Top critical review
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Musically brilliant, artistically worthless and cheapens the legacy
on 4 October 2008
The Smiths were the second best band of the Eighties and you should have their records. They were were inventive, witty, wildly misunderstood and possessed with a unique vision and aesthetic that stood them head and shoulders above almost every other band of their time. If you don't own any Smiths material, buy the 2 CD version of this and start here to enter a wider world.
But if you are familiar with The Smiths... then, honestly...what's the point? Why? After "The Best Of ...1", "The Best of....2", "The Very Best Of", "Singles", comes "The Sound Of The Smiths". The FIFTH best of compilation from a band that only made four official albums in their lifetime.
It's a disgrace to The Smiths and their legacy. It can't be that they need the money : The Smiths have sold a gazillion records. It can't be that the catalogue requires reappraisal : the band are huge and legendary. So... why is this coming out? Morrissey must be down to his last £8,000,000 or so.
I have no idea. If The Smiths had half a clue - and Morrissey / Marr appear to be working together to produce compilations, then where's the long delayed box set of rarities, demos, out-takes, and live recordings? What about the concerts recorded in Derby, Madrid, Oxford, Brixton in a respectful box set? What about a live album? (It has been 20 years since the last one). What about a Smiths live DVD of the filmed concerts from Paris, Hamburg, Barcelona ? What about ANYTHING other than a selection of songs we've already heard a thousand times over the last quarter century, packaged in a cheap sleeve last seen on The Peel Sessions cassette? What about a BBC compilation of concerts and radio sessions like almost every other band from that era has seen? Oh no. Don't dare give people any music they might not have heard before. Don't dare think about that. Just shovel the same old nonsense at them in a cheap, thoughtless sleeve, and throw together a `bonus' disc with a large number of missing tracks on.
The `limited edition' second CD edition contains most of the b-sides, though it is missing several songs live from the Oxford Apollo (taken from the "That Joke Isn't Funny 12"), and "The Draize Train" : but including 11 songs that have featured on the Smiths previous album catalogue. It defies sense.
Don't touch this with a bargepole. If you have to buy one Smiths compilation get this for the handful of rarer stuff on the 2nd CD. But if you've got their albums before, don't bother with this pitiful excuse for a compilation. Someone in charge ring up Warner Brothers and bang their heads together until they treat some of the greatest music ever recorded with the respect and importance it deserves. This sells everyone involved short and cheapens the art within.