Digitally remastered edition of this 1984 compilation from the legendary British quartet. Several months after releasing their first album, The Smiths issued this collection of singles and rarities, several of which are BBC versions of songs from their debut. The Smiths treated singles as individual entities, not just ways to promote an album, and therefore many of their finest songs were never issued on their studio albums. As if this wasn't enough, this compilation contains the first appearance of what may be the band's finest moment. "How Soon Is Now" captures encapsulates everything good about the Smiths; Morrissey's mocking lyrics, Marr's stunning vibrato guitar and a rhythm section you could set your watch to.
The Smiths tend to be thought of as a band one grows out of--music you listened to as a depressed adolescent and then abandoned when you overcame it all. Such a notion denies them their place in the rock pantheon, not only as an inspiration to countless indie-rock outfits but also as the band that challenged the received wisdom of rock & roll machismo. Fronted by the fey, sexually ambiguous Steven Patrick Morrissey, who married painfully honest lyrics--almost embarrassing in their self-effacement--with arch humor and a melancholic delivery, the British band was quite an anomaly to an America still emerging from the bloated-rock tyranny of the likes of Journey and REO Speedwagon. Hatful of Hollow
, released as an import in 1984 and domestically in 1993, is a collection of singles, many recorded live for various radio shows. More-muscular versions of most of the tracks here can be found on the collection Louder Than Bombs
, but Hatful
has a vitality to it that the studio-bound, somewhat antiseptic Bombs
lacks. Check out Johnny Marr's delicate acoustic guitar on the aching "Back to the Old House" or the band's looser workouts of such now-classics as "This Charming Man" and "Still Ill." Two songs not found on other albums make this a must for fans: "Handsome Devil" and "Accept Yourself," a bouncy, jangly number on which Morrissey croons convincingly, "Others conquered love, but I ran / I sat in my room and I drew up a plan." Perfect music for your awkward inner child. --Steve Landau