It's really serious. The Smiths probably have the messiest catalogue there is. Around two thirds of their songs appear on the four studio albums while the remaining third are scattered across several compilations and rare CD-singles. Warner, unlikeEMI, have never been interested in milking a catalogue (or creating coherent and necessary reissues).
Looking through the dozen or so titles down your local retailer, the racks are clogged up with no less than four "greatest hits" collections and three rarities sets. These really need to be consigned to the bargain bin so they can be replaced with more streamlined compilations that would supplement the albums with at least some degree of logic: all the non-album songs (with a vocal) would fill a CD. Add to that a second disc of instrumentals, alternative versions, and live b-sides and you have a superlative two-disc set. A CD of BBC sessions is also required.
And so to the Rhino 45-track "The Sound Of The Smiths": judging by the title and cover photo of the group themselves, this was not sanctioned by Morrissey and Marr. The first disc is a chronological run-through their "greatest hits" with a couple of slightly different versions thoughtfully substituted. But the perfectly titled andartworked "Singles" from 1995 was the definitive best-of for all time, comprising every A-side in chronological order.
The second disc presents an alternative view of The Smiths career, digging deeper and throwing up some rarities in the process: the live version of "Handsome Devil" and the Troy Tate produced version of "Pretty Girls Make Graves" appear on CD for the very first time; while "Jeane", "Wonderful Woman" and the live James cover "What's The World?" have at last been compiled. You'll still have to buy the "Panic" CD single if you want to hear the studio version of "The Draize Train". And locate the US CD-single of "Sweet And Tender Hooligan" to find "I Keep Mine Hidden" and "Work Is A Four Letter Word".
The catalogue of what many regard as the greatest musical force since The Beatles remains still ill.