff track on it.
 

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