the biggest difference between Morrissey and Smiths songs is ...

Maurice E

Junior Member
the quality of the singles.
the Smiths singles were, with very few exceptions, blisteringly good.
the Moz singles, post-Bona Drag at least, have been woefully patchy/mediocre with only the occasional exception.

verily, there are plenty of great songs in the Moz back-catalogue but the singles haven't really been up to scratch, or have they? why should this be?

let's all have a heated debate!
 
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Musley

wild and free
the biggest defference between Morrissey and Smiths songs is err Johnny Marr!
 

Maurice E

Junior Member
the biggest defference between Morrissey and Smiths songs is err Johnny Marr!
A very lazy response!
There are tons of great Morrissey songs. The proportion of great solo stuff is clearly lower than the proportion of great Smiths songs but in terms of sheer numbers, there are plenty of brilliant solo songs (as measured objectively in the Houdini poll).
There are also a fair number of below-par Smiths songs but the band (or Morrissey/Marr) had the good sense not to release them as singles.

But why has Moz released so many of his mediocre solo songs as singles? Roy's Keane, The Youngest, Dagenham Dave, You're the one for me, etc.

I have a few theories but the whole thing is pretty perplexing...
 

Musley

wild and free
A very lazy response!
There are tons of great Morrissey songs. The proportion of great solo stuff is clearly lower than the proportion of great Smiths songs but in terms of sheer numbers, there are plenty of brilliant solo songs (as measured objectively in the Houdini poll).
There are also a fair number of below-par Smiths songs but the band (or Morrissey/Marr) had the good sense not to release them as singles.

But why has Moz released so many of his mediocre solo songs as singles? Roy's Keane, The Youngest, Dagenham Dave, You're the one for me, etc.

I have a few theories but the whole thing is pretty perplexing...
OK Maurice a less lazy response. I generally think the Smiths singles were better. They released songs which weren't always on their albums, so I think they kept their best songs for singles. A single was usually to showcase to the world (well when singles were important, that is) of what a band was like. They worked harder therefore saving their stronger songs to release as singles. Whereas Morrissey's singles I feel have not been as strong, I don't know either who decideds which songs are to be released as singles, but think that there have been better Morrissey solo songs than those released, some bad choices. Maybe Morrissey solo thought he didn't need to try as hard as he was already an established artist. I dunno really, what is your theory.
 

Maurice E

Junior Member
OK Maurice a less lazy response. I generally think the Smiths singles were better. They released songs which weren't always on their albums, so I think they kept their best songs for singles. A single was usually to showcase to the world (well when singles were important, that is) of what a band was like. They worked harder therefore saving their stronger songs to release as singles. Whereas Morrissey's singles I feel have not been as strong, I don't know either who decideds which songs are to be released as singles, but think that there have been better Morrissey solo songs than those released, some bad choices. Maybe Morrissey solo thought he didn't need to try as hard as he was already an established artist. I dunno really, what is your theory.
My theory (well one of them at least) is that Moz alone chooses his singles and the musical composer/record company has no say. At least in the Smiths, Marr and Moz made these decision together. I have a friend who was in a moderately successful band who told me how hard it is to assess how good a new batch of songs is. He's amazed at the stuff he chucked away on b-sides when he looks back now but, at the time of writing, it's hard to be objective.

Theory number two is that Moz is obsessed with the notion that a single has to be quite punchy and short (no longer than 4 mins) and this is a main reason for selecting a song. Whereas these days, radio stations are happy to play downbeat stuff (e.g. coldplay, snow patrol songs) as long as they have very strong melodies. Roys Keane and Dagenham Dave were punchy and short, but were also very flimsy melodically. Songs of that era like Nobody Loves Us, Lost, Trouble Loves Me etc were all a bit longer (and deemed by Moz to be unsuitable) but musically were vastly superior and have stood the test of time...
 

nobody's hero

New Member
I think the b-sides from You are the Quarry are fantastic...but anyway: the biggest difference is the lyrics. There were more "stolen lines" and I think the lyrics from the 80's shows that Morrissey was more isolated and depressed back then
 

Maurice E

Junior Member
Yeah the Smiths music is probably more upbeat. If you didn't listen to the lyrics (that wouldn't be possible would it?) but if you didn't you'd think a lot of the songs were happy, cheerful numbers possibly.
Yeah, good point. In fact I think Noel Gallagher was saying exactly that in the 7 Ages of Pop thing at the weekend. Think he was saying how the Smiths songs seem to 'skip along'!
 

Mars_Rover

Junior Member
Roys Keane and Dagenham Dave were punchy and short, but were also very flimsy melodically.
That's the key difference, IMO. Although Morrissey has certainly produced some stellar music in his solo career, a lot of his recent work -- to my ears -- suffers from a tuneless quality.

It doesn't seem likely that he and Johnny M. will compose together any time soon, but how about bringing back Stephen Street?
 

smithskid

New Member

mozmic_dancer

One of the Good Guys
I don't have an answer regarding the difference between Morrissey-solo and the Smiths, however I could offer an answer regarding the biggest common denominator between the two and that would be that regardless of the "quality" of the song, both the Smiths and Morrissey are virturally ignored by commercial daytime radio airplay.

The 80s were an amazing time for pop music in that they were just so many bands; and these bands didn't just come from one place either; they came from everywhere and the competiton for listeners was enormous. The Smiths as good as they were faced an uphill battle for recognition. They were an obvious favorite among most music critics but as far as audience, it was not that huge as most people want to believe and that can be best shown with the chart positions of the singles.

As far as commerical success, I think the Smiths have gained a great mythology surrounding them and in retrospect gained much of their iconic status simply from the uniqueness, but Morrissey edges out ahead in terms of his preserverence, his own legendary standing as solo artist (not always consistant, but pretty damn good) and a sustaining interest on his most recent efforts.
 

PregnantForTheLastTime

Hideous trait.
I think Morrissey is, and always has been, too smart for most people to like him. Most people really aren't that bright, and they resent being reminded of that fact by being asked to think. That's why reality TV and talk shows are so popular- and game shows, too. People like to watch and think, "I'm smarter than that moron!" (While they are still watching, and then running out to buy whatever's been advertised to them.) Morrissey thinks people aren't as dumb as the media give them credit for, but I disagree.

People have the potential to be smarter than they are, but they just don't go that far.

I also think he's harmed himself by not pandering to the system more. I think you could probably get him to agree to that, too. He could have been bigger, faster, and made lots more money. He could have come out, or claimed to be straight, married some movie star, done some movies and TV, collaborated with some really bad pop producers, sold his songs for ads, any number of things. Hell, he could reform the Smiths at any time for a big paycheck. He's not done any of those things. He might have been completely washed up by now, or he could be sitting in clover like Sting and U2- or vile Elton John. He's done things his own way- and I still think he's done right by himself.

What kind of famous would you like to be? Madonna famous? Sting famous? Bono famous? Or Morrissey famous? I'd take the smaller paycheck and the life that's a little closer to normal. Moz can probably go the grocery store by himself. I dont' think those others can.
 
That's the key difference, IMO. Although Morrissey has certainly produced some stellar music in his solo career, a lot of his recent work -- to my ears -- suffers from a tuneless quality.

It doesn't seem likely that he and Johnny M. will compose together any time soon, but how about bringing back Stephen Street?
What did Stephen Street ever do?
I mean apart from HairdresserOnFire, Suedehead, SisterI'maPoet, IKnowVerWellHowIGotMyName, EverydayIsLikeSunday, Disappointed, TheLastOfTheFamousInternationalPlayboys, WillNeverMarry, LateNightMaudlinStreet, LuckyLisp, etc.
Oh yeah!
 

dothewatusi

Member
Morrissey and Marr were perfect compliments for each other. Marr creating the guitar melodies which inspired Morrissey's lyrics/vocals. The two become one in a musical sense, weaving their talents together, creating brilliant songs. Suedehead and Everyday Is Like Sunday are strong solo songs because Morrissey was still in that Smiths grove.
 

Dave2006

Active Member
But why has Moz released so many of his mediocre solo songs as singles? ...... You're the one for me, etc.
...
Hey, slow down, Mister!

Don't be knocking "fatty". It's the only one that my girlfriend will dance to...it's our song.
Of course, everyone has "there is a light..." but only we have "fatty".
 

Dave2006

Active Member
Is your girlfriend fat?
Neither of us is particularly slim!!
I think we could both do with losing a stone....or two! But couldn't most of us?
 

pandora_cocteau

New Member
I think that Marr and Morrissey had "their" way of writing songs. It is almost like they had an unwritten rule of how they sound, and how they do the songs (that obviously does not mean they were unoriginal or too structured). It is very easy to spot a "Smiths" tune. The distinct sound, both vocally and instrumentally.
Morrissey's solo career is more versatile than the Smiths in a sense that he had so many (well, more than one) collaborators. His sound was influenced by more people and more people had say in what they did. So, within the first few seconds of the song, if you're not an indulgent listener like most people here, one cannot be quite sure WHO the artist of the song is until Morrissey starts to sing. And even later, his sound changed a lot and was never done following an established pattern.
 

PregnantForTheLastTime

Hideous trait.
The Marr sound was distinctive THEN- but would it still be now? We have a whole generation of musicians who grew up on the Smiths. Is Marr still creating songs and sounds that are new and distinctly his own? Or was it the combination of that guitar plus Moz' distinctive voice that attracted everyone?

When I first heard an Electronic song [without knowing who "Electronic" was], I said, "Oh, weird. It sounds like a cross between the Pet Shop Boys, New Order, and - The Smiths?" That's how distinct their sounds were then- 17 years ago! But those songs don't sound as timeless to me. I can't pick Marr out of Modest Mouse's sound. The Smiths songs still sound fresh to me. I hear lot of people on the radio who clearly grew up listening to all the same music I did, and it all sounds like a poor imitation, a mishmash of Smiths, Cure, New Order, Joy Division, Femmes, the Fall, and all the rest. I can't listen to Arcade Fire, for instance. The National sound like they are channeling Joy Division, or trying to.

Is this just a factor of getting older, when you've filled up all your favorites receptors and you only hear the repeats?
 
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