The Smiths (album)

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The Smiths
The Smiths The Smiths.jpg
Studio album by The Smiths
Released 20 February 1984 (1984-02-20)
Recorded Winter, 1983
Length 45:36
Producer John Porter
The Smiths chronology
The Smiths
Hatful of Hollow
(1984)Hatful of Hollow1984
Singles from The Smiths
  1. "What Difference Does It Make?"
    Released: 16 January 1984

The Smiths is the debut studio album by English rock band the Smiths, recorded in 1983 and released on 20 February 1984 by record label Rough Trade. After the original production by Troy Tate was felt to be inadequate, John Porter re-recorded the album in London, Manchester and Stockport during breaks in the band's UK tour during September 1983.

The album was well received by the critics as well as the public; it reached number two on the UK Albums Chart and stayed on the chart for 33 weeks. It established the Smiths as a prominent band in the 1980s music scene in the United Kingdom.


After signing with independent record label Rough Trade, the Smiths began preparations to record their first album in mid 1983. Due to the suggestion of Rough Trade head Geoff Travis, the band selected Troy Tate (former guitarist of The Teardrop Explodes) as producer for sessions at Elephant studios in Wapping.[4] During the following month the group recorded fourteen songs.[5]

While recording a BBC session for Dave Jensen in August 1983, the Smiths met producer John Porter. Travis, harbouring reservations about the group's session with Troy Tate, gave Porter a cassette of the sessions beforehand in the hopes that he could remix them. Porter told Travis that the sessions were "out of tune and out of time". Feeling the Tate sessions were unsalvageable, Porter offered to re-record the album himself. Despite praising the work with Tate only a week prior to the press by stating "we've done everything exactly right and it'll show", Smiths singer Morrissey accepted (as did Travis), while guitarist Johnny Marr hesitantly agreed.[5]

The Smiths began work with Porter in September 1983. Due to tour commitments, the band had to make the record in a piecemeal fashion. Recording started at London's Matrix Studios, with the majority of the work undertaken during a week's stay at Pluto, just outside Manchester. A final overdub session was performed at Eden Studios in London that November.[6] After listening to a finished mix of the album the following month, Morrissey told Porter and Travis that the album "wasn't good enough". However, the singer said that due to the album's cost of 6,000 pounds, "[they said] it has to be released, there's no going back".[7]

Artwork and packaging[edit]

The sleeve for The Smiths was designed by Morrissey. It features American actor Joe Dallesandro in a cropped still from Andy Warhol's 1968 film Flesh. The photograph of Morrissey on the original card inner sleeve was taken at an early London concert by Romi Mori, who would subsequently play bass guitar for The Gun Club.


The single "What Difference Does It Make?" was released in January 1984, reaching number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.[8]


The album was released on 20 February 1984, and debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart.[7]

"This Charming Man" was included as the sixth track on all original US releases of the album on Sire Records (LP, CD and cassette) and on the UK cassette on Rough Trade. Since 1992, when WEA acquired the Smiths' catalogue, nearly all reissues worldwide also include this song, with the exceptions being a 2009 vinyl reissue on Rhino Records in both the USA and the UK and the 2011 vinyl version box set collecting the Smiths albums titled "Complete".


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[9]
Billboard4.5/5 stars[10]
Blender4/5 stars[11]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[12]
Q4/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[16]
Uncut4/5 stars[17]
The Village VoiceB−[18]

The music critic Garry Mulholland included it in his list of the 261 greatest albums since 1976 in Fear of Music: "The Smiths made safe their early legend with a debut album about child abuse. The production was flat and dour, yet it succeeded in conjuring yet another Manchester-in-song, distinctly different from that of Ian Curtis and Mark E. Smith. But everything about The Smiths ran contrary to mid-80s pop, from Joe Dallesandro on the cover to the restrained jangling of the songs, but mainly through Moz's [Morrissey's nickname] dramatised disgust at sex, which here exists to ruin true love at best, and to ruin an entire young life at worst."[19]

Slant Magazine listed the album at 51 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" saying "There's no reason why a mordant, sexually frustrated disciple of Oscar Wilde who loved punk but crooned like a malfunctioning Sinatra should've teamed up with a fabulously inventive guitarist whose influences were so diffuse that it could be hard to hear them at all and formed one of the greatest songwriting duos of the '80s."[20]

In 1989, the album was ranked number 22 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s.[21] In 2003, the album was ranked number 481 on that magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[22] The album ranked at 473 on an updated list by the magazine in 2012. The album was ranked number 51 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time.[23] It placed at number 73 in The Guardian's list "100 Best Albums Ever" in 1997.[24]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Morrissey; all music composed by Johnny Marr.

Side A
1."Reel Around the Fountain"5:58
2."You've Got Everything Now"3:59
3."Miserable Lie"4:29
4."Pretty Girls Make Graves"3:44
5."The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" (quotation from "Sonny Boy" by Ray Henderson, Lew Brown and Al Jolson)4:38
Side B
6."Still Ill"3:23
7."Hand in Glove"3:25
8."What Difference Does It Make?"3:51
9."I Don't Owe You Anything"4:05
10."Suffer Little Children"5:28




Year Chart Peak
1984 UK Albums Chart 2[26]


  1. ^ Makowsky, Jennifer (August 27, 2014). "12 Essential Alternative Rock Albums from the 1980s". PopMatters. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Blender's 100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever". Stereogum. SpinMedia. 14 November 2007. Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Jackson, Josh (13 July 2016). "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums". Paste. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  4. ^ Goddard, p. 34.
  5. ^ a b Goddard, p. 35.
  6. ^ Goddard, p. 46.
  7. ^ a b Goddard, p. 87.
  8. ^ Goddard, p. 81.
  9. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Smiths – The Smiths". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Payne, Chris (20 February 2014). "'The Smiths' at 30: Classic Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  11. ^ Power, Tony (15 September 2004). "The Smiths: The Smiths". Blender. Archived from the original on 30 June 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  12. ^ Kot, Greg (7 July 1991). "The Smiths And Solo". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  13. ^ Wolk, Douglas (18 November 2011). "The Smiths: The Smiths Complete". Pitchfork. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  14. ^ "The Smiths: The Smiths". Q (87): 139. December 1993. 
  15. ^ Loder, Kurt (21 June 1984). "The Smiths". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  16. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "The Smiths". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 753–54. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  17. ^ Dalton, Stephen (1998). "The Smiths: The Smiths". Uncut. 
  18. ^ Christgau, Robert (29 May 1984). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  19. ^ Garry Mulholland, Fear of Music, p.164 ISBN 0-7528-6831-4
  20. ^ The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s Archived 14 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^, retrieved 16 October 2011, 20:52 BST
  22. ^ Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Wenner Media. 2005. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-932958-61-4. 
  23. ^ "100 Best Debut Albums Ever". 
  24. ^ "The Guardian 100 Best Albums Ever List, 1997". Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  25. ^ Cavanagh, D, 1993. Irreproachable: The Smiths: the very best of British?. Q Magazine, 1 December 1993.
  26. ^ Roberts, David. British Hit Singles and Albums. Guinness World Records Limited. 

Works cited

  • Goddard, Simon (2003). The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life. Reynolds & Hern Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-47-1. 

External links[edit]