For you old lecturer croneys out there (naming no names Ian and Richard) :)...
The Smiths have a lot to answer for in music. If not justÂ for Stephen Patrick Morrissey's (or Morrissey as he is better known) hair, vulgar nylon shirts, dubious dancing and discordant vocal, but their ability to stand out from the crowd upon their inception.
Manchester did not know what had hit it in 1982 whenÂ six modest ladsÂ joined together toÂ create the originalÂ indie music, whenÂ indie meant independentÂ record label and not skinny jeans, nasal naffness and drearily repetitiveÂ tunes.
This is not to say singer/songwriter Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce did not help to create an intriguingly successful but questionably talentedÂ legacy thereafter. Â
Although despite the rock group's five year stay near the top of British music betwen 1982 and 1987, which included a lot of arty disputes and popÂ videos which involved Morrissey reading literative manifestos whilst dithering past dirty Manchester tower blocks, the glory days may return amidst rumours on the grapevine of a comeback.
Grim realities have always been Morrissey's thing. You only need to listen to his deadpan vocals and despairing lyrics on tracks including Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now and Panic to be drawn to that conclusion. So whether The Smiths will be reaffirmed as cult favourites amongst a current quilt of which its patchwork is filled with the very evil Morrissey waxed lyrical about - electronic pop groups with pretentious names and ethics nonetheless - will be very interesting to see. That is, if they are to reform.
Rumours have circulated in music magazines including Q and NME that the group will reform, particularly after The Sun reported last month that the jangly guitar-based band would reform for the Coachella Festival in 2009. But with the techy relationship between Morrissey and Marr (which lead to the dissolution of The Smiths in the first place), it is very difficult to see how the two intellectual egos would settle their differences and return to pop stardom.
But a reunion would certainly be welcomed by the majority of alternative and indie music followers and those who are longstanding supporters. Originally opposed to the New Wave, New Romantic and Synthpop numpties like Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Duran Duran and Simple MindsÂ (although ironically guitarist Marr conistently collaborated withÂ Synthpop figures including New Order's Bernard Sumner and Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant after The Smiths dissolved), The SmithsÂ despised their commercialisation catchyness and inane familiarity. But if you were born amidst an era of Mancunian punk, you always had half a chance of following the anti-establishment and anti-pop crowd.
With the Sex Pistols, Joy Division, The Fall and The Buzzcocks as their inspiration amidst tough times in the north, with more people at the dole queue than securing multi-million pound record deals, The Smiths had plenty of inspiration to reflect upon.
Responsible in part for the Britpop explosion which hence followed in the 90s, of which Oasis, Pulp, Blur, The Verve and Suede could lay claim to garnering their musical influences, Morrissey and company delivered a string of top 40 hit singles, including This Charming Man, How Soon Is Now and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.
Often a mixture of melancholy misery and toe-tapping melodies, the group fused the catchy ethic of popular music with hard-hitting realistic lyricism. Never ones to succumb to the synthesizer route, they even turned down a record deal fromÂ former ITV1 presenter and the late Factory Records owner, Tony Wilson (who was responsible for fellow Manchester bands New Order and The Happy MondaysÂ amidst the Madchester scene) in turn for remaining independent and rejecting the sell-out route to fame.
But what many marvel at is The Smiths' astonishingly quick tenure. Whilst Margaret Thatcher's reign as Prime MinisterÂ and incessant closure of northern staple industriesÂ seemed a lifetime during the 80s, The Smiths' life faded pretty much soon after it started.
Although perhaps their failure for making it in to the mainstream and remaining together longer as a band was not only down to their internal politics, but their inability to conform to a niche market. Whilst one half of Manchester was the angst-ridden punk side which helped evolve its Synthpop sons, the other delved inÂ bopping to rave music in the dance halls of the Hacienda club in Manchester, on E's and gun crime. Neither category could ever fit perfectly with Morrissey and Marr, which perhaps ensured they were destined to become a cult musical taste.
Now though, who knows. Their jangly complexed melodies melded with laughable Morrissey vocals have always endeared them to the public. One #1 album and three #2 albums later, the future may resound brighter for the estranged figureheads of Morrissey and Marr, whilst Rourke and Joyce will continue to observe from the background.
Whilst Morrissey has become successful since the band's split in his solo career, Marr's fame came and went in the guitar-enhanced dance music supergroup, Electronic in the 90s with Sumner and Tennant.
So perhaps Marr needs this more than Morrissey does? Well, no Smiths fan would ever tell you that. Morrissey needs Marr's guitar, as much as Marr needs Morrissey's lyrics and that is what made the group successful as a whole. But rumours have ricocheted and have subsequently been quashed by both figurehead egos on previously numerous occasions, so who is to say this isn't just pure media fantasy?
What is for sure is that even if The Smiths do not reform, their influence and impact on the rock groups of today remains a seminal one, of which the majority of the new "indie" bands can be thankful for.