The Smiths - Rank (1986) (2006)

The Smiths - Rank (1986) (2006)

Recorded live by the BBC at the National Ballroom, Kilburn, England on 23rd October 1986 during The Smiths' "The Queen Is Dead" tour, "Rank", the only officially released live concert, has many drawbacks, most of which could have been avoided. But first, the plus points:There's a nice mix of songs, albeit predominately from their later years. There's the catchy ones, such as "Panic", "Ask", "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side", as well as those which reward perseverance, such as "Rusholme Ruffians" and "I Know It's Over".The Smiths were often bootlegged, but the sound quality on "Rank", despitemore… sounding a bit tinny and confined, is better than you will find on almost all of them, probably only with the exception of their performance at The Apollo Theatre, Oxford, England on 18th March 1985 (also recorded by the BBC, and has been broadcast on radio in the past, so watch out for it).Now the negative points:This is not the complete concert! "I Want The One I Can't Have", "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out", "Shakespeare's Sister", "Frankly, Mr. Shankly", "Never Had No One Ever", "Meat Is Murder" and "How Soon Is Now?" were all played at this concert, so why oh why aren't they here?Morrissey's harmless comments during the show have also been cut. These would add nicely to the atmosphere, so once again, why aren't they here?Finally, I expect any officially released live concert to have a seamless changing between tracks (even if a concert has been edited, it's still do-able). For the most part, the track changes are pretty seamless, but, in the middle of the CD, there's a fade-out then a fade-in between tracks, which really destroys the continuation - was this really necessary?!Conclusion: "Rank" is the only official way to hear The Smiths live, which, for all its faults, makes it essential. Alternatively, you could watch out for the full "Rank" concert to be broadcast on radio, as it has been in the past (including recently on the digital BBC Radio 6).

For many Smiths fans, Rank is as close as they will get to a live performance from Morrissey, Johnny Marr, and company. Recorded live at The National Ballroom in London in October of 1986, roughly six months before they disbanded altogether, these 14 songs capture the Smiths performing in full-on rock-star mode. Though Grant Showbiz's production and engineering work consistently places Morrissey's voice too loud in respect to the rest of the band, the performance is suitably epic, hit-packed, and engrossing. Morrissey is in fine form, randomly trilling and squawking throughout, providing enough cocky banter and personality that the fact that he's nearly out of breath for half the performance doesn't put a damper on the festivities. Highlights abound: the opening shot of "The Queen Is Dead" bristles with emotion and post-punk fury; "Vicar in a Tutu" sees an energized Morrissey employing interesting, bizarre vocal inflections and a series of endearing growls; "I Know It's Over" is perhaps more harrowing and brittle here than anywhere else in the band's discography, as Morrissey surrenders to emotion while the soil falls over his head. It's hard to tell if Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke were having their best nights, since their contributions are buried deeper in the mix than would seem appropriate. Somehow, Johnny Marr's distinctive, manic jangle manages to escape the production and demand attention, especially on his solo creation "The Draize Train." Still, one has to wonder why "The Draize Train" was included over such staples as "How Soon Is Now," "I Want the One I Can't Have," and the eight other songs that were recorded during the concert but not included on the album. Perhaps they weren't seen as worthy representations, but there is certainly additional time left available on the CD edition, where at least two or three more songs could have been added. It really would be interesting to see how the band tackled "Meat Is Murder," "How Soon Is Now," and "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" that night. Absolute completists might want to track down the bootleg recording ...The Bad Boy From a Good Family, which presents the National Ballroom concert in a more complete light. Rank is an essential part of any Smiths fan's collection, and it's an enlightening live peek at a foursome who many deem the greatest band of the 1980s, and more than a few others deem the last great band period. ~ Tim DiGravina

320 @
128 MB


01 The Queen Is Dead (Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty) 4:13
02 Panic 3:06
03 Vicar in a Tutu 2:33
04 Ask 3:21
05 Rusholme Ruffians 3:55
06 The Boy with the Thorn in His Side 3:48
07 What She Said 3:43
08 Is It Really So Strange? 3:44
09 Cemetry Gates 3:09
10 London 2:19
11 I Know It's Over 7:47
12 The Draize Train 4:26
13 Still Ill 4:10
14 Bigmouth Strikes Again 5:51

No comments: