The Smiths is the debut album by English alternative rock band The Smiths, released on 20 February 1984. The album reached number two on the UK Albums Chart, staying on the chart for 33 weeks.[1] After the original production by Troy Tate was felt to be inadequate, John Porter rerecorded the album in both London and Manchester during breaks in the band's UK tour during September 1983. The album was well received by the critics as well as the public, and it established The Smiths as a prominent band in the 1980s music scene in the United Kingdom.


 [hide*1 Production


After signing with independent record label Rough Trade, the Smiths began preparations to record their first album in mid 1983. Due to the suggestion of Rough Trade head Geoff Travis, the band selected Troy Tate (former guitarist of The Teardrop Explodes) as producer for sessions at Elephant studios in Wapping.[2] During the following month the group recorded 14 songs.[3]

While recording a BBC session for Dave Jensen in August 1983, the Smiths met producer John Porter. Travis, harbouring reservations about the group's session with Troy Tate, gave Porter a cassette of the sessions beforehand in the hopes that he could remix them. Porter told Travis that the sessions were "out of tune and out of time." Feeling the Tate sessions were unsalvageable, Porter offered to rerecord the album himself. Despite praising the work with Tate only a week prior to the press by stating "we've done everything exactly right and it'll show", Smiths singer Morrissey accepted (as did Travis), while guitarist Johnny Marr hesitantly agreed.[3]

The Smiths began work with Porter in September 1983. Due to tour commitments, the band had to make the record in a piecemeal fashion. Recording started at London's Matrix Studios, with the majority of the work undertaken during a week's stay at Pluto, just outside Manchester. A final overdub sessions was performed at Eden Studios in London that November.[4] After listening to a finished mix of the album the following month, Morrissey told Porter and Travis that the album "wasn't good enough". However, the singer said that due to the album's cost of 6,000 pounds, "[they said] it has to be released, there's no going back".[5]


The sleeve for The Smiths was designed by Morrissey. It features American actor Joe Dallesandro in a cropped still from Andy Warhol's 1968 film Flesh. The photograph of Morrissey on the original card inner sleeve was taken at an early London concert by Romi Mori who would subsequently play bass guitar for the Gun Club.


The album was released 20 February 1984, and debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart.[5]

The single "What Difference Does It Make?" was released in January 1984, reaching number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.[6]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic link
BBC (Favourable)link
Billboard (93/100) [1]
Blender link
Pitchfork Media (8.8/10) link
Robert Christgau (B-) link
Rolling Stone link

The music critic Garry Mulholland included it in his list of the 261 greatest albums since 1976 in Fear of Music: "The Smiths made safe their early legend with a debut album about child abuse. The production was flat and dour, yet it succeeded in conjuring yet another Manchester-in-song, distinctly different from that of Ian Curtis and Mark E. Smith. But everything about The Smiths ran contrary to mid-80s pop, from Joe Dallesandro on the cover to the restrained jangling of the songs, but mainly through Moz's [Morrissey's nickname] dramatised disgust at sex, which here exists to ruin true love at best, and to ruin an entire young life at worst."[7]

Slant Magazine listed the album at 51 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" saying "There's no reason why a mordant, sexually frustrated disciple of Oscar Wilde who loved punk but crooned like a malfunctioning Sinatra should've teamed up with a fabulously inventive guitarist whose influences were so diffuse that it could be hard to hear them at all and formed one of the greatest songwriting duos of the '80s."[8] In 1989, the album was ranked number 22 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s.[9] In 2003, the album was ranked number 481 on that magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[10] The album ranked at 473 on an updated list by the magazine in 2012. The album was ranked number 51 onRolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time.[11]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Guardian United Kingdom 100 Best Albums Ever[12] 1997 73

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs written and composed by Morrissey and Johnny Marr. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Reel Around the Fountain"   5:58
2. "You've Got Everything Now"   3:59
3. "Miserable Lie"   4:29
4. "Pretty Girls Make Graves"   3:24
5. "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle"   4:38
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Still Ill"   3:23
7. "Hand in Glove"   3:25
8. "What Difference Does It Make?"   3:51
9. "I Don't Owe You Anything"   4:05
10. "Suffer Little Children"   5:28
  • "This Charming Man" was included as track 6 on all original USA releases of the album on Sire Records (LP, CD and cassette), and on the UK cassette on Rough Trade. Since 1992, when WEA acquired The Smiths' catalogue, nearly all reissues worldwide also include this song, with possibly the only exception being a 2009 vinyl reissue on Rhino Records in both the USA and the UK.[13]




Year Chart Position
1984 UK Albums Chart 2
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