After making a splash with their first two 12-inches, “Hand In Glove” and “This Charming Man”, The Smiths quickly retreated to the studio to record their self-titled debut full-length. The album was met with lukewarm reviews (mostly citing the unsatisfactory work of producer John Porter) and failed to produce a worthy successor to their string of successful singles, but the band had a plethora of additional material leftover from a handful of John Peel sessions and b-sides. Dissatisfied with their tepid entry in the album charts, Rough Trade collected these tracks and took another stab at a worthy Smiths full-length, and with the arrival of Hatful Of Hollow, their prior false-start was instantly forgiven by fans and the press alike. Where Morrissey fell flat on The Smiths, he soars on Hatful Of Hollow; his cavorting wit (“Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”) and catchy hooks (“How Soon Is Now?”) divert the listener from the unassailable truth that he’s just not that great of a singer. Johnny Marr’s consistently immaculate riffs and complete aversion to flashy guitar solos solidify his place as one of rock & roll’s most creative guitarists of all time. Hatful Of Hollow contains definitive versions of some of The Smiths’ best songs: the acoustic version of “Back To The Old House”, culled from a 1983 Peel session, is an uncharacteristically intimate and haunting entry in The Smiths’ catalog; with a very rare use of echo on Morrissey’s voice during the coda particularly hair-raising. The jangle-pop Peel session version of “This Charming Man” is refreshingly mellow compared to the enthusiastic “Manchester” and “London” versions found on the original 12-inch. Hatful Of Hollow is a unanimous favorite of all Smiths enthusiasts, and a terrific point of entry for anyone looking to see what the fuss is all about. Recommended.
- 180 gram pressing
- music label: Rhino
reviewed by peanut dust 04/2017
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