Yui Mok / AP file
Morrissey performs in Manchester, England, in 2004.
Smiths fans, be happy. And sad. A ton of remastered songs from the 1980s "mope rock" favorites are coming your way.
Rhino Records’ April 3 re-release of The Smiths catalog is sure to evoke mixed emotions among fans: first, elation that the catalog was recently remastered by guitarist Johnny Marr, and second, an overwhelming sense of melancholy upon hearing Morrissey’s pained vocals and woeful melodies again.
All of that, of course, was what made The Smiths unique back in the day and eventually turned them into legends, despite the fact that they never made much of an impression on the American charts. They were, however, highly influential. By going against the grain and producing gloomy guitar rock in the days when escapist synth pop ruled, the band helped set the stage for alternative rock. They’re also credited with helping to start Britpop, since the group made sure to mix its mope with a healthy dose of melody in many of its singles (“This Charming Man,” “William, It Was Really Nothing”).
The Smiths released four studio albums from 1984 to 1987. All of them are part of the re-release package, along with the live album “Rank” and the three collections of singles, B-sides and BBC sessions that once emanated from countless dorm rooms: “Hatful of Hollow,” “Louder Than Bombs” and “The World Won’t Listen.” If you’ve tried to find fresh copies of these albums but couldn’t it’s because several have gone out of print and “The World Won’t Listen” hasn’t even gotten an official U.S. CD release until now.
But be forewarned before taking this nostalgia trip. If you thought tracks like “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” “How Soon is Now,” or “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” came off as melancholy back in the Reagan Era, they’re a whole lot more wistful now that the once-trendy band -- and its core audience -- are both a quarter of a century older.
Talk about a reason to mope.
Check out a few Smiths classics below. And pick your head up and get over to Facebook to discuss the band.