Already voices were loudly proclaiming The Smiths as a one trick pony, even with ‘How Soon Is Now’ being quite patently different from anything else they’d done. Johnny set about creating a whole load of new guitar sounds and styles and really expanded his playing here. He is the star of the show. The record lacks great production values again, surprisingly sounding worse than parts of the half studio/half sessions ‘Hatful Of Hollow’. Still. We do have ‘Headmaster Ritual’. It rolls along. Morrisseys voice with added echo sounds chilling in support of the lyrics. ‘Spineless, bastards all’. And, my favourite of the lot ‘please excuse me from gym, i’ve got a terrible cold coming on’. Now, these are lyrics 🙂 ‘Rusholme Ruffians’ musically is a sheer rockabilly delight! Rockabilly! Didn’t I tell you Johnny was expanding and experimenting with his playing? I did, yes! The lyrics aren’t fantastic this time, so just listen to the music. Its enough. Its fantastic stuff. And! We have ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’. Look, this album has a brilliant opening, what can I say?
Hmmm. But, what’s this? Signs that The Smiths were human after all? ‘What She Said’ would be fine if it were not for the production which pretty much obliterates Johnnys guitar lines. You’ve got to really focus on them, straining your ears to make them out at all. ‘Barbarism Begins At Home’ does have a funky groove ( funky! yes! ) but also, it really is far too long at just under seven minutes going round and round and round. The closing ‘Meat Is Murder’ is self explanatory. Morrissey makes his point over a six minute long track that sounds beautifully haunting in places but once again, its too long. It repeats itself uneccessarily from a musical point of view. The vocal may make you cry though. ‘Nowhere Fast’ is carried by its opening lyric. ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’ sounds great, far better production wise than anything else here but didn’t make a great single. Those opening guitar lines are so damn beautiful though. I have of course saved the best til last. ‘Well I Wonder’ is just…..makes me cry, makes me smile, sends a chill all up and down my spine. The guitar and bass are both great. Morrissey sounds in fine, affecting voice. A hugely underrated Smiths gem. Its the highlight of the album for me. Given the lesser moments, its just as well ‘Well I Wonder’ is here at all. That, together with the opening three songs make the core of this for me, and ensure a strong album despite its few weak moments.