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A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths Hardcover – Import, 6 Sep 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434020664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434020669
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[A] meticulous biography…This exhaustive, well-researched account brings fresh detail and thought to the party." (The Sunday Times)

"A finely judged re-telling of a remarkable tale with valuable first-hand accounts of the band’s American adventures, their rapid development into a wonderful live act, plus insights into the spiralling pressures and frictions that faced the individual band members." (Sabotage Times)

"An exhaustive labour of love that was three years in the writing but which will be lapped up by fans of the band...written with a real sense of love and affection for the group who, though they were only together for a mere five years, tilted the world on its axis to a degree not seen since the heyday of the Beatles and the Stones…Fletcher is excellent when it comes to widening the view to include the cultural and historical factors behind the band's emergence and the city from which they came." (Irish Independent)

"The story of the Smiths told on the basis of interviews with just about every surviving participant in the Smiths' story. As the story winds on, a chain of no-shows, fits of pique and self-sabotage ... reaches its denouement with an episode from April 1987, just prior to the band's formal break-up. Fletcher is the first writer to have got the full story. Such material highlights the extent to which Fletcher has done his research." (Guardian)

"Tony Fletcher’s account is a highly enjoyable way of revisiting [the] story. Crucially, he avoids areas well-served by other Smiths tomes and brings sufficient new material to reward even well-read fans…It’s a tale that’s been told before, but in his biography of the Manchester four-piece Tony Fletcher reveals new details and brings new depths to the story of Morrissey, Marr, Rourke, Joyce and the birth of the band." (Mojo)

Book Description

The first group biography of one of the greatest British bands of all time - The Smiths.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you read Morrisey's bleating autobiography you could be forgiven for thinking that The Smiths were Morrisey and Morrisey alone.
This book evens the playing field and emphasises Marr's incredible role along with the input of Rourke and Joyce.
The book is extremely well researched even if Moz didn't cooperate.
In fact, the band doesn't form until p210 so the rest is deep background on the players and their city - making it a book for devotees first and foremost!!
The break up is painfully chronicled and becomes inevitable all too soon.
Marr's frustration, Moz's narcissism and no management killed this beautiful creature in its prime.
The book does leave you feeling what could have been...although be thankful that Marr did knock on that door all those years ago....
PS- a personal favourite part of the book for me is the detailed description of the recording of "How Soon is Now"one of the greatest songs ever put to record.
Frankly Mr Fletcher...you are definitely NOT a flatulent pain in the ass!!!
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
The reputation of The Smiths as one of the very greatest pop groups seems to grow over time even as that of former frontman Morrissey becomes diminished with every predictable and increasingly sour outburst he comes out with against his well-worn targets of the establishment in general and the royal family in particular. Back in his group’s heyday he was able to successfully present himself as a startlingly fearless, witty and articulate figurehead for those many souls who found themselves disillusioned and depressed by the crass vulgarities of modern culture and the brutality of society’s institutions, both formal and vernacular. It was his genius for distilling this disdain and bewilderment into his lyrics, allied with the tireless talent for contriving surprising but always rigorously disciplined song structures of his musical partner Johnny Marr that made The Smiths’ body of work so penetrating and imperishable. To my ears at least they made every other group sound facile and irrelevant, and their continued refusal to reform only makes the music they recorded over a quarter of a century ago now seem even more special, even if the lack of reunion is due mainly down to bad blood between certain of the group’s members.

For The Smiths everything happened fast.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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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