On First Listen
The Smiths

By: Mallory O’Donnell

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Posted 07/26/2006 - 04:53:52 AM by ESTEBAN_BUTTEZ:
 Hey guys, this article was pretty shithouse. Probably the nadir of Stylus' drawn-out downfall, and that's saying a fucking lot.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 06:06:39 AM by itsabouttime:
 "On the whole, however, the music of the early Smiths must have been a rather delightful tonic for those in the early 80's unwilling to barter with po-faced gloom, silly New Romanticism, or, you know, music made by black people." Oh I see. I like The Smiths because I'm racist. Thanks for the heads up Stylus...
Posted 07/26/2006 - 07:15:08 AM by red_arm1:
 "the eminently more enjoyable Electronic". All of Johnny Marrs projects since The Smiths have been wincingly bad; Electronic, The The, Johnny Marr and The Healers.... Also, someone who admits that guitar bands are not their forte, should maybe come across slightly less peremptory, considering that The Smiths were one of the greatest guitar bands ever
Posted 07/26/2006 - 07:18:31 AM by hendrik:
 "When all is said and done, the Smiths did nothing more than establish the playlist for the last third of Morrissey's solo concerts and provide a crack guitarist for the eminently more enjoyable Electronic." Oh absolutely...pretty much like what's-that-band's-name-again were only good for providing "Hey Jude" singalongs to close off Paul McCartney gigs....kudos for the bravery (/stupidity) of pointlessly slagging off a well-beloved band with all the credentials of a "On First Listen" article. Get a grip...
Posted 07/26/2006 - 07:48:38 AM by mrameche:
 "Oh, I just despise Morrissey's voice." Blah, blah. And to think that I was expecting a new angle on arguably the most important guitar band of the 80's. Suggesting that Marr's post-departure nonsense Electronic is more "enjoyable" than the Smiths reveals the author's obvious shortcomings when it comes to actually understanding the music itself. The notion that the Smiths were so appealing because their fans didn't like "music made by black people" is absurd and insulting. Sure, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but this article was so far off the mark, so blantantly unnecessary, that I'm left confused. This is easily the worst thing I've read on Stylus - get yourself in check, guys.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 09:48:09 AM by markrushton:
 A terrible analysis of a brilliant band. This piece is an embarrassment for Stylus Magazine.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 09:54:37 AM by torrmoz:
 And for christs sake, you could at least spell Morrissey's freaking name right.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:12:25 AM by d.a.boyfriend:
 Where exactly is his name spelled wrong? It is correctly spelled Stephen Patrick Morrissey everywhere I noticed, but maybe I'm missing it somewhere? That said, I disagree totally with this piece, but I also understand that the Smiths are not for everyone. Lighten up, people. If you're going to disagree, at least pick a point and don't just call the girl(guy?) names.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:16:35 AM by Richie_A:
 Listing things not to like about Morrissey is the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel.. has this article not been done a thousand times through the last two decades? You've ignored every reason why those who like The Smiths do like their music - the dry humour (misread as 'miserablism' by legions of bone-crushingly literal music journalists), the tunes, the fact that they were the antithesis of rock stars and stood up for a kind of provincialism in rock music.. and as somebody already pointed out, dropping in that thing implying that people must like a white indie band because they're somehow racist is desperately moronic.. I'm really starting to wonder why the hell I read Stylus.. sure these "controversial" iconoclaustic-type pieces are fun if done well but this one is just jaded.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:16:56 AM by NickSouthall:
 Mallory is indeed a gentleman. But not that gentle it seems! As for the opinions expressed within this piece, I remind people that they are those of the AUTHOR, not the PUBLISHER. Although I for one broadly agree.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:17:54 AM by NickSouthall:
 Also, anyone who decries The The is plainly talking nonsense.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:33:13 AM by ESTEBAN_BUTTEZ:
 Yeah but you're a dumb cunt, Southall.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:40:46 AM by NickSouthall:
 Thank you esteban. Could you in future please keep your terminology a little more child-friendly?
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:46:16 AM by ESTEBAN_BUTTEZ:
 I'll give it the old college try, but isn't having a banner advertisement for Primal Scream's latest cutting on the front page far more offensive?
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:49:07 AM by NickSouthall:
 Arguably, yes, but without it we'd have to ask you to pay for our bandwidth. Also I like the irony that I trashed that album on here.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:50:42 AM by fandango:
 I have plenty of issues with the *legacy* of this band myself (see: Arctic Monkeys) but... wilful (tedious) contrarianism + deaf and bland acceptance of well-worn cliches & dismissals + fucking winamp playlist listening session + very little, if any, effort made to really understand this incredibly odd, yet highly regarded band. (why? because people like Mozzer? Because it's the emo of the 80's? I think there's a *little* bit more to it than that) Poor effort. Not THE nadir of Stylus by a long shot, but it is the second piece of eye-rollingly tossed off & plain embarrasing writing THIS WEEK.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:58:58 AM by PeteGuy:
 Oh dear oh dear. I'm all for people having opinions. But Mallory O'Donnell really shouldn't be allowed to voice his. This is the single worst piece of music critique I've ever read.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 11:39:13 AM by axiomatic:
 basically, i agree with most of the (admittedly kneejerky) reactions against this article. it's lazy criticism at best, and contrarian-for-the-sake-of-iconoclasm (read: totally moronic). while i don't tend to think of stylus in an ever-spiralling decline (i mean, hell, i used to write for you guys, i like ya) this is definitely the biggest piece of shit article i have ever read regarding the smiths or, really, any band. to each their own, but sometimes your own should be kept to yourself.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 12:17:16 PM by Zarklephaser:
 Considering all the deep thought and reflection that must have been put into your Smiths critique here, Mallory, I am really looking forward to your On First Listen article on the '80s U2 stuff.

And by deep thought and reflection, I mean lubricant and tissue.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 12:38:09 PM by d.a.boyfriend:
 "fucking winamp playlist listening session"? Actually, I think that is a pretty comprehensive playlist, considering that he (thanks Nick!) had never heard the band before. How much did you expect him to listen to? Asking for the whole catalog is a bit much, and this was a better ranging set of tunes than any commercially available collection. It looks like a damn fine comp to me! Includes all of the singles, key album cuts, etc.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 12:48:12 PM by Cacophony:
 these critiques couldn't be more wrong. mallory and nick are spot on. you all just need to realize that the smiths are the soundtrack to klan rallies and embrace is the greatest band to ever exist.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 12:57:21 PM by fandango:
 "Still, there's a reason why The Queen is Dead is accounted their one true masterpiece" But did he even listen to it? I disagree that this is a better introduction format than say The first album, the second album and maybe a odds + sods collection "Louder Than Bombs" perhaps, to assess the late material. For me it misses some/most of those little moments where they would branch out from the overwhelming MOZ persona and explore more serious territory, like "Suffer Little Children" or "This Night Has Opened My Eyes", or even lighten up a bit like on "Stretch Out And Wait" ("Ask" is on there though which is good). It has range sure, in a Now! Smiths kind of way, but it doesn't give as good an idea of their breadth as the albums or their own collections do IMO.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 01:04:49 PM by fandango:
 Whether anyone believes me in 2006 there *is* a qualitative difference between the light & shade you can get from listening to a good album and the overbearing bang-bang-bang of an ALL HITS & STRONG STUFF musical parade like this. I think I'd find those discs quite heavy going myself frankly (...no ;) ), and I'm pretty familiar with it all already.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 01:33:17 PM by d.a.boyfriend:
 Not sure how old you are, fandango, but I am old enough to remember the Smiths as a singles band, first and foremost, and I think a collection of those shows more to represent the band's sound than the first two albums for sure. And to use Louder Than Bombs to cover the later days is a fantastically lazy move. Half of that album is EARLY material, and it doesn't include anything at all from Strangeways either. Again, there are plenty of album cuts on Mallory's list. Maybe not the ones YOU would have chosen, but objectively speaking, this is pretty representative of the band's output.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 01:45:21 PM by glamtart:
 Since the question was asked way up the page, Morrissey's first name is spelled "Steven," not "Stephen." That's where the misspelling occurred in the article. Hmmm... makes me sound like a total fangirl (which admittedly I am), but it's pretty easy to remember the spelling because he sings it in "Ouija Board, Ouija Board."
Posted 07/26/2006 - 03:23:25 PM by fandango:
 fwiw I meant "The Queen Is Dead" (which somehow came out as the second album?? whoops. I didn't mean "Hatful Of Hollow" or "Meat Is Murder" either). I am aware (and almost old enough, even if my adolescence came in the early '90s) there's a very strong argument to be made that The Smiths were as much of a singles band as anything else (see the non-album collections which hardly pale next to the other records), and amazingly consistent with what they released but I still think "album cuts" is a poor substitute for the real thing in it's proper context here. I haven't listened to them in SO long now mind you, and I'm probably getting "The World Won't Listen" mixed up with the comp. which I suggested (LTB was the US collection that ended up being sold here no?) but no, it's not the songs I would have chosen to introduce a predjudiced newbie with especially, because it leans a little too heavily towards the bombastic side of things.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 03:45:30 PM by downloadsofist:
 On the whole, however, the music of the early Smiths must have been a rather delightful tonic for those in the early 80's unwilling to barter with po-faced gloom, silly New Romanticism, or, you know, music made by black people. -- What's your take on "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah"?
Posted 07/26/2006 - 05:04:46 PM by wmurch3:
 I'm more outraged that someone is talking shit about The The. For the record, The The are not a Marr "side project". While I was into the Smiths heavily for about a year, I very rarely revisit any of their albums. The The, however, have been on heavy rotation for since I was a freshman in college (that's about 8 years). Sorry, it makes me a little angry when people just dismiss such a great band like red_arm1 did.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 07:53:40 PM by kingsleyzissou:
 I love it when a sacred cow is slaughtered for its tasty tasty meat by a Stylus writer, and a series of douchebags get all panicked and use words like "nadir" to describe what has happened to Stylus. I think every week should feature at least one "On Second Thought" or "On First Listen" that has a band/artist from the canon eviscerated.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 10:29:38 PM by Hone_Heke:
 The tide slowly turns doesn`t it. So adding to kingsleyzissou`s suggestion, I think it`s worth pointing out that the article is called "on_first_listen" & so what we get here is an honest piece of writing despite how much shit it might throw in the landfill. I respect this piece because I might have written a load of codswallop just like it myself on first listen to the Smiths. Instead the thing to celebrate here is the Malllory is destined to become a Smiths addict before the years out.
Posted 07/26/2006 - 11:09:34 PM by wmdavidson:
 This is the second Stylus article this year to suggest that Smiths fans are racists. Is there something behind this or is it just the best insult you guys can come up with for people who don't like the same bands you do?
Posted 07/27/2006 - 01:52:20 AM by olaolu:
 Who's saying that The Smiths fans are racist? It's just suggesting that most of the group's fans tend to not be as into traditionally black music be it hip hop, soul, or what have you. I can't speak for the entire fanbase but this assertion definitely holds true on my campus. Some people are way too defensive about their favorite bands.
Posted 07/27/2006 - 07:16:17 AM by red_arm1:
  wmurch3, I didn't state The The as a Marr 'side' project, I just said 'project'and I'm well aware that they were already an established band. However, to your credit, I have revisited 'Mind Bomb' for the first time in 5/6 years and guess what? Its fucking good! On the other hand, Dusk is mediocre.
Posted 07/27/2006 - 07:43:07 AM by itsabouttime:
 olaolu, it says that Smiths fans are unwilling to even try to listen to music by black people. That's pretty much calling them racist. To be honest the statement itself pisses me off, but I wouldn't be so bothered if it wasn't for the snotty little "oooh look at my writing style. I am tossing off truths that you secretly knew but it took my genius to reveal to you" 'y'know' in the middle of the sentence. And I'm not being overly defensive about my favourite band, because The Smiths are far from that. I'm being overly defensive about the implication that I'm a racist.
Posted 07/27/2006 - 09:50:11 AM by markrushton:
 When the first Smiths singles and album came out in the US in 1983, I played them on my radio show. I don't recall anybody feeling it was a "delightful tonic for those in the early 80s unwilling to barter with ... music made by black people." Back then it was a delightful tonic for those unwilling to barter with what was being pushed on White Bread Rock Radio and (non-black-playing-at-the-time) MTV. You know what I'm talking about: Journey, Foreigner, Lionel Ritchie, and all that Flashdance stuff. If anything, fans of bands like The Smiths were willing to be a lot more open-minded because they were into a melodic, guitar-based band that didn't "rawk out" with solos and had a lead singer of possibly non-heterosexual orientation who wasn't hiding it at the time (Judas Priest's Rob Halford) much less evading the issue (Queen's Freddie Mercury). Producing evidence that the Smiths were actually played on the radio at one time beside such acts as George Clinton, Bad Brains, Run-DMC, Bob Marley, and Black Uhuru might be overkill, but it can be done.
Posted 07/27/2006 - 12:47:21 PM by :
 The above mentioned mistake in Morrissey's name has been corrected on 07/27/2006. Stylus regrets the error.
Posted 07/27/2006 - 01:43:54 PM by boilingboy:
 Thanks, markrushton, for adding some much needed perspective on the context for which the Smiths existed in the 80s. Most 80s music revivalists are too young to remember that American radio completely ignored alternative music back then. Anything that made it to rawk stations was a miracle. I don't think it ever happened outside of U2 and REM. On the other hand, what made theMorrisey bearable was his hilarious, taking-the-piss lyrics. He didn't take himself so seriousely, and neither should his fans. Though I am dismayed at the usual outraged tears from Morrisey's bedsitter worshipers, it is rather ridiculous that Stylus would have someone who doesn't appreciate guitar bands be the one to review the Smiths. By the way, why does every Stylus writer constantly refer to his/her self in almost every article? The narcissicm is astounding.
Posted 07/29/2006 - 02:03:38 AM by ESTEBAN_BUTTEZ:
 This cretin known as "kingsleyzissou" is a worthless wannabe hipster and the truth he is not but a little "noob". You're gonna have do to better than calling people "douches", Sonny Jim.
Posted 07/29/2006 - 08:42:35 PM by kingsleyzissou:
 You're right, ESTABAN_BUTTEZ: "douchebags" was inappropriate. Replace that in my post with "worthless wannabe hipster", and we're all square.
Posted 07/30/2006 - 02:35:09 AM by ESTEBAN_BUTTEZ:
 Nigga plz. Go back to your blog, kingsleyzissou...maybe someone will read you there...maybe...
Posted 08/03/2006 - 02:14:16 PM by Charlie:
 Mallory O Donnell, you are a wanker not Morrissey, the Smiths were simply the greatest band ever. Every sensible child knows what I mean.
Posted 08/15/2006 - 01:19:47 PM by proffokker:
 I'm sorry, but isn't Lionel Ritchie black? Or is he just not black enough for some of you? (And ditto Hone_Heke.)