Back in 1984, when Culture Club, Wham!, and Duran Duran dominated the charts and airwaves, a group of four young Englishmen called the Smiths released their debut on the indie label Rough Trade. Although they recorded only four non-compilation studio albums, this Manchester-based quartet would be remembered as one of the most influential pop bands of all time. "The Smiths" is a smashing debut of a classic that was so unique in its flavor and form, that it really couldn't be compared to anything else. The recipe for the group's success was--in addition to John Porter's raw production--its clever and original songwriting. Singer Morrissey's sensitive and thoughtful lyrics and guitarist Johnny Marr's intricate melodies highlighted key tracks such as the opener "Reel Around the Fountain," the catchy "This Charming Man," and the ever-haunting "Hand in Glove." What's more, Morrissey's lyrics tackled some unconventional topics few pop stars in 1984 would bother to broach, from child abuse to homosexuality. "The Smiths" debuted at Number Two on the UK charts upon release, and while it never duplicated the same success stateside, it has quickly gained popularity as an underground classic. Two years later, the band would outdo themselves on their 1986 masterpiece "The Queen Is Dead" before disbanding the following year. Both that album, as well as this stunner of a debut, come highly recommended.