The Smiths

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

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Here we have the very first Smiths single in their two years of utter brilliance that wasn't a complete thrill to buy. The A-side is on Meat Is Murder, which is not their usual modus operandi, and that excusable fact is not helped by noting that all four B-sides are live versions of already-known songs -- none of which greatly furthers our already huge appreciation for the songs from the studio versions. It's not that "Nowhere Fast," "Stretch Out and Wait," "Shakespeare's Sister," and "Meat Is Murder" aren't good, and the Smiths have always been a good live band, but they lose some of the spiritual quality that their studio work always has. Which is why "Meat Is Murder" is the best of the lot, as that's the one angry song, so it actually does pick up an extra edge stomped on for a live crowd. But otherwise, if you don't buy this one, for the first time, you really haven't missed something great.

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