Wednesday, October 17, 2012
"A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths" by Tony Fletcher
Over the years i have heard or read all the tales in this book, via mostly British music magazines - but the author Tony Fletcher tells the tale very well. Fletcher interviewed Johnny Marr and their bass player Andy Rourke, but sadly not Morrissey or Mike Joyce. Perhaps they didn't want to dwell in the past again, or maybe due to legal issues still on the table.
Nevertheless The Smiths were a perfect band at a very specific and important time in pop music history. in the land of the 'New Romantics," The Smiths were truly romantic about their upbringing and their home town of Manchester. But not only that, Morrissey via his lyrics and visual sense, captured all the great aspects of 1950's and 1960's British culture. Listening to The Smiths and purchasing and studying the album graphics, one can get an incredible education on artists, books, and film culture from that era.
Also The Smiths are probably the last band that actually had the work load of some band from the 60's. Their existence was very short (little bit over four years) yet they produced four studio albums, one live albums, and many many b-sides and singles. Being a Smiths fan at the time of their existence was a lot of fun - a lot of trips to the record store. Remarkable music, incredible personalities (and Morrissey to this day is a fantastic pop music figure) and this book exposes or conveys the inner-relationships of this band. It could be a tale of any band really, because it is always a family type relationship. It goes sour, because that is the nature of the human beast. Some bands go through drummers like a leaky pipe, but The Smiths seemed to use and lose managers on a regular basis. On one level it was their downfall - career wise, but then there is a special brilliance about this band that didn't use logic. Morrissey is the genius of the moment, and i think for a long time, Marr understood and appreciated that. What's kind of surprising to me is the after-life of Johnny Marr. It seems like he does everything except to be a permanent member of a band. One would think he would start over with another singer or songwriter partner - but he seems to be drifting. But that maybe over due to his future solo album and tour.
For me the best book on Morrissey/Smiths is "Mozipedia" by Simon Goddard, but this is an essential read for the fans, and again, Fletcher is a good skilled journalist, and I think The Smiths breaking up was a good move in the long run. I know there are people who will disagree with me, but I actually like the Solo Morrissey better then The Smiths! And I love The Smiths. Go figure! The book will be out this December in the U.S. and its published by Random House.
Fascinating documentary from The South Bank Show on The Smiths down below from the late 80s.