How Soon Is Now? The Songs Of The Smiths

A few months ago we witnessed Million Dead cover "Girlfriend In A Coma" in Manchester. By the end of the song we weren't even in the venue. It was just one of those moments of musical sacrilege that we couldn't bear to witness and Million Dead had the sheer audacity to actually flaunt it in the very city that the Smiths were borne from. In short it was the musical equivalent of walking through New York with a T-Shirt that reads "Al Quaeda flew to New York and all they bought be was this lousy T-Shirt".

It's with trepidation that we approach The Sore Point Records release How Soon Is Now?. On one hand you've got the fact that Morrissey has inspired a whole generation of Emo and post-hardcore bands instead of a band like the Stone Roses or Oasis who simply inspired a generation of shoddy tribute bands who had the swagger and none of the talent. What was so exciting about the Smiths is they had a depth that most bands are lacking in. The gigs were full of sensitive souls standing side by side with aggressive football louts. Their songs had humour and despair and that's where the emo bands fail on every level - they never see that half of everything Morrrisey sang was done with his tongue placed firmly in his cheek.

Of the bands that succeed its perhaps those that stay faithful to the originals that fair better. Walter Walter's version of "Ask" is a near replica apart from the scratchy guitars firing off in the background. Garrison's "Panic" is sneered out with a disengaged snarl and although it features none of the frivolity of the original it shows a different side to the song. "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" is my favourite Smiths song of all time and it was this song out of all them that I was most wary of, but My Awesome Compilation have actually rewritten the tune, kept the lyrics and offer and interesting take on the song.

God knows what tune Lomax were listening to when they recorded "Handsome Devil", or what possessed yourcodenameis:milo to destroy "Death Of A Disco Dancer" to an inch of its life. Elsewhere Hundred Reasons and Read Yellow's take on "How Soon Is Now?" and "Bigmouth Strikes Again" begs the question what is the need.

"How Soon Is Now?" is perhaps one of those albums which documents the times better than it does soundtrack them. While working as a reference point for the younger post-hardcore fans that haven't heard much of the Smiths material previously it's perhaps going to put more fans off than it would ever convert. With just a bit of thought this could have been a great album, but instead Morrissey is probably reeling from the whole sorry affair.

Alex McCann

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