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Alternative & Indie - Released June 26, 2001 | WM UK

Distinctions The Absolute Sound: Best Reissued Releases Of The Year
First off, no, this box set doesn’t contain the Complete Smiths, not even in its super-deluxe edition containing vinyl replicas of the group’s singles and LPs. Stray B-sides don’t appear here, nor do the scrapped sessions for the first album and a few other heavily bootlegged numbers, but what is here are sterling remasters -- allegedly supervised by Johnny Marr -- of the band’s four albums, three compilations, and lone live album, all released during the band’s exceedingly brief lifespan. What matters is that the remastering is exceptional, the best comparison being the Beatles 2009 remasters, where layers of grime seemed to be removed from familiar recordings, so the songs sounded vibrant and alive, yet didn’t sound tweaked, buttressed, or burnished for a new millennium. That is what makes The Complete Smiths essential: no surprises in terms of material, but the presentation is exquisite, sounding familiar and fresh, a stunning re-presentation of records that were teetering on the edge of over-familiarity. Guitars and vocals pop equally, the original mixes simply brightened, a task harder to achieve than it is to imagine, the music sounding part of its time yet easily transcending it. Far from a vulgar picture, this is what Smiths fans have been waiting years for. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo