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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic In Depth Biography of THE SMITHS...
THE SMITHS were among the most influential bands of the nineteen eighties. Author Tony Fletcher does a wonderful job describing the origins of the band, their lightning-fast rise to prominence, and their demise a mere five years later.

Some might recall author Johnny Rogan's book about the Smiths from the mid-nineties with the same fondness as I do, and if you...
Published on 13 Sept. 2012 by Thomas Ferrie

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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but...
A weighty tome of 600 pages should be the last word. But Morrissey and Marr don't meet until 200 pages in, and it essentially finishes in 1987 after what is basically a straightforward­ narrative history. He bemoans the fact that There Is A Light wasn't a single, yet it was a posthumous release in the 90s. No mention of success or otherwise of Sound Of/Best Of/Singles...
Published 23 months ago by Pace Man


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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic In Depth Biography of THE SMITHS..., 13 Sept. 2012
By 
Thomas Ferrie (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
THE SMITHS were among the most influential bands of the nineteen eighties. Author Tony Fletcher does a wonderful job describing the origins of the band, their lightning-fast rise to prominence, and their demise a mere five years later.

Some might recall author Johnny Rogan's book about the Smiths from the mid-nineties with the same fondness as I do, and if you are among those who do you surely will enjoy reading A Light That Never Goes Out. Those who are familiar with the author will know that he has written two distinctly different types of musical biographies; short concise bios such as his Clash, Bunnymen and REM books, and complete compendium encyclopedic bios such as his Kieth Moon bio and his recent All Hopped Up book about the history of the music of NYC; this book falls into the latter category. Though some might criticize the book for being too long or diverging too far from the main theme, I found that his detailed description of Manchester and the early lives of Moz and Marr was insightful. I find it very interesting to try to understand where artists come from; what makes them who they are. Just as you can't understand The Ramones without understanding 60's pop & 70's NYC grittiness, it would be impossible to understand The Smiths without having the background that Tony does such a great job of relating. Maybe to some older readers who were around to have seen The Smiths and were teenagers during those years this all seems obvious, but 35 years later it is a history lesson for some that needs taught.

Once Tony gets through that essential and interesting background his descriptions of the Smiths Story as it happened (especially the American Tour which I always thought Rogan's book was lacking in good info) is well-written and fresh. Although it would have been wonderful to have had Morrissey's cooperation on this book (I would have loved to have learned more about what his early impressions of the US were on his trips as a teen...Tony touches on whether Moz got into CBGB...what about disco, graffiti etc...), the cooperation of Rourke and Marr lends to some great new quotes and insights which I'll leave to readers to find for themselves.

Personally I'd have loved for the story to continue,,,Fletcher is unapologetic about not writing much at all beyond the break up of the band in 1987,,,I understand. There are many, many people who unequivocally deny the importance of the post-Smiths careers of any of the members of THE SMITHS including Morrissey, so I guess Fletcher didn't want to enter into the fray of that age old argument...maybe he will feel the need to revisit Mozzer's carreer in twenty years? I hope so!

Overall, this book is a great read. I hope fans who buy it feel the same way I do...oh but then how could anybody possibly know how I feel.....

Great job Tony!
Tom Ferrie
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Story, 26 Oct. 2012
By 
Philip Gordon - See all my reviews
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Dear Boy: The Life of Keith MoonTony Fletcher has done it again. His amazingly thorough bio of Keith Moon, 'Dear Boy' was a fascinating portrait of the troubled drummer and a must for any Who fan. So much has been written on the Smiths since their demise, what's left to tell? When you think you know the whole story, Tony probes deeper and is able to get the people who were actually present to give us their inside insights. The chapter on the creation of 'How Soon Is Now' is a perfect example of how exciting he makes the it - you feel like you were present. At 600 plus pages, you really can't be a casual fan, but casual isn't an adjective applied to many Smiths fans anyway. The way Tony writes is also a cut above a lot of music journalists. I picked up another music bio after finishing 'A Light That Never Goes Out' (which shall remain nameless) and it's wooden prose was a a stark contrast. He makes the story of the Smiths so compelling I couldn't wait to continue reading whenever I left off. Well done!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The saga endures ..., 11 Nov. 2012
By 
Lawrence Mikkelsen (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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It's almost twenty years since I read Johnny Rogan's seminal tome, Morrissey and Marr: The Severed Alliance. In those pre-internet days, before the Smiths were an "institution" worthy of the covers of such traditionalist music papers as Mojo and Uncut, Rogan's tell all biography was a revelation. Up until then, everything I'd read about my beloved band had been assembled in snippets - an NME article here, a music encyclopaedia entry there. The fact that Morrissey called down a fatwa on the author only made the content seem more scandalous, and probably a little more believable too.

Two decades later, and as Tony Fletcher points out in the forward to his own book, there's been little else to compete, other than Simon Goddard's excellent trainspotter guides, Songs that Saved Your Life and Mozapedia, and more fan-orientated books like All Men Have Secrets. However, despite the paucity of books on The Smiths, there has been a shedload of magazine cover stories in the above-mentioned magazines, and the webisphere thrives with numerous comprehensive sites, some sublime, most ridiculous. Given the closed nature of Morrissey's inner circle, and the very pubic nature of Joyce and Rourke's legal issues with their ex-bandmates (or should that be employers?) I really had to wonder if there was much more to uncover.

So what does A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths offer? To a newcomer, it is an excellent and comprehensive history of the band, and to anyone who has read all of the above, not a lot more. Given the time that has passed since Rogan's (apparently tell-all) book, there seems little else to tell. There's no new scandals (other than Marr - older and wiser, no doubt - being far more forthright on the bands' drug use) and precious new information for those already initiated into the cult of Morrissey and Marr. Yes, the band was appallingly badly managed from the get-go. Yes, Morrissey had an increasingly annoying habit of failing to show for important appointments. Yes, Andy Rourke got fired for being on the gear and Craig Gannon got hired and fired with little in the way of acknowledgement or recompense. And that's pretty much the story, retold once more.

Tony Fletcher - an engaging and unfussy writer - is constantly at pains to point out just how young Marr was, and what a prodigy he was, with constant references to his age. (And, to this now-37 year old reviewer, it is quite amazing to consider that Marr wrote The Queen is Dead when he was only 23, and that the first two songs the duo wrote together were Reel Around the Fountain and Suffer Little Children.) Marr is clearly the hero of the book, and Morrissey remains something of an enigma throughout - he's certainly far less of a `character' or engaging presence than in Rogan's book. (One interesting point of omission is that of Morrissey's personal relationships. For all the people who want to "out" Morrissey, it's quite incredible that no one has ever come forward to dish any dirt of Morrissey's personal relationships, or lack thereof.) Another issue - and this is a problem of most rock biographies - is that the time spent on the formation of the band is hugely out of proportion to the latter part of their career. Both Marr and Morrissey view Strangeways ... as their masterwork, and Fletcher seems to agree, yet the sole chapter devoted to this album flies by far too quickly.

Whilst being a very thorough history of what actually happened, the frustrating thing about this book is that it's far less enlightening about the more nebulous nature of the band, and what made them such a phenomenon and why the immediately attracted such a fanatical following. Perhaps more oral history with the bands' fans might had aided in this endeavour? Or close access to Morrissey's inner circle. I'm really not sure. This is an engaging read, and I'd certainly recommend it, but I still feel the definitive history of The Smiths is yet to be written.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but..., 19 May 2013
A weighty tome of 600 pages should be the last word. But Morrissey and Marr don't meet until 200 pages in, and it essentially finishes in 1987 after what is basically a straightforward­ narrative history. He bemoans the fact that There Is A Light wasn't a single, yet it was a posthumous release in the 90s. No mention of success or otherwise of Sound Of/Best Of/Singles compilations. Other than saying that they happened, no coverage of the court case/Morrissey solo/­Marr's collaborations. In short, no real examination of the legacy. I would have thought the dust had settled enough by now to get some perspective. Where is the "enduring saga" of the subtitle? Appendices? No discography/­lyrics/chart listings. That information is all buried in the text and nightmarish to backtrack and find. 600 pages! In short it is, paradoxically, a must-read that is also ultimately disappointing. Could and should have been so much better!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If music be the food of love, play on., 11 Oct. 2012
What I enjoyed most about this book was that it has reintroduced me (and my kids) to a great time in British music. The Smiths albums have not been off loop now for a month, the kids are whistling along to What Difference Does It Make and singing about Double Decker Buses and Ten Ton Trucks. That shows the power of this band, the music was so darn good, and this book captures all the beauty of The Smiths in such a thoughtful and informative way, its an absolute pleasure to read. Its time the tale were told...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 April 2015
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This review is from: A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths (Paperback)
Arrived in three days very pleased item as described
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Charming Book, 25 Sept. 2012
As an avid fan of The Smiths I am always intrigued yet slightly worried when biographies are released. With something akin to hero worship my love for this band knows know bounds. If someone tries to vent or decry their brilliance I tend to turn my face awa in disguist and remove such negativity from my life.

Therefore, it was with trepidition that I opened A Light That Never Goes Out and settled into my comfy spot (the nook of the couch) with a cup of tea and a hotwater bottle and started to see what the author Tony Fletcher had to say; 600 plus pages later I was done. Wow.

Fletcher's account of the historical, musical and personal account of The Smiths was none other than magical. The reader becomes and omniscient observer of encounters that we, the fans, didn't get to witness. Fletchers florid narritive reads much like fiction but made all the more powerful knowing that these encounters, these recollections are true.

With care, attention to detail and an unashamed love for the band, Fletcher draws you in. The biogrpahy, whilst accurate, doesn't feel heavy with information and players in scenes. The people who were part of the story are spoken about and each become memorable in their own way.

For me, as a fan of The Smiths, this was an interesting account of a time in music when the story of a band was nearly equal to the magic of their music. The story of Morrissey, Marr, Rourke and Joyce is very much (as Fletcher puts it) enduring. This is a must read for fans of The Smiths.

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put simply, if there is only one book on your shelves, it should be this one, 14 Sept. 2012
Undoubtedly the most in-depth, atmospheric and accurate book I have ever read on the subject of "The Smiths". Atmospheric may appear to be a strange choice of words, for what in effect is an historical biography, but you become part of the atmosphere of the time.

For the first time you get a true sense of the personalities and formative years of the band members, what it is like to tour, the arguments and decision making of suddenly, and it really was sudden, of no longer being a shop assistant and part time musician, but being on the front pages of magazines that only a few months previously you were queueing up for at the shops, seeing your records in HMV window displays.

There have been some observations that this book doesnt cover the actual songs that much, but that has been done before, and when it comes down to it, music is totally subjective.

If you want a journalists impression of a Smiths song, these can be found in abundance, but if you actually want to become immersed in an ocean of Smithness, this is the book for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths (Paperback)
Great Seller will use again and again
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Second edition will be brilliant, 3 Oct. 2012
It's a great read if you care about the Smiths. The weight of material and detail may well be too much for anybody who isn't seriously bothered about the band. Research is very deep and thorough, and the writing evokes the 80s landscape well.

I hate that there are so many silly inaccuracies, though. Misquoting Smiths lyrics, getting names of people, places and albums wrong, etc. I know it's a pedant's quibble, but for a factual book it's discordant and it can have the unfortunate effect of causing you to doubt the robustness of the other material in there.
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A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths
A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths by Tony Fletcher (Paperback - 5 Sept. 2013)
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