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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Top 25 Smiths Songs of All Time, 25 Years After the Band's Split

Posted By on Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 3:00 AM

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15. "A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours" (Strangeways, Here We Come, 1987)

The Smiths' funereal final album begins with a Spanish lullaby: "A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours." With a voice chastened by the humiliations of twenties-dom ("Oh, but don't mention love/ I'd hate the strain of the pain all over again"), Morrissey finds comfort in his resignation. The piano riff is like a siesta on quartz sand, helping this thwarted love song go down a little easier.

14. "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" (Meat Is Murder, 1985)

The weathered, unsentimental beauty of "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" can't go overstated. Every pause is lyrical; the silences speak multitudes. Ultimately, it's what you don't hear -- the chorus of soul-sapping jeers that started on the schoolyard and followed Moz well into adulthood -- that's as important as what you do.

13. "The Headmaster Ritual" (Meat Is Murder, 1985)

With "The Headmaster Ritual," Marr turned an MC5 homage into a superbly engineered pop song. Darting power-pop riffs give way to a hook that stutters as nervously as a child about to feel the military two-step down the nape of his neck.

12. "Shoplifters of the World Unite" (Louder Than Bombs, 1987)

In the wake of last summer's British riots, "Shoplifters of the World Unite" proved prophetic: it's a rejection of austerity and an indictment of conservatism. With a chorus big enough to knock down concrete barricades, "Shoplifters" is so anthemically charged that it feels like an electric zap.

11. "I Want the One I Can't Have" (Meat Is Murder, 1985)

Meat Is Murder is largely about the state of the working poor in a hierarchical, misgoverned country. "I Want the One I Can't Have" brings that into focus via erotic dramatization: Morrissey makes a lover out of a deprived boy conditioned to fail. Caligula would've blushed at "If you ever need self-validation/ Just meet me in the alley by the railway station."

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M.T. Richards

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