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LP (UK, etc.) Holland LP Germany LP Portugal LP Zimbabwe LP (unknown) LP UK, Eur-WEA, Fra, Jpn-Tok, Jpn93, Jpn95 cd USA, Can, Aus, Jpn90 cd 10" vinyl reissue UK, Europe-WEA, France cassette USA cassette Canada cassette Japan cassette Italy cassette Greece cassette Australia, New Zealand cassette Australia-Festival cassette LP inner sleeve inside UK cd 1 inside UK cd 2 inside UK cassette UK LP back UK cd back USA cd back USA sampler 12"
"The Smiths" selt-titled debut album|
Reel Around The Fountain
UK CD [Rough Trade ROUGHCD61]
First Japanese CDs (Tokuma 35JC-102 and the double edition with "Meat Is Murder") included bonus tracks "Hand In Glove" by Sandie Shaw (otherwise unavailable mix), "These Things Take Time", "This Charming Man" and "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now".
A bonus 1-sided 7" of "This Charming Man" (RTOS136/08-10803) was given away with some copies of the Holland LP. View here.
A red flexi featuring an interview done by Yuko Takano in October 1983 at Strawberry Studios during the recording of the album was given away with the first copies of the Japanese LP on Tokuma. View here.
The 2006 Japanese cd reissue is slipped inside a mini-replica of the original Tokuma Japan LP sleeve. Even the inner sleeve, obi and label are replicas of the ones from the original LP pressing. For this reason, bonus track "This Charming Man" is not mentioned on the sleeve or within the lyrics even though it is featured on this edition.
The pink vinyl, blue vinyl, yellow vinyl, red vinyl and clear vinyl LP editions on Rough Trade/Transmedia are actually bootleg reproductions made in 2006, 2007 or 2009.
The UK edition of the 2009 LP reissue includes a coupon with an offer to download the album on MP3 format. This was not offered with the USA edition.
The 2012 UK/Europe Rhino reissues on compact disc and LP are identical to the editions found inside the 2011 "Complete" box set.
The UK cassette shows a cropped portion of the LP and CD artwork.
All formats have individual photos of the band members. They are found on the LP's inner sleeve and inside the cd and cassette inserts. An additional band photo by Eric Watson is found in the original UK cd insert.
Etchings on vinyl:
Additional release date information:
Chart peak information:
Australia: Promotion was done at the time of the original release of this album with promo copies of the LP. These had the same content and artwork, except for the labels which were of the usual black and white 'hat man' type with promo-only warnings on them. The festival reissues from 1988 were promoted via stock copies of the LP with a promo sticker on the label.
Brazil: Stock copies were stamped "Especial para promoçao invendavel amostra gratis tributada" in gold letters on the back.
Canada: Gold-stamped copies of the stock LP were sent to radio and record shops for promotion. The promo 7" mentioned on the "What Difference Does It Make?" page served to promote this album as well as that single. A various artists promo cassette titled "Internationally Yours" (WEA IYC1984) and featuring "This Charming Man" was sent to media.
Germany: Rough Trade Deutschland took special care in promoting the Smiths' debut album by printing a limited (400 to 500) and numbered LP on multicoloured vinyl (RTD25). The record was usually slipped inside a generic die cut sleeve showing the label, on which the series number sticker was glued. It must be said that some copies were distributed inside the stock sleeve. The record usually came with a one-page or a three-page press release. Some copies included 2 promo postcards.
Japan: Promotion of the original release was done via copies of the LP format with a white SAMPLE sticker on the sleeve and the usual extra 3-character promo text printed on the label. Promo cds for the 1990 and 1993 reissues (and perhaps the 1987 and 1995 as well) have a promo sticker on the case and promo text on the cds' inner ring. The promo cds for the 2006 reissue in LP-replica sleeve have a white and red promo sticker on the back of the obi and 'sample loaned' etched on the cd's inner ring.
USA: Gold-stamped copies of the stock LP were sent to radio and record shops for promotion. The album was also promoted with the help of a 3-track 12" sampler (Sire, PRO-A-2136; view in left frame) which was distributed to media at the time of the album's release. The tracks on it are "What Difference Does It Make?", "This Charming Man" and "Reel Around The Fountain". The promo 7" mentioned on the "What Difference Does It Make?" page served to promote this album as well as that single. A press kit including a 2-page bio and one or two photos by Paul Cox was sent to radio and the relevent media. This sometimes included a photocopy of the cover of a NME issue announcing the Smiths as the best new act of 1983.
"We have an album released on 20th February and I really do expect the highest critical praise for it. It's a very, very good album. It is a signal post in music."
"All the elements of the Smiths are there. There's nothing lost, I'm sure of it. Our producer John Porter was the perfect studio technician for us. He got some amazing subtleties but at the same time we were putting some things down in just a couple of takes."
"I'm really ready to be burned at the stake in total defence of that record. It means so much to me that I could never explain, however long you gave me. It becomes almost difficult and one is just simply swamped in emotion about the whole thing. It's getting to the point where I almost can't even talk about it, which many people will see as an absolute blessing. It just seems absolutely perfect to me. From my own personal standpoint, it seems to convey exactly what I wanted it to."
"Looking back on the first album now I can say that I'm not as madly keen on it as I was. I think that a lot of the fire was missing on it and most of our supporters realise that as well. Although having said that, 'Still Ill' and 'Suffer Little Children' and 'Hand That Rocks' are all still great songs."
What was your opinion of the first album?
"John Porter (producer) suggested getting that bloke Paul Carrack in on keyboards to see what would happen, and I thought it really brought it alive."
"Even with the sleeve, you know, for 'The Smiths,' Johnny said to me, Uh, I've got the cover of the new album. And it's a picture of a bloke going down on another bloke. So I'm like, Great! Fan-ta-stic! Hey, mam, look what I've been doing the last eight months! And I thought, well, how far do we want to take this? Because of course it's porn but straight away it starts you thinking, and that's what I mean when I say I maybe wasn't that clued in because Johnny and Morrissey were classic music fans for many years, and I'm sure they'd already been in Top Of The Pops in their heads, and they'd already thought about the things that have to be done to be creative, instead of just going blindly ahead and just falling by the wayside."
"I didn't think it was the best debut of all time, I just thought it was the best record out at the time. I haven't listened to it for ages. I know it's a great collection of songs. It became the norm to criticise it. People echo what they've heard in the press."
"Rolling Stone cite the first album as the hidden gem. That baffles me. I thought it was so badly produced. And that matters if you're stood behind a mike singing your heart out. A great glut of Smiths records were badly produced. I remember a drive from Brixton to Derby where I listened on a Walkman to The Smiths' first album which we'd recorded for the second time and I turned to Geoff Travis on my right and John Porter on my left and said, This is not good enough, and they both squashed me in the seat and said that it cost f60,000, it has to be released, there's no going back. I had two very moist cheeks and there's an anger there that has never subsided, because The Smiths' first album should have been so much better than it was. (Laughs) Oh, how boring!"
"The thing that sticks in my mind is not really liking the sound of the record. It wasn't anybody's fault, particularly - just time and budget limitations. Suffer Little Children has certainly got the atmosphere that I intended, and Pretty Girls Make Graves was probably good as it was ever going to be... whatever that means! ...a lot of the album was actually recorded with a '54 Telecaster belonging to John Porter. I used a Rickenbacker 360 12-string as well, and that was the guitar which subsequently got all the attention, but in fact it was mainly the Tele, and a bit of Les Paul. Overall, what I really didn't like about the records then was the amp, the Roland Jazz Chorus - that's the fuckin' prime suspect. Hey man, it was the '80s! They sounded fine to the player, but I think they failed out front. There seemed to be [a] big hole in the sound..."
"What's going on in the rest of that picture is pretty interesting," says The Smiths' drummer today. "You know, with another geezer. Morrissey's going, 'This is the album cover,' and I'm like (tired resignation), Oh great, cool, whatever. After the cover of Hand In Glove, this was like, Wa-a-a-it, hold on a minute. Very cleverly he didn't tell me the picture was going to be cropped. I could imagine my parents going (Mrs Doyle voice): 'Well, that's nice, Michael.' The local priest, all my relatives..."
"The coming of age of a major songwriting duo and a highly original new voice in pop. Morrissey betrays a morbid fear of sex ("Pretty Girls Make Graves", "Miserable Lie"), an ambiguous obsession with child killers ("Suffer Little Children", "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle"), and a deeply romanticised kitchen-sink fatalism." (****)
Gladioli All Over
"The Smiths will quickly and justifiably become giants. This, their first album, is as fresh and colourful as the newly picked daffodils that wordsmith Morrissey likes to wave about onstage. Counteracting just about everything else around at the moment, without necessitating any hostilities, the Smiths seem to be responding to a desire for frankness in music. Indeed, the very name is suggestive of their down-to-earth approach.
"Judging by reactions to an appallingly foul debut by the Smiths (voted 1983's Best New Band by readers of Britain's pop music weekly, New Musical Express), the rock press's stock may be plummeting to an all-time low. How else can one explain English critics quoting Nietzsche to summarize the sexual politics of a record that promotes pederasty (sample lyric: "I once had a child/It saved my life... There never need be longing in your eyes/As long as the hand that rocks the cradle is mine")? How else to understand Creem magazine citing one of the songs as condoning child molesting, then rendering a final judgement on "The Smiths" as ambiguous as the ambisexual lyrics this quartet generally deals in?
Forget the music, a watered-down cop of the R.E.M./Echo and the Bunnymen style of jangly, "new psychedelic" guitar/bass/drums. Ignore singer/songwriter Morrissey's canny self-promotion - he uses just one name, presumably stolen from filmmaker Paul Morrissey, a scene from whose Andy Warhol's Flesh graces the album cover. Neglect the fact that Morrissey can't carry a tune. Skip the simple charms of the acclaimed single, This Charming Man, which only proves no British band to be above plundering the Motown catalog for a surging bass line when necessity so dictates. Instead, focus on a quotation from Reel Around The Fountain. "Fifteen minutes with you," the singer tells us, recalling the particularly apt Warholian dictum about stardom and the quarter hour, "well, I wouldn't say no." When it comes to The Smiths, I would."
"The frenziedly-awaited debut LP disappoints, thanks to elephants-ear production (grey and flat), and ludicrously overblown expectations."
"I liked this record quite a bit initially. Lead singer Morrissey's memories of heterosexual rejection and subsequent homosexual isolation were bracing in their candor, and Johnny Marr's delicately chiming guitar provided a surprisingly warm and sympathetic setting. The candor remains admirable: whether recalling the confusion of early sexual encounters ('I'm not the man you think I am') or the sometimes heartless exploitation of the gay scene, Morrissey lays out his life like a shoe box full of tattered snapshots. And some of the Smiths' music (the U.K. hits 'Hand In Glove' and 'This Charming Man' and the animated 'What Difference Does It Make?' which reprises a venerable garage-punk riff) still works. But Morrissey's sometimes toneless drone becomes irritating and the music is too sketchy and restrained to counteract it. An intriguing curio, but not necessarily a keeper."