Sound — 10
A compilation of Smiths singles and well-known tracks, The Sound Of The Smiths encompasses the band's entire catalogue to offer one of the better introductions to the band the uninitiated listener could hear. The CD is available in 1 and 2-disc formats, with a small differentiation in cover art (Morrissey is smiling on the 2-disc set, probably happy about me spending more). Despite that, I am an absolute fan of Johnny Marr's guitar playing and Morrissey's voice, however limited. Among the studio crafted perfections, live tracks are scattered over both discs and offer sonic examples of how aggressive The Smiths' could play in live situations, their songs stripped of their studio perfection and injected with the rawness and sincerity that made them popular originally among the Manchester scene.
Lyrics — 9
Morrissey can be hilariously miserable, startlingly accusative, and much before. His lyrics about misanthropy and shyness, criticism of the excesses of rock, and all-around humour have garnered fans for quite some time. Sometimes he may sound a little self-indulgent, but his style of self-deprecation often brings him back to reality. Morrissey often sings the same, but the fact that he always has something different to say brings you in every time. Some examples of his twisted humour are "Shakespeare's Sister" and "Heaven Knows... " while songs like "Meat Is Murder", "Barbarism Begins At Home", and "The Headmaster Ritual" deal with slightly more serious subject matter. I will always remember that memorable line from "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", "I was looking for a job and then I found one/And Heaven knows I'm miserable now."
Overall Impression — 8
I would much rather own The Smiths' actually discography, but some of their albums have proved hard to find in CD stores. I was a little disappointed that tracks like "You've Got Everything Now" and rarities like the Peel Sessions version of "This Charming Man" were left out. Still, the other rare versions and live tracks make up for this. Among the classics and obvious gold are some obscure tracks, but they're no less as good. Overall, both the 1 and 2-disc CD's are fairly good ways to start listening to The Smiths. After that, I'd recommend listening to "Hatful Of Hollow" and "Meat Is Murder" as well. My only gripe with the 1-disc version and the first disc of the double set is that the track listing is almost the same as the Louder Than Bombs compilation. If you ever see this and the Louder Than Bombs CD in a store, you're probably better off with the latter. That is unless you really want the live versions or the demos. That's probably more sought after by an intense fan.