The Smiths lasted only five years, but their influence is immeasurable.

They released four proper albums during their lifetime, but for our list of the Smiths Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness, we've included a pair of compilations that belong in every fans' collections: Hatful of Hollow, originally a U.K. release that collected a few recent singles and BBC sessions, and Louder Than Bombs, which gathered non-album songs for U.S. listeners.

Because they weren't around too long, the Smiths, unlike so many of their peers, didn't have a chance to become boring. Every single one of their albums is an essential chapter in their history. And like any great band, the Smiths -- particularly singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, the songwriting team behind almost all of their songs -- grew as they progressed.

Morrissey got funnier, and more miserable, and Marr became more innovative. And their albums became more focused and rewarding as the '80s progressed. Even their last one, 1987's Strangeways, Here We Come, shaded its songs in some new colors that hinted at promising directions for a future that never came.

Their legacy continued, in varying degrees, in Morrissey's solo career and the string of artists (Modest Mouse, Pet Shop Boys, the Pretenders) Marr has aligned himself with since the Smiths' breakup in 1987. But their greatest achievements were made during their short half-decade together.

So while the below list of the Smiths Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness gives you a starting point, there really isn't a bad record in their discography, which befits one of the greatest indie-rock bands of all time.

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