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The Sound of the Smiths

Mancunian greats turn out definitive two-CD hits collection of live recordings, alternative takes and hard-to-find tracks

Rating: 10 / 10

Lauren Murphy, 19 Nov 2008

There have been several Smiths compilations released over the years – but less frequent are those with the blessing of both Morrissey and Johnny Marr. In fact, when details of this rarities/hits collection were originally announced, it was without the sanction of either – although the former eventually came on board to supply the title, and the latter to oversee the long-awaited re-mastering.

Forty-five tracks culled from the Mancunians’ back catalogue are spread across two discs here: the first showcasing singles and the more well-known and freely-available cuts from their songbook; the second, a sprinkling of live tracks, alternative takes and B-sides. The selection is pretty much spot-on, too; though there are several omissions that may irk the purists, the inclusion of the poppier Troy Tate demo of ‘Pretty Girls Make Graves’ alongside wonderful live accounts of ‘Meat Is Murder’, ‘Handsome Devil’ and James’s ‘What’s The World’, and several perfect, pinnacle-of-pop moments like ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’, ‘Jeane’ and ‘Sheila Take A Bow’ are simply a joy to behold.

For fans familiar with the genius of The Smiths, the pristine sharpness of these songs, as well as the hard-to-find tracks on offer, make it an essential purchase. For newcomers to the music that defined an era – and continues to influence the musical landscape to this day – The Sound Of The Smiths is a marvellous introduction to perhaps the greatest band of them all.

Rating: 10 / 10
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