As promised, here are the best of the capsule reviews of the new Smiths box set from Facebook and Twitter and CB regulars.
1. The Holy Trinity
The Smiths are the last member of the holy trinity of English rock music. First there came The Beatles, then came The Jam, and lo, then came The Smiths. This holy trinity exists because in the eyes of true believers they represent something approaching perfection. The same group members played on all the songs, and the band themselves split before doing anything even remotely rubbish. The Smiths came of age in an era of self-consciously literate music criticism, and as such are even harder to approach than their holy predecessors. Harder in the sense of coming to them without preconceived ideas. People go out of their way to talk about how much they hate The Beatles, but not The Smiths. Granted, many people hate Morrissey, but The Smiths are generally given an easy ride. As such their back catalogue seems to exist in some kind of hermetically sealed jar. All ideas and emotions surrounding them have been expressed and approved. I’ll hold my hands up and say I find the majority of The Smiths back catalogue to be all but faultless, but I never feel like listening to them. I get more from Morrissey’s solo albums. If you’re thinking about buying the box set it’s because you know and love the music already, so it’s just a pointless luxury. If you’re a newcomer, buy the individual albums instead just to see if you can approach this iconic band on your own terms, in your own time. Better still, buy Your Arsenal. You can’t go wrong with that album.
2. I never bought a Smiths record
I never bought a Smiths record. Not one. I didn’t own a cardigan either. Perhaps I was a bit late to the game, perhaps the burning need to own just wasn’t there. I loved the songs, would whirl around dance floors to ‘Oscillate Wildly’ or ‘Panic‘ or ‘How Soon Is Now?’. Would do so still. Every one of them, single after single, a perfectly crystallised gem of wry amusement and bitterness and zinging guitars; there was considerable joy in savouring the delightfully articulated experience of a fellow miserabilist (a very different beast from a miserable git). But dancing to them, seeing them on TV (an occasion back then, to see a band one liked on TV and The Smiths’ TOTP moment was thrilling), hearing them played by Peel, sufficed somehow.
So this re-mastered box set has piqued my interest. It has them all. It sounds wonderful. It’s good value. It looks nice. I ought to own this thing. But what would it be for? Really, the only use I can think of would be as a Christmas present for my teenage daughter and there’s something a bit dodgy about a parent bestowing angst and alienation upon their child. There’s no need for it. There’s no need for Morrissey these days either, dimmed as he is by age and out-of-joint-ness and the nasty tang of racism. So, bah, off you go, Smiths Box Set: delight some other nostalgia-blurred fucker, not me.
3. Cabbage farts
The Smiths (the band), reviewed in love: I’m a shy, bisexual geek girl who grew up in Lancashire and loves The Shangri-Las. Of course I’m a Smiths fan. If you dissected me you’d find blood and bone and Smiths lyrics floating under my skin. No matter how enormous a penis Morrissey acts, this band still remain important to me. I even quoted them the night I lost my virginity (“It’s the Eskimo blood in my veins”). This is what I think of the deluxe £250 Smiths boxset:
Reviewed in Smiths song titles: Paint A Vulgar Picture. Money Changes Everything. Unlovable.
Reviewed in vegetables: Big turnip. Small turnip. Medium-sized turnip. Cabbage fart.
Reviewed in racists (and cereal): Flecks of lukewarm porridge dripping from Enoch Powell’s chin. Pauline Hanson vomits semolina.
Reviewed in synonyms for sadness: Joylessness. Dolour. Ennui. Lugubriosity. Dysphoria. Bummer.
Reviewed in hypocrites: Nick Clegg.
Who will buy this box set? David Cameron. David Cameron. David fucking Cameron.