There Is a Band that Never Goes Away; The Smiths Launch Another Greatest Hits Collection

It's one thing to flog a dead horse. It's a whole other matter to scoop up that dead horse's remains, jerky them, then cobble them together repeatedly for a voracious dried meat-eating, music-buying public. Obviously, if the dead horse is beloved British indie-pop band The Smiths, it appears anything is fair play in the repetitious compilation game (and no, don't worry Smiths fans, we would never insinuate that any of you would ever be caught eating horse meat...).

If anyone should be afforded some leeway with flogging its recorded legacy it may as well be The Smiths. In addition to being ridiculously influential, they were a unique brand who tended to treat every record as important, as opposed to putting out singles with throwaway B-sides merely to sell albums. Consequently, many of their greatest songs did not get automatic placement on regularly-released albums. The Smiths also went through unbelievably prolific periods that produced a slew of classic tracks (I seem to recall an old Select Magazine interview with Johnny Marr in which he tells of writing the music for "This Charming Man," "Still Ill," and "Pretty Girls Make Graves" in one night, with Morrissey penning lyrics for all three the next day!). It is worth everyone's time to own at least one Smiths collection and, fully aware of this fact, Rhino will throw its hat into the ring, also knowing full well that Hatful of Hollow, Louder Than Bombs, The World Won't Listen, The Best of The Smiths, Vol. 1, The Best of The Smiths, Vol. 2, Singles, and The Very Best of The Smiths have already been released. The latest rush and a push is called Hang the DJ: The Very Best of The Smiths, and it will be released October 7 in both single- and double-disc versions.

Smiths fanatics will already have everything on these two discs but will undoubtedly pick up the album for the cover art alone. New recruits primed to pray at the feet of Morrissey and Marr will delight in Hang the DJ's indie anthems, including a small smattering of (mostly previously released) curios: the outstanding "Jeane," ("This Charming Man" B-side, later covered by Billy Bragg), "Money Changes Everything" ("Shoplifters of the World Unite" instrumental B-side, later used by Johnny Marr on Bryan Ferry’s "The Right Stuff"), and "I Keep Mine Hidden" ("Girlfriend in a Coma" B-side and the last song The Smiths ever recorded). There are also a number of live tracks, including a cover of "What’s the World" by fellow thoughtful Mancunians James.

These tracklistings aren’t funny anymore:

Disc One:

1. Hand in Glove
2. Reel Around the Fountain
3. This Charming Man
4. What Difference Does it Make
5. Still Ill
6. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now
7. William, It Was Really Nothing
8. How Soon Is Now?
9. Shakespeare’s Sister
10. Barbarism Begins at Home
11. That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
12. The Headmaster Ritual
13. The Boy With the Thorn in His Side
14. Bigmouth Strikes Again
15. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
16. Panic
17. Ask
18. You Just Haven’t Earned it Yet Baby
19. Shoplifters of the World Unite
20. Sheila Take a Bow
21. Girlfriend in a Coma
22. I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish
23. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

Disc Two:

1. Handsome Devil (Live)
2. Jeane
3. This Charming Man (New York vocal)
4. Back to the Old House
5. These Things Take Time
6. Girl Afraid
7. Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
8. Oscillate Wildly
9. Stretch Out and Wait
10. Meat Is Murder (Live in Oxford)
11. Asleep
12. Money Changes Everything
13. The Queen Is Dead
14. Vicar in a Tutu
15. Cemetary Gates
16. Half a Person
17. Sweet and Tender Hooligan
18. I Keep Mine Hidden
19. Pretty Girls Make Graves (Troy Tate version)
20. Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before
21. What’s the World (Live in Glasgow)

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