April 2, 2009

Digging For Covers: Stars - This Charming Man

The Smiths are not my favorite band. Yes, my taste in contemporary music gravitates towards independent rock bands, but counter to popular belief, liking the Smiths is not a prerequesite. However, I always enjoy the sounds of Smiths' lead guitarist Johnny Marr. Even his collaboration with Modest Mouse on the recent We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank came out brilliant. His shimmering and high-energy leads feel like shots of pure joy—all with an instantly nostalgic flavoring.

Marr's most classic riff is on "This Charming Man." Paired with Morrissey's polished vocals and old-fashioned lyrics, the 1983 single is a simultaneously vulnerable and blissful track that captures the Smiths in the peak of their craft.

Montreal's Stars released a cover of the track on its 2001 debut album Nightsongs. It's a slower take that transfer's Morrissey's emasculated vocals to an almost whispered spoken word interpretation by the Stars' Torquil Campbell. This largely electronic version is sparse with just a bass, drum loop, and keyboards through the first verse and chorus, but when Marr's riff eventually emerges it does so with added weight and in a completely wide open space—perfect for a scenic drive through the country.

Buy the Stars: Amazon
Buy the Smiths: Amazon


  1. this charming man: clever. haunting. great groove. I can definitely see this, over and over, on a groovy curvy road somewhere. I love it.

  2. man this is catchy. I have it just playing on repeat.