"The Smiths" selt-titled debut album
February/April 1984


Reel Around The Fountain
You've Got Everything Now
Miserable Lie
Pretty Girls Make Graves
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
This Charming Man *
Still Ill
Hand In Glove (remixed by John Porter)
What Difference Does It Make?
I Don't Owe You Anything
Suffer Little Children

UK CD [Rough Trade ROUGHCD61]
UK CS [Rough Trade ROUGHC61] *
UK LP [Rough Trade ROUGH61]
UK LP [Rhino UK ROURH61; 2009 reissue on 180g LP]
UK/Europe CD [2012 reissue on Warner/Rhino ‎2564660488]
UK/Europe LP [2012 reissue on Rhino Records 2564665880]
Australia CD [1988 reissue on Festival D30103] *
Australia CD [1993 reissue on Warner Australia 450991892-2] *
Australia CS [CBS RTCANZ004] *
Australia CS [1988 reissue on Festival C30103] *
Australia LP [CBS RTRANZ004] *
Australia LP [1988 reissue on Festival L30103] *
Brazil CD [WEA 450991892-2] *
Brazil CS [existence unconfirmed]
Brazil LP [WEA 670.0074]
Canada CD [Sire CD-25065] *
Canada CS [Sire 92 50654] *
Canada LP [Sire 92 50651] *
Europe CD [WEA 450991892-2] *
Europe CS [WEA 450991892-4] *
Europe 10 [WEA 450991891-1]
France LP [early Virgin 205540]
France LP [Virgin 70234]
France CD [Virgin 030256]
France CS [Virgin 50234] *
Germany LP [RT Deutschland RTD25]
Greece CS [Virgin TC-VG50050]
Greece LP [Virgin VG062 50050]
Holland LP [Ariola/Megadisc ROUGH61]
Holland LP [reissue on Megadisc MD61]
Hong Kong (?) LP [Rough Trade ROUGH61]
Indonesia CS [Specialist Recording 1680]
Italy CS [Rough Trade/Virgin ROUGHK 761]
Italy LP [Rough Trade/Virgin ROUGH61]
Japan CD [Tokuma Japan 35JC-102] *
Japan CD [1987 reissue on Victor VDP-5079]
Japan CD [1990 reissue on Victor VICP-2001]
Japan CD [1993 reissue on WEA WMC5-542] *
Japan CD [1995 reissue on WEA WPCR-301] *
Japan CD [2006 reissue on WEA WPCR-12438] *
Japan CS [Tokuma Japan 25J-103]
Japan LP [Tokuma Japan 25RTL-6]
Japan LP [1987 reissue on Victor VIP-4217]
New Zealand LP [CBS RTANZ004] *
New Zealand CS [CBS RTCANZ004] *
Philippines LP [MC-TC-ROUGH-61]
Philippines CS [MC-ROUGH-61]
Poland LP [Tonpress SX-T 115]
Portugal LP [Transmedia TM/RT 61]
Saudi Arabia CS [CS 5754]
Saudi Arabia CS [747 New Wave 9136]
Saudi Arabia CS [IMD 5509]
Singapore CS [Dancer US2567]
Spain CS [Nuevos Medios 44 071 C]
Spain LP [Nuevos Medios 43-070L]
Sweden LP [MNW ROUGH61]
Taiwan CS [Crystal ROUGHC61]
USA CD [Sire 9 25065-2] *
USA CD [Columbia House Record Club W2 25065] *
USA CD [BMG Direct Record Club D102694] *
USA CD [2012 reissue on Sire/Rhino R2 25065]
USA CS [Sire 9 25065-4] *
USA CS [Columbia House Record Club W4 25065] *
USA LP [Sire 9 25065-1] *
USA LP [Rhino R1 520968; 2009 reissue on 180g LP]
Zimbabwe LP [Plum TRL 3533]
(unknown) LP [Rough Trade ROUGH61]
(unknown) CS [Glory 84-1528]


Additional information:
* "This Charming Man" was included as a bonus track on all formats released by Sire in the USA and Canada (including record club editions), on UK-Rough Trade and France-Virgin cassettes, on the original Japan-Tokuma cd (see note below), on all formats released in Australia and New Zealand on CBS and Festival, on all 1993-2006 cd and cassette reissues on WEA/Warner, as well as on the cd edition (but not the LP) included in the "Complete" box set. The song is usually slotted as track #6/beginning of side B, except in Australia and New Zealand on CBS and Fesvival where it is found at the end of the track listing, and on the French Virgin cassette where it closes side 1. The title is included in the track listing on the back of the Brazil and Italy LPs, but not found on those editions.

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.


Artwork information:
Cover star is Joe Dallesandro culled from Andy Warhol's "Flesh", directed by Paul Morrissey [1968] (view original). The tint of the photo and colour and emphasis of the band's name vary slightly between countries and formats. The most notable differences are the Portugal and Zimbabwe LPs for which the band's name appear in pink and yellow, respectively.

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:
UK LP and cassette: 20 February 1984
USA/Canada LP and cassette: April 1984
UK cd: October 1986
USA/Canada cd: July 1987
UK/Europe WEA re-releases: 15 November 1993
Australia WEA 1993 re-release: 12 December 1993
Japan WEA 1993 re-release: 10 December 1993
Japan WEA 2006 re-release: 13 September 2006
UK 2009 LP reissue: 6 July 2009
USA 2009 LP reissue: 25 August 2009
UK 2012 reissues: 26 March 2012
USA 2012 cd reissue: 3 April 2012


Chart peak information:
UK: 2
USA: 150


Certified platinum in the UK


UK: White label copies of the album were dispatched to radio and perhaps major retailers at the time of its release. Some of these were slipped in picture sleeves, but in most cases the record was slipped inside a plain white sleeve. In both cases the promo usually came with two press releases. Some of the white sleeves promos had the latter one-sided sheet affixed to the front. Other scarcer promo LPs which may have served a slightly different promotional purpose have a Scott Piering sticker and photocopies of the labels glued to the sleeve. A promo 7" (Rough Trade, R61DJ; view label here) was also sent to DJs shortly before the release of the album. It had "Still Ill" on side A, backed by "You've Got Everything Now". This item was also distributed with a press release.

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."
- Morrissey, Record Mirror, 11 February 1984

"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."
- Johnny Marr, Sounds, 25 February 1984

"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."
- Morrissey, Melody Maker, 3 March 1984

"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."
- Johnny Marr, Melody Maker, 2 August 1985

What was your opinion of the first album?
"I haven't listened to it in ages. I was happy that people were getting a chance to hear us, because we were better than anyone else at the time and I just thought I was happy to make a record. Just that it existed and the songs were there for people to hear was enough for me. It wasn't until people started mentioning the production that I noticed it, really."
How do you feel about the production?
"I think the only way that record could have got made was for John Porter to come in and show us how to make a record properly, which is what he did. He showed me how to make a record."
- Johnny Marr, Record Collector, November/December 1992

"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."
- Andy Rourke on 'I Don't Owe You Anything', Select, April 1993

"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."
- Mike Joyce, Select, April 1993

"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."
- Johnny Marr, Select, December 1993

"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!"
- Morrissey, Q, April 1994

"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..."
- Johnny Marr, The Guitar Magazine, January 1997

"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..."
- Mike Joyce, Mojo, March 2000



"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." (****)
- Stephen Dalton, Uncut, 1998

Gladioli All Over
"'And if you must go to work tomorrow
Well, if I were you I wouldn't bother'
Without being perjorative, there is something soporific about the sound of The Smiths. It's so easy to lapse into their languid dreams without stopping to question where precisely this man Morrissey should be placed in the infinite space between heaven and pillow.
Just how clinical and how innocent is this seducer of our imaginations? How genuine his successive (and often mutually exclusive) stances as corrupted and corruptor, reformed literary libertine and celibate gay bachelor? After contemplation of his flamboyant advances I've arrived at no conclusion as to what precisely he bears before him or what exactly he is after. What remains at the core of Morrissey's art is a mystique that has so far proved impenetrable - he affords the odd insight, but there is never enough glimpsed to dispel his fascination.
Consideration of The Smiths always ends up as attempted penetration of Morrissey's singular charms, primarily because The Smiths in plural are as average as their uncharismatic name suggests. Where Morrissey is a wielder of the archaic art of the word, his cohorts are merely competent workers in the grimy craft of pop. Musically The Smiths are little more than mildly regressive. What saves them is Morrissey's rare grasp of the myriad distortions of the pastel worlds of nostalgia. Much of the intrigue behind The Smiths is not what they have to offer but the seductive manner in which Morrissey offers it - his beguiling invitation to forget art and dance in a notion of animated camp. At this point we come to his enigma - of the uncalculated versus the contrived.
This has its opening in the cold quivering reflections of the plaintive epic of 'Reel Around the Fountain' - a picture of virtual classical proportions, with Morrissey's world weary tones washing a grey tale of innocence lost. 'It's time the tale were told,' he opens, 'Of how you took a child/And you made him old' - you have to rouse yourself from the pleasant malaise that the lazy pace induces to recall that, at the end of the song, nothing of 'the tale' has actually been revealed.
Throughout the LP he captures a set of fascinations that appeal to the current mood - the only question is how many of them are indeed his own and how many the result of long years' research in a rented room in Whalley Range. Too frequently his philosophy of pop seems all too neatly prepared to appeal - the quaint campaign against the synthesiser for example. The mass appeal lies (unfortunately) in a form of traditionalism - so Morrissey offers the fictional tradition of 'great pop' - complete this sentence in six letters. The Buzzcocks, Orange Juice, The....... Calculation, though, can offer an aesthetic of its own and The Smiths, like Culture Club, weave an intricate web of insignia, delightful in its diversity, intriguing in its attention to detail, but finally impenetrable.
From the sexy male cover to 'Hand in Glove' Morrissey has proved himself adept at the gender identity game - another tradition of longstanding appeal. Throughout the LP he plucks at the same strings of homoeroticism: 'I'm not the man you think I am,' he intimates coyly on 'Pretty Girls Make Graves' concluding, 'I've lost my faith in Womanhood' - both of which are in fact snippets open to entirely opposite interpretations.
When he breaks the genderless rule, it is with a slyness we might expect: 'into the depths of the criminal world I followed her...," calling up a reference to Cocteau's Orpheus films (a comparison not so obscure when you consider that their star, and Cocteau's lover, Jean Marais was featured on the cover of 'This Charming Man'). Where Cocteau's Orpheus is left unable to look at his wife (perhaps he too had lost his faith in Womanhood), Morrissey ends with 'I need advice because nobody ever looks at me twice'.
For every tendency in Morrissey's scheme of things, though, there is the necessary balance, for the heaving tragedy of 'And "love" is just a miserable lie' there's the flippancy of 'I know that wind-swept mystical air/It means I'd like to see your underwear'.
It's more than just a question of balance, though, it's a problem of plausibility, and Morrissey is very believable; how convincing his aura of deceptive simplicity, how credible his imitation of the wide-eyed village boy adrift in the big city. When he claims to be 'a country mile behind the world' you believe him, largely because his view of the city is one visibly strained through early '60's films of late '50's novels - a notion of reality three times removed.
'Still Ill', for example, is a drama of flawed perfection, flickering fading values in dusty monochrome - Morrissey kissing beneath the iron bridge finds the fictional Britishness of his obsession slipping through his fingers, 'But we cannot cling to the old dreams anymore'.
What Morrissey captures above all is a notion of despair reflected perfectly in the lacklustre sound of his cohorts, a death of the punk ideals that Morrissey is quite old enough to have been closely involved in. In turn what distinguishes him from a Weller is firstly his wit, and secondly the sensitivitiy to deal in despair without resorting to preaching in desperation.
What does this suitor offer? A calculated plan, perhaps, but enough to haunt the imagination. For the moment that's enough."
- Don Watson, NME, 25 February 1984

"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.
Without the need for confusing or complicated lyrics, Morrissey manages more than adequately to comment on life's little tricks and to expose its cruel contradictions. Sometimes the songs may evoke particular sadness, but human nature can often find humour in most tragedies and Morrissey has sufficiently grasped this notion to enable him to install a new 'emotion' into modern music.
Labelled 'Sixties revivalists,' the tag is as uncomplimentary as it is inappropriate. There was never a band in the Sixties that played like this. The only common denominator (aprt from the flowers) is that, as with the great success stories of that era, the Smiths could be capable of transcending generation as well as gender. The marvellously melodic 'I Don't Owe You Anything' certainly suggests that they may be destined for the dizziest of heights.
Compulsive listening, the songs are instantaneously enjoyable and yet endlessly thought provoking. And while Morrissey's effortlessly novel deliverance of 'the words' obviously warrants discussion, mention must also be made of Johnny Marr's invaluable contribution in writing the music. This album will be tremendously successful for them because they have dared to make it so. With personal songs such as these, they left themselves vulnerable, but the conviction with which they carried out the recording has ensured that it's the listener who is due for the shock! And who knows, maybe Morrissey will be able to make honesty a fashionable commodity."
- Mike Wrenn

"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."
- Wayne King, High Fidelity, August 1984

"The frenziedly-awaited debut LP disappoints, thanks to elephants-ear production (grey and flat), and ludicrously overblown expectations."
- Danny Kelly, NME, 8 August 1987

"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."
- unknown critic, Rolling Stone