“The Sound of the Smiths” is an extensive collection of the Smiths’ greatest hits, with 23 of its better-known tracks on the first disk and an impressive collection of 22 lesser-known (but equally good) B-sides and live versions on the second disk.
The spectrum of emotions the Smiths has dealt with in its music is all covered in this album, from the slow and downright depressing songs (“Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”) to the jaunty and almost happy songs (“Cemetery Gates”). One thing to be sure of is that this is a greatest hits album that has all the greatest hits.
The Smiths remain one of the most important and influential bands to emerge from Britain in the ’80s, paving the way for future alternative rock bands. Combining ’60s rock with post-punk and elements of dance pop, the band’s unique, basic sound has influenced such bands as Blur, Oasis and Belle and Sebastian, to name a few.
Perfectly coupled with the sprightly instrumentals is the crooning voice of lead singer Morrissey, lending his glum yet darkly funny lyrics to the songs. Even when the subject material about loneliness and alienation strikes a more serious nature, the quality and sophistication of the songwriting prevents the songs from being dismissed as angst-ridden “emo.”
In one of many examples of this morbid tone, Morrissey facetiously croons in “Nowhere Fast,” “And if the day came / When I felt a natural emotion / I’d get such a shock / I’d probably jump in the ocean.” It is this dark sense of humor colliding with the dance-punk-pop beats that are the main ingredients of this sound of the Smiths.
For diehard Smiths fans, most of the songs will be familiar, with the exception of B-sides such as “Jeane,” “Wonderful Woman,” “Money Changes Everything” and “What’s the World?” that are included on the second disc of the deluxe edition.
As for the claim that all the tracks have been remastered, the difference is hardly noticeable, if there is any. For those who are not familiar with the Smiths and enjoy British rock from the ’80s and the ’90s, this CD is highly recommended.