The Smiths, one of the most influential rock groups in the U.K. since the Beatles—perhaps the most influential U.K. band of the 1980s—finally get the complete and vivid biography they deserve. Fletcher, a music journalist who has written well-received bios of rock icons R.E.M., Keith Moon of the Who, and most recently the Clash (The Complete Guide to Their Music) perfectly captures the wit and complexity of the band and its music. Fletcher details the formation of the band in Manchester in 1982 by guitarist Johnny Marr, whose goal was to combine music “led by an upbeat, chiming guitar riff” influenced by punk groups the Clash and the Jam with lyrics that were “’searingly poetic and jubilant” in the spirit of Leonard Cohen. He found his lyricist and lead singer in the now-legendary front-man Morrissey, who provided bleak and funny words to such songs as “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.” Fletcher is excellent is describing how the Smiths’ music not only served as a reaction to the synth-based pop music of the early 1980s but also ushered in a new era of “indie rock” outside the corporate music world. He provides complete details of the band members’ intense personal, musical, and business conflicts. Best of all for the group’s ongoing admirers and fans, Fletcher displays an unflagging enthusiasm in describing every aspect of how the Smiths produced “a torrent of brilliant work in a blazing stream of exhaustive glory.” (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/29/2012 Release date: 12/04/2012 Genre: Nonfiction
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