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The Sound of the Smiths ()

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Depending on your count, The Sound of the Smiths is the third or fourth posthumous Smiths compilation -- a number that may be a bit excessive considering the group's rather concise catalog, containing just four studio albums and singles rounded up on three singles compilations (and two of those covered the same essential territory, too). That's a lot of repetition but whether it's taken in either its single-disc or double-disc deluxe editions, The Sound of the Smiths is the best of these posthumous overviews. The single-disc -- which is the first disc of the deluxe set -- is the hits disc, containing every cut from the 18-track 1995 compilation Singles and expanding it with five cuts all dating from the mid-'80s: "Still Ill," "Nowhere Fast," "Barbarism Begins at Home," "The Headmaster Ritual," and "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet Baby." As a Smiths-basics goes, it's first-rate, an introduction and summary that's compulsively listenable. The second disc on the deluxe The Sound of the Smiths splits the difference between a rarities compilation and a "more of the best" collection of album tracks, rounding up non-LP singles and B-sides like "Jeane," "Wonderful Woman," "Money Changes Everything," and the New York Vocal version of "This Charming Man," live versions of "Handsome Devil," "Meat Is Murder," "What's the World?" and "London," the Troy Tate demo of "Pretty Girls Make Graves," and a bunch of great Smiths songs including a hefty chunk of The Queen Is Dead. It falls short of being the long-awaited collection of Smiths rarities, the absence of which remains a mystery, but it's the best stab at one to date and a pretty entertaining listen in its own right. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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