1. Hatful Of Hollow (1984)/ Louder Than Bombs (1987)
The Smiths were unquestionably able to create great, coherent full-length albums, but the sheer magnitude of their brilliant, brief run is captured best on these collections of their many estimable singles. The startling range and diversity demonstrated on Louder Than Bombs represents nothing so much as a songwriting masterclass — from the T. Rex-biting rocker “Panic” to the winsome, consoling “Ask” to the savage indictment “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby,” this is the full playbook on display. Marr showcases like the vaguely rockabilly-twinged “Shakespeare’s Sister” and the riff-heavy “Shelia Take A Bow” cast into bold relief a scintillating and unique player, whose diverse talents mesh perfectly with his singer. Hatful Of Hollow contains 10 of the same tracks as Louder Than Bombs, but also a handful of other terrific recordings which make owning both items a virtual, if maddening, necessity. So it was with the Smiths: enthralling, frustrating, and sown in confusion. What would we ever have ever done without them?