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Adam Buxton interviews Johnny Marr of The Smiths

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  • Adam Buxton interviews Johnny Marr of The Smiths

    Entertaining listening. Used to love the Smiths when I was a nipper.
    https://soundcloud.com/adam-buxton/ep51-johnny-marr
    http://adam-buxton.co.uk/ad/2017/10/...1-johnny-marr/
    "White paper inner sleeve is pristine ..."

  • #2
    No time for The Smiths at all. I have a complete blind spot as far as they are concerned. I presume there's something there but it's invisible to me. I don't know anybody who likes The Smiths, mind. If I did then maybe they'd have been able to explain the appeal.
    "You don't want to kill the cash donkey"

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    • #3
      The likes of the NME have overrated them but I like them. The Peel session Still Ill perfectly captures their appeal for me. Memorable turns of phrase, melancholy, catchy and brilliant guitar riff and a tight as fuck rhythm section.

      Morrissey is an unfathomable twat though.

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      • #4
        Went to see them in the upstairs room at the Fighting Cocks in Mosely, Birmingham around the time Hand in Glove came out. It must have been a good gig because I bought the 7" on the night. I find it difficult to put into words what I like about music, but in the Smiths' case, Marr's guitar, Morrissey's words. Songs with lyrics that weren't I love you, but a bit more thoughtful. Pop music with a little bit extra ...

        Haven't listened to them for a long time now though ... too busy listening to new stuff ...
        "White paper inner sleeve is pristine ..."

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        • #5
          Too rockist then (for me it was either 'New Thing' Jazz or completely vacuous pop). A fave though of my life partner/ significant other. So now it is a matter of overexposure.

          I came to like them more as I became familiar with Marr's guitar work; I remember, for example, suddenly hearing the influence of African guitar in one of the tracks.

          The lyrics are hit and miss. But often very good. Ditto vocals.

          I should put together a 'best of' CD for the car. Not for myself, you understand.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Shere Khan View Post
            No time for The Smiths at all. I have a complete blind spot as far as they are concerned. I presume there's something there but it's invisible to me. I don't know anybody who likes The Smiths, mind. If I did then maybe they'd have been able to explain the appeal.
            How's about a Smiths cover version SK?



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            • #7
              Originally posted by Grim Lounge Cowboy View Post
              Too rockist then...
              Ironically one of Marr's motivations behind The Smiths sound was a desire to avoid 'rockism' .... i.e. standard three chord riff-based guitar rock.
              They certainly achieved that and have a singular sound that no-one else came close to. I'm not a huge fan but accept their importance in the scheme of things and they are emblematic of how certain factors can lead to a burst of creativity that can only last for four or five years. Both Morrissey and Marr's solo careers have been fairly dismal in comparison - so obviously some people were destined to be part of a partnership rather than hitting solo gold!!??
              "Here comes the Fun Cooker!!"

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Slim Jim View Post

                Ironically one of Marr's motivations behind The Smiths sound was a desire to avoid 'rockism' .... i.e. standard three chord riff-based guitar rock.
                They certainly achieved that and have a singular sound that no-one else came close to. I'm not a huge fan but accept their importance in the scheme of things and they are emblematic of how certain factors can lead to a burst of creativity that can only last for four or five years. Both Morrissey and Marr's solo careers have been fairly dismal in comparison - so obviously some people were destined to be part of a partnership rather than hitting solo gold!!??
                I don't mind that until the guitar arrives. At that point it begins sounding a bit Johnny Marrish, and I think it may be his guitar sound that puts me off- although he probably didn't sound like that all the time. As I say, it's a bit of a blind spot because there is obviously something there but I just can't see it. I think that when the Smiths started out, although it had been a few years previously, I was still mourning the loss of Josef K. At the time (and still to this day) I was looking for a pair of guitars that sounded like chainsaws. The Smiths should have appealed to me because at heart 'Pop' Music is my thing but they simply weren't able to fill the void left by the squealing Fender Jaguars of Josef K. They also had a clanky, but solid rhythm section.
                "You don't want to kill the cash donkey"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Grim Lounge Cowboy View Post
                  Too rockist then
                  The Smiths - rockist ?

                  Tiresome - yes.
                  Maudlin - certainly.
                  But rockist?
                  I don't see it.

                  Wikipedia says "Rockism is the belief in the superiority of certain rock music values, which often results in discrimination and prejudice against other forms of popular music. A "rockist" may also be someone who regards rock music as the normative state of popular music."



                  for me it was either 'New Thing' Jazz or completely vacuous pop.
                  For me it's either completely vacuous jazz - or death.
                  Dave Lee Roth, I Too Am Running With This Devil Of Which You Speak (sic)

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                  • #10
                    Harry Hill always does a good Morrissey cover

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                    • #11
                      I don't think they were rockist. I think they did come to represent a kind of insular inward-looking security.
                      I still read the NME back then, when Ian Pye and Stuart Cosgrove tried to push it towards a more dance/hip-hop direction. It was a minor culture war, and that's what "Hang the DJ" was a direct reference to. In truth, it could be a bit embarrassing*, but it was also a lot more exciting than what followed afterwards, when "indie" actually started to become a definable genre and style post C86. The Smiths were some kind of figurehead for that in a way that, say, The Fall never were.
                      I liked the Smiths for while, but the meat 'n' spuds bass & drums soon got boring and I never listen to them now.


                      *"Yo-boys"
                      Click image for larger version

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                      Vardy.....¡¡¡PELIGRO!!!

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                      • #12
                        Sure. 'Rockist' was just the missile term I would have used than. That having heard "What Difference Does It Make" (which was great) and the odd other track from the first album (....o.k.).

                        "Meat 'n' spuds bass & drums" is closer to the mark.

                        Is "rockist" still in general use (assuming for a moment that it ever was)?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Grim Lounge Cowboy View Post

                          Is "rockist" still in general use (assuming for a moment that it ever was)?
                          Not sure, but the Wikipedia entry on it and "poptimism"??? is instructive and entertaining.
                          I especially like Paul Morley's third point towards defining it:
                          • "c) how rock groups hold their guitars and what they do with their legs as they hold their guitars"

                          Vardy.....¡¡¡PELIGRO!!!

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                          • #14
                            I don't remember 'rockist' being in common usage at the time (1981 onwards) (probably cos Pete Wylie coined it and who could take him seriously? ) though I didn't read NME all that often, I read Sounds. It popped up much more regularly in later years. That wikipedia entry is entertaining, I agree, and it also illustrates how the definition of 'rockism' is constantly shifting, depending on your point of view.

                            If The Smiths could be accused of rockism, perhaps it was for defending their appearance in the pages of magazines like Smash Hits as an attempt to bring some 'authenticity' to pop. Can of worms, perhaps best avoided.

                            I never really understood the appeal of The Smiths, I didn't dislike them but I coudn't understand the worship in the press. I saw them once ('83 or '84), got a copy of Hatful Of Hollow, tried really hard to hear the genius others were hearing in the music, but I just didn't get it.





                            Dave Lee Roth, I Too Am Running With This Devil Of Which You Speak (sic)

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