The Smiths A-Z: "Ask"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member






Our second track in the Smiths A-Z project is this song, released as a standalone single in October 1986 and reaching #14 on the UK singles chart. "Ask" was also included on the compilation albums Louder Than Bombs and The World Won't Listen, as well as being featured on the Rank live album.

The song was played live by the Smiths 18 times, all in 1986.

What do we think?
 

Nikita

Senior Member
I really wonder what the fans here think about it as I was never really into it and I consider it to probably be their weakest single, especially with Golden Lights as a B side. It is a nice song, but a B side in their standards.
 

CJM

Practising troublemaker
I don’t know why, but this has always been one of my least favourite songs by The Smiths. It ticks all the boxes, does everything it should in all the right places, but something just doesn’t hoist the song higher for me. Of course, by saying that this is (in my opinion) a lesser song by The Smiths still means that it is one of the greatest songs of all time, so it is swings and roundabouts! Perhaps, being sandwiched as a single between Panic and Shoplifters of the World Unite, and having Cemetery Gates (got it already!) and Golden Lights as the B-Sides I was left wanting more. (And oh, the sickening greed…)
 

Ben Budd

Well-Known Member
When I first got into the smiths as a dickhead 15 year old, I loved this song. Catchy as anything. Can't say it is one I seek out now, though, just too lightweight.

I love the live version on Rank, still. Also, Morrissey's solo version is very good and captures that same energy. Fair play to his band.
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
When I first got into the smiths as a dickhead 15 year old, I loved this song. Catchy as anything. Can't say it is one I seek out now, though, just too lightweight.

I love the live version on Rank, still. Also, Morrissey's solo version is very good and captures that same energy. Fair play to his band.
It seems like you and me are cut from the same cloth...even down to being a dickhead at 15 (hmmm can't say I've changed too much).

The (awful) band I was in at school used to cover this as it was the only Smith's song we could play...which says a lot, I guess.

Hats off to BookishBoy for looking after this thread. I loved the Moz A-Z and am looking forward to seeing what nuggets this one throws up.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
I remember being sooo disappointed when I bought this, got home and played it for the first time - it just felt so lightweight, as @Ben Budd mentioned above. As a catchy little pop single, it's excellent, but as a Smiths song I don't think it's anywhere near their best. Great guitar work from Marr, though. (And Gannon, if you choose to believe him.)

Also, it never seemed to fit with Morrissey's persona, to me. I don't really believe Morrissey when he sings "If there's something you'd like to try, ask me..." whereas I do totally believe him when he sings about life being a pigsty, etc...
 

CrazyFaceGenes

Active Member
I really liked it at the time and still do, Morrissey being cheeky trying to get some action via a charitable act, it's funny and sweet.
Or you can take it at face value and Morrissey is being noble or something, either way it's cool.
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
I remember being sooo disappointed when I bought this, got home and played it for the first time - it just felt so lightweight, as @Ben Budd mentioned above. As a catchy little pop single, it's excellent, but as a Smiths song I don't think it's anywhere near their best. Great guitar work from Marr, though. (And Gannon, if you choose to believe him.)

Also, it never seemed to fit with Morrissey's persona, to me. I don't really believe Morrissey when he sings "If there's something you'd like to try, ask me..." whereas I do totally believe him when he sings about life being a pigsty, etc...
As light as a cobweb. Isn't there a rumour that they put together a much 'fuller' version of the song, which was turned down for release? The suits (and Moz, I presume) wanted an international hit...not another 'TJiFA'. The live version surpasses the studio version hands down.
 
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Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Twee as f*** and not a song I ever actively seek out, but still catchy as hell and really quite sweet. Hats off mainly to Marr.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
A high quality pop song and an interesting change of direction after Panic.

It's a shame that John Porter never got to complete his mix of the song, so we will never know exactly how it was intended to sound. I think that has more to do with Steve Lillywhite being Morrissey's man than anything else, though.

Not Morrissey at his most profound lyrically, but still some memorable lines to savour.


Just to show other viewpoints and not because they should be considered in any way definitive...

In the poll on this board this song ranked 44th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 12th from 73 of the group's songs.
 

Carlislebaz

Cock of the north
A great single at the time of release The Smiths we’re flying high and all was well.
Also remember this song getting plenty of air play as well.

A Great song
 

Surface

Chilling in Cheshire.
First heard this at The GMEX gig, really enjoyed it live but not so much as a single. Might have been due to Craig Gannon playing 2nd guitar as it sounded really powerful live and not so much when released.
 

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
It’s a great pop song that lets Moz show off his frivolous side once more, with some suitably tongue twisting lyrics paired with the forward jangle assault of marr’s guitar and the characteristically muscular rhythm section. Yes, it’s light fun, but the powerful drum breakdowns still have an essence of the more substantial tracks that made up a significant proportion of the band’s output. Has it been overplayed? Probably. Would I still sing along to “buck toothed girl in Luxembourg” and “if it’s not Love then it’s the bomb that will bring us together” every time? Abso-f***ing-lutely.
8/10
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
From Melody Maker's review of the single:

ask.jpg
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
A fantastic pop song. Sometimes you want an antidote to the heavy, intense Smiths epics and this captures the Moz/Marr dynamic so perfectly - a melody of pure sunshine and lyrics about being an anxious, housebound mess dreaming of love. Pure Smiths.
 
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