The Smiths

The Boy with the Thorn in His Side

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Nothing, it seems, can slow the greatness this band has shown over two LPs and a whole bunch of singles these last two years, most of them non-LP. "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side" is of course great as well, just another feather in a jeweled cap, but even better, we return to the Smiths' tradition of precious non-LP gems (remember, "How Soon Is Now" was first released as a B-side) in the form of the pulsing and scintillating "Rubber Ring" (among their best B-sides ever in an album's worth already) and the lullaby-ish "Asleep." The former pokes some affectionate fun at the relationship between uber fan and artist, and the sometimes overly fickle nature of it, set to a galloping skip rhythm with the slightest tinge of glam, as Morrissey tells "Don't forget the songs that made you cry/And the ones that saved your life." Great. We know what he means. And the other song is more of an "I've given up on life" feel, more empathetic than morbid, which is a tough trick that they've managed yet again.

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