I remember hearing The Smiths back in college when they had first come out, but since I was already deep into my avant-garde jazz I never paid all that much attention to them aside from noting the catchy jangly tunes. Later when my (future) wife and I started dating, I discovered that she was a big fan of The Smiths and had a bunch of their stuff on tape.
Fast forward twenty-something years and we still listen to those same tapes and vinyl and a few digital songs I bought years ago and occasionally come across songs on Slacker. But a month or so ago my wife had ‘November Spawned a Monster’ by Morrissey in her head so I hit up MOG and there was some album that was a wonderful ‘greatest hits’ style collection. Then last week she was singing ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ and asked me to find that collection again. Naturally it was gone … so I had to manually add tracks from ‘Sound of the Smiths’ to a new playlist … and finally said ‘Enough’! I had seen that guitarist Johnny Marr had worked on remastering the classic tapes … and it was time to have the music readily available.
There are eight CDs in the collection: the four studio albums(The Smiths (1984), Meat Is Murder, The Queen Is Dead (1986), and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)), the live album Rank, and three compilations released while the band were still together (Hatful Of Hollow (1984), The World Won’t Listen (1987) and Louder Than Bombs (1987)).
For me, the main things about a collection like this are the sound quality and completeness of the collection. The sound is definitely at least a bit brighter and louder than the older versions I have on tape/vinyl/128k digital. It is also clearer, has better stereo separation and presence for the instruments, and the drums and bass shine through like never before.
In terms of completeness, there is just a ton of stuff. The Smiths were brimming with creativity during the mid-80s and put out loads of singles between their main albums, so it is great to get the collections as part of the overall package.
That said, the interest for my wife in particular was with songs she knew and liked, which largely meant the four main albums plus a couple of singles. The rest of it made for good background music as we were doing yardwork this weekend, but as you can imagine eight hours of shuffled music by a single group can get to be a bit much.
For my wife I have already trimmed down a collection of about an hour and a half that has everything she wants and put it on her iPod. We have everything else if she needs it – and it sounds better than ever.
The Smiths are a true classic of the 80s – great songs, excellent performances, great juxtaposition of jangly pop tunes and dark thematic lyrics. They have stayed popular through the years due to the power and quality of their songs, and now with this collection the music sounds better than ever!
Here is the trailer for the collection.
And here is a great fan video from the concert later turned into the album Rank, featuring the song Panic:
Also, Bigmouth Strikes Again:
And finally, How Soon is Now – a classic song re-popularized in service of the TV show ‘Charmed':