I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I have been waiting YEARS for The Smiths catalog to be remastered and reissued. When Rhino released that two CD The Sound of The Smiths last year, I eagerly bought it. I already had 98% of the stuff on it, but after hearing, “digital remastering sessions overseen by Johnny Marr” I didn’t hesitate. Because the Smiths catalog, originally released on CD in 1990 sounds awful. And even if you find used vinyl versions at your favorite local record shop, their pretty flimsy and usually overpriced. So when I read that Warner was reissuing vinyl versions of The Smiths, Meat Is Murder, The Queen Is Dead and Strangeways, Here We Come I rejoiced. But according to NME, Morrissey is asking his fans to “not bother buying them.”
Now, for him to ask his die hard fans to refrain from buying something they’ve been eagerly awaiting forever, it must be pretty serious! Is it because the remastering was done by some poor studio slob with no reverence for the material he was working with? Wait, what? Johnny Marr oversaw the remastering of these too? Are these reissues flimsy, cheap records not worth the vinyl they’re pressed on? Oh – they’re 180 gram, audiophile grade vinyl? Ok then. Well, there must be a good reason then, right? Are they laced with anthrax and Morrissey is trying to save my life by changing my mind about buying them?
Um, no. It’s this:
"Morrissey also does not approve of, and was not consulted on … the Warner releases of Smiths LPs on 180 gramme vinyl. (He) last received a royalty payment from Warners ten years ago and, once again, he would ask people not to bother buying the reissued LPs…”
Okay, I’m all for artists getting paid for their work. I am, I am! But in this instance, I’m having a really, really hard time with the idea that I shouldn’t have these records because Morrissey won’t get paid for them. This is a man who’s been offered millions of dollars just to do ONE Smiths reunion show. His solo career is enough to keep any devoted fan totally broke trying to keep up with the singles, collections, deluxe versions, revisionist reissues, concert tickets, etc. I’ve managed to put more than a few dollars into Morrissey’s pocket over the years.
And frankly, as much as I would love to see him consulted on the reissues of these records, the fact that Johnny Marr was involved is good enough for me. Despite the fact that Mr. Marr’s output since the Smiths has been a constant source of musical disappointment for me, I still adore him and think he’s perfectly capable of overseeing these reissues. And what was it that Morrissey was credited with regarding The Sound of The Smiths? Oh right. The title. It's a really nice title Morrissey, don't get me wrong. Of course the four Smiths albums in questions already have titles, so you don't have to worry about that. And don't get me started on my concern that you'd want to change around song order, delete some tracks, add b-sides and completely redo the album covers. Not that you'd do that, right?But never fear- I've already bought one of your revisionist reissues, and I'll be buying the other as well. We are far from breaking up. But unless you're going to personally promise me that you will be hand delivering your own, far superior Smiths vinyl reissues straight to my door, I'll be buying those reissues as well. I hope you can understand.