Johnny Marr's Top 10 Most Unexpected Musical Moments
As the rain falls hard on this (occasionally) humdrum town, fans of the Smiths have reason to rejoice! This week, Mr. Johnny Marr announced a Fort Lauderdale date on his impending U.S. tour.
While Marr is best known as Morrissey's former songwriting foil in the Smith's, the guitarist's keene sense of melody and unexpected guitar textures have become as synonymous with the band's sound as Morrissey's ever-so-dramatic croon and pomp. Johnny Marr is considered by many to be the ultimate guitar anti-hero, circumventing the raucous distortion and over-the-top fretboard athletics that marked guitar trends in the '80s to forge a sound uniquely his own.
Marr has had a far more prolific career than many fans may realize, stemming far deeper than his integral part in crafting those world-shaking Smiths albums. In fact, Marr has provided his services as a guitarist, songwriter, and sideman for so many other acts since his time with the Smiths, that we have decided to put together a list of some of our favorite tracks from Marr's storied career in celebration of the show announcement. Enjoy!
10. The Pretenders - "Windows of the World"
Marr was a member of the Pretenders for a period in the latter half of 1987, touring with the group and performing on the single "Windows of the World." Marr's unmistakable style was an ideal fit for the band as it harkened back to the mod-informed jangle of the group's late guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott. However, Marr's tenure with the band would prove a short one.
9. Oasis - "Better Man"
Legend has it that Marr was courted a few times to join as a full-fledged member of Brit-Pop titan, Oasis. However, there isn't a ton of info out there to quantify those claims. Regardless, Marr has collaborated with the brothers Gallagher frequently, and this track in particular features some very "How Soon is Now" guitar playing and some of Marr's backing vocals.
8. Electronic - "Feel Every Beat"
So you dig the Smiths and you tell everyone via your Tumblr photos that New Order is totally your favorite shit ever? This is Electronic, and if you were unaware that Marr had a longstanding collaborative project with Bernard Sumner, you're faking the funk.
7. The The - "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)"
The The has gone through a myriad of personnel arrangements, with close to 100 collaborators having orbited around main-man Matt Johnson since the group's inception in the late 1970s. Marr was involved for two of the group's most popular albums, including one of our personal favorites, Mind Bomb.
6. Talking Heads - "Nothing But Flowers"
Marr worked as a collaborator on a smattering of Talking Heads albums, which is something that is apparently a coming of passage for guitarists with an artistic bend and a unique sound as David Byrne has also collaborated with the likes of Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, and most recently Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent).
5. Modest Mouse - "Florida"
Marr -- a former and longtime resident of Portland, Oregon -- was courted by Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock to help write and produce an album in 2006. The pairing worked so well that Marr joined the band as a full-fledged member and subsequently enjoyed his first ever #1 record in the United States with We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.
4. The Healers - "The Last Ride"
The Healers were Marr's attempt to put together a band of his own on the proper, rather than contributing to the art of others. The group was meant to come together in an organic way, with members chosen based on "chemistry" rather than fame.
3. The Cribs - "We Share the Same Skies"
Marr met the Cribs during a chance encounter in Portland, and was eventually asked to join the group. Marr displayed just how far from jaded and potentially removed from his own legend he is by accepting the young British band's offer, again proving just how much a bit of the ole' Marr jangle can do to accentuate a good song.
2. Johnny Marr featuring Ronnie Wood - "How Soon Is Now?"
Alright, it'd be weird if we didn't include Marr's signature track in this list. Rather than use the version recorded by the Smiths, we're going with this sort of odd live performance of the song featuring Ron Wood wailing over Marr's iconic tremolo-quavering guitar riff. How awkward.
1. Johnny Marr - "New Town Velocity"
Here is where we bring you up to date with the freshly released official video for "New Town Velocity," a track off Marr's first fully realized solo release, the Messenger.
Johnny Marr, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 26, Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25. Visit cultureroom.net.
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