To their fans, they are “the most important, intelligent, most idiosyncratically English and most sorely-missed pop band of the 1980s.” To their detractors, they are merely the most miserable.
Presenter Tim Samuels, who grew up in Manchester in the 80s, is of the former persuasion. Thirty years since the release of Hand In Glove and the emergence of the band, Samuels asks why The Smiths were so important to their fans – as writer and DJ Stuart Maconie puts it, the band were “life-changing”.
They created a defined, poetic world, one rooted in the North and influenced by domestic melodrama, northern realism and the British New Wave cinema of the 50s and 60s.
As important as Morrissey’s lyrical style and defined sensibility was the musical genius of Johnny Marr, which went far beyond a mere talent for jangly guitar riffs.
Together, they formed a unique musical partnership which won them a swath of fans, from Manchester all the way across the pond to the United States. As ex-pat American and super-fan Amy Lamé explains, “they created a club of outsiders, and I felt part of that club, even 3,000-odd miles away.”