The Smiths
Hatful of Hollow


5.0
classic

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
April 8th, 2012 | 27 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: William, It Was Really Something...

As well constructed and flowing as The Smiths’ main studio LP’s were, one simply can’t deny that they also shone astoundingly bright as a singles group. The Mancunian foursome signed to Rough Trade, an indie label who gave them more than considerable reign over their commercial marketing plan, and as such, the boys were never forced to tack their big pop singles onto the front, middle, or end of any of their 4 studio albums. And for the most part, they didn’t – making the seemingly nonchalant releasing of Smiths compilation efforts, Hatful of Hallow being one of such, more justified than it would seem upon the uneducated surface.

But Hatful of Hallow is far more than a justified, collector’s aid to gathering the first batch of Smiths non-album singles and rarities; it’s essential, and more basely, thrilling. Where some would claim that their eponymous debut was held back slightly by, amongst other issues, a slightly inconsistent track list; Hatful of Hallow naturally dodges such critical bullets by trimming that album’s set, cherry-picking the finest tunes and nestling them up alongside numerous fresh cuts, which were, at the time, only available as separate 7” and 12” singles, radio sessions, and such. Factor in the knowledge that many of the duplicate tracks which appeared on The Smiths arrive here as alternate editions, making for a slightly better deal for those who already own that album, and you have the groundwork of one of the most essential and exciting comps of the 1980’s.

None of this would matter if it weren’t for the exceptional songs packed into the generous 16 track selection, such as the uplifting, lightning speed single, ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’ – all sparkling riffery and a perfect put-down to all those who saw The Smiths as a miserable group, with Morrissey’s humour in full effect (“How can you stay with a fat girl who’ll say / oh if you like you can marry me / and if you like you can buy the ring / she doesn’t care about anything”). ‘How Soon is Now?’ is even more vital – a 7 minute epic, marked by tripped out flashes of Johnny Marr’s inimitable lead guitar hook, and the anthemic gloom of the chorus – “You shut your mouth / how can you say / I go about things the wrong way? / I am human and I need to be loved / Just like everybody else does”. Desperate yet somehow uplifting; anthemic yet still intimate; danceable pop yet alternative rock – it’s truly one of the finest Smiths compositions.

Another essential cut arrives with the sardonic ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’. Easily mocked by onlookers via its moaning title, the actual music making up the track is a kind of ironic, twisted beast, with its juxtaposing warm, tropical guitars and simple, rolling bass chords, which meld around Morrissey’s words adding another layer. Given the musical tone, is he being tongue in cheek or is he really that miserable after awakening from a drunken slumber, before which everything was fine for an hour? That’s the beauty and mysterious key to the iconic track. The set drifts into another premium slice of Smithery, with the tender and massively undervalued ‘This Night Has Opened My Eyes’. It features such a unique and delicate mood – one which, as Morrissey comes to colour in with his lyric, “I’m not happy and I’m not sad”; captures a mood of empty indifference so touchingly, and in both lyrical and music terms at that.

Then there’s the intimate and considered acoustics of ‘Back to the Old House’, and its more ballad-like and stronger counterpart, ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’; not to mention the narrowly less thrilling joys of ‘These Things Take Time’, ‘Girl Afraid’, ‘Accept Yourself’, and ‘Handsome Devil’, which features what has to be one of the strangest but most brilliant hooks in a pop song, ever – “oh please let me get my hands / on your mammary glands”. That track list would be worthy of purchase alone, but when alternate versions of The Smiths finest tracks such as ‘This Charming Man’, ‘Still Ill’ and ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ are chucked in on top, it becomes utterly moronic not to invest, even for those who own the main studio LP’s.



Recent reviews by this author
Metronomy Love LettersTemples (UK) Sun Structures
Bombay Bicycle Club So Long, See You TomorrowOasis Dig Out Your Soul
Oasis Don't Believe the TruthOasis Heathen Chemistry
user ratings (457)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
Amanda Murray STAFF (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Wrote this slowly in my spare time over a couple of days. Bored today so decided to throw it up online. Give it a read if you're bored and let me know if you enjoyed the review or just wanna ramble on about The Smiths.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


7401 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"it becomes utterly moronic not to invest"

Nice

I generally tend to prefer The Smiths' later work, but obviously everything they did was at least great. Most of the alt versions on here are better than the studio versions.

Excellent review.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks Ali.

I'm more of a fan of their earlier stuff, so this is like heaven to me. But as you rightly said, everything they did was at least great, and i'm still very fond of their later work too.

This is stronger than most bands full career best-of's and this was released after only one album! The Smiths were just unbelievable really, weren't they.

SCREAMorphine
April 8th 2012


1761 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, pos.
I've always wanted to check out more of The Smiths.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks a lot, SCREAMorphine. This isn't a bad place to start at all with The Smiths. A thrilling picture of their early work - kinda like a more even and varied version of their debut album. What have you checked out so far?


StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ahh this is a very good review. Perfectly describes just why The Smiths, and this album, are so fucking good: the juxtaposition, sarcastic frankness and constant mockery of both themselves and what people expect from - quote- "sad music".

"This Night Has Opened My Eyes" is one of the most overlooked songs of all time. Though then again it has "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out", "This Charming Man" and "William, It Was Really Nothing" to contend with.

Titan50
April 8th 2012


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

How Soon Is Now the greatest song ever

SCREAMorphine
April 8th 2012


1761 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Unfortunately I've only got The Sound of The Smiths.

I'll take your advice and start here, thanks :]


Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers, StrangerofSorts. Yeah, i love that song, so underrated. A real gem in the Smiths catalogue that casual fans could easily miss.

It's an epic song, Titan, one of the first Smiths tunes i properly got into.

No problem, SCREAM.

Archelaos
April 8th 2012


241 Comments


Great review! =] The Smiths are one of my all-time favourites.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks dude. Me too.

PuddlesPuddles
April 8th 2012


4787 Comments


Smiths, I demand Smiths

Jethro42
April 8th 2012


12539 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Major Tom is back at the writing!
How soon is now is such a great song.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I never left ; ) Turning into a bit of a discog review now, seeing as i did their first album a few reviews back.

jefflebowski
April 8th 2012


8257 Comments


my favorite smiths record

nice review, once again

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Might be mine too, if we're 'allowed' to pick comps. Thanks for the praise.

newjunkaesthetic93
April 8th 2012


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The version of "This Charming Man" on here is so much better than the original album version.

Hep Kat
April 8th 2012


15356 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

these are the definitive versions of all these songs. i think this is my most played album of all time. fukn best band ever

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I really like the original versions better! Production is stronger, but hell, any version of songs as good as these is fine. At least they didn't throw the exact same versions in - better value for the kids.

Activista anti-MTV
April 8th 2012


3148 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Other similar artists: Wilco, The National



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy