We revisit our definitive Smiths ranking as Morrissey celebrates his birthday on May 22nd.
Say what you will about internecine bad blood and the virtuous desire to keep the past in the past, but here’s the real reason we’ll never see Manchester legends The Smiths on stage together again: They’ve already accomplished everything they set out to do.
In just five short years, between 1982 and 1987, the foursome of Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke, and Mike Joyce produced 72 songs whose youthful angst, literary humor, and yearning nostalgia became the slim canon that helped define subsequent generations of little misfits.
On “Rubber Ring,” Morrissey wrote: “But don’t forget the songs/ That made you cry/ And the songs that saved your life.” On the following list, we pay these tracks an overdue visit; from the singles that defined their sound to the album tracks and B-sides that spread out with unexpected depth, we’ll unearth the hits and misses that made The Smiths the most singular band of the ’80s.
— Tyler Clark