(intro: "Romeo & Juliet": Philadelphia Orchestra)
The Queen Is Dead
Vicar In A Tutu
Rusholme Ruffians/(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
What She Said/Rubber Ring
Is It Really So Strange?
I Know It's Over
The Draize Train
Bigmouth Strikes Again
(exitus: "You'll Never Walk Alone" Shirley Bassey)
UK CD [Rough Trade ROUGHCD126]
UK CS [Rough Trade ROUGHC126]
UK LP [Rough Trade ROUGH126]
UK LP [Rough Trade ROUGH126L (with poster)]
UK DAT [Rough Trade ROUGHDAT126]
UK/Europe CD [2012 reissue on Warner/Rhino 2564660481]
UK/Europe 2-LP [2012 reissue on Rhino Records 2564665883]
Argentina CD [2012 WEA/Warner Music Argentina 2564-66048-1]
Australia CD [Rough Trade (CBS) 462408-2]
Australia CD [1988 reissue on Festival D30225]
Australia CD [1993 reissue on Warner Australia 450991900-2]
Australia CS [CBS 462408-4]
Australia CS [1988 reissue on Festival C30225]
Australia LP [CBS 462408-1]
Australia LP [1988 reissue on Festival L30225]
Benelux/Germany CD [Megadisc MDC7900/RTDCD90]
Brazil CS [Stiletto 723.4003]
Brazil LP [Stiletto 230.4003]
Canada CD [Sire CD-25786]
Canada CS [Sire 92 57864]
Canada CS [Columbia House W4 25786; record club edition]
Canada LP [Sire 92 57861]
Europe CD [WEA 450991900-2]
Europe CS [WEA 450991900-4]
Europe 10 [WEA 450991900-1]
France CD [Virgin 30630]
France CS [Virgin 50630]
France LP [Virgin 70630]
Germany LP [Rough Trade RTD90]
Greece CS [Virgin VG50380]
Greece LP [Virgin VG50380]
Holland LP [Megadisc MD7900]
Indonesia CS [?? C-3169]
Indonesia CS [Sony/CBS C-2760989]
Ireland(?) CS [Rough Trade ROUGHC126]
Israel CS [CBS Israel ROUG 126-4]
Israel LP [CBS Israel ROUG 126]
Italy LP [CGD/Rough Trade RGH20859]
Italy LP [Rough Trade ROULP 126]
Italy CS [CGD/Rough Trade 30RGH20859]
Italy CD [Rough Trade CDROUG126]
Japan CD [Victor VDP-1356]
Japan CD [1990 reissue on Victor VICP-2008]
Japan CD [1993 reissue on WEA WMC5-549]
Japan CD [1995 reissue on WEA WPCR-308]
Japan CD [2006 reissue on WEA WPCR-12445]
Japan CS [Victor VCL-10049]
Japan LP [Victor VIL-28126]
Philippines CS [Rough Trade/Backbeat ROUGHC126]
Poland CS [Music market 0592]
Portugal LP [Transmedia ROUGH126]
Saudi Arabia CS [Thomsun Original EN-2561]
Saudi Arabia CS [Michael/7Rock 1280]
Spain CS [Nuevos Medios 44 333 C]
Spain LP [Nuevos Medios 43 332L]
Sweden CD [MNW ROUGHCD126]
Sweden LP [MNW ROUGH126]
Taiwan CS [Crystal ROUGH C126]
Thailand CS [Musicals MSC.967]
Thailand CS [Peacock 3463]
Thailand CS [CD-4 PR-848]
USA CD [Sire 9 25786-2]
USA CD [Columbia House W2 25786; record club edition]
USA CD [BMG Direct D111943; record club edition]
USA CD [2012 reissue on Sire/Rhino R2 25786]
USA CS [Sire 9 25786-4]
USA CS [Columbia House W4 25786; record club edition]
USA LP [Sire 9 25786-1]
USA LP [Columbia House W1 25786; record club edition]
All tracks recorded live at National Ballroom in Kilburn, 23rd October 1986. 21 songs were originally performed, 14 of these are found here. Read concert information.
A limited version of the UK LP included a poster (ROUGH126L; view left).
The 2006 Japanese cd reissue is slipped inside a mini-replica of the original Victor Japan LP sleeve. Even the inner sleeve, obi and label are replicas of the ones from the original LP pressing. The sleeve has the same "Includes poster" sticker on the front as the limited edition UK LP, and a smaller version of that poster inside.
The 2012 UK/Europe Rhino reissues on compact disc and LP are identical to the editions found inside the 2011 "Complete" box set.
Morrissey was originally going to title the album "In Heat".
Alexandra Bastedo taken from the book "Birds Of Britain" (John D. Green Studios). The backs of the cd and lp formats show a detail of the front photo. The cd booklet includes the front photo in different brownish tints and a close-up of the flower. The cassette and DAT inserts also show the front artwork in alternate colours.
A photo of fans fighting for a piece of Morrissey's shirt is seen inside the gatefold lp and inside the cd booklet. The photo was taken by photographer Ian Tilton at G-Mex on 19 July 1986. A photo of Morrissey and Marr on stage at the Jobs For A Change Festival in June 1984 appears on the inner sleeve.
View all of this on the left. The artwork for the 2006 Japanese cd reissue in mini-LP sleeve follows the LP model instead of the cd one.
Etchings on vinyl:
UK LP: PEEPHOLISM / none
(only on original Rough Trade release, not on the WEA reissue)
Additional release date information:
UK: 5 September 1988
USA/Canada: 13 September 1988
UK/Europe WEA re-release: 15 November 1993
Australia WEA 1993 re-release: 12 December 1993
Japan WEA 1993 re-release: 10 December 1993
Japan WEA 2006 re-release: 13 September 2006
UK 2012 reissues: 26 March 2012
USA 2012 cd reissue: 3 April 2012
Chart peak information:
UK: Gold on 28 September 1988
UK: The main means of promotion of this album was through white label copies of the LP format. Stock copies of the LP paired with a press release were also distributed. A promo kit including a counter stand, a poster, a postcard and reversed sticker saying "Just when you thought it was safe to buy the bootleg" were sent to record shops at the time of release. The September 1988 issue of industry music paper The Catalogue included a flexi featuring the live version of "London" from this album, thus serving indirectly as a promotional tool.
Australia: Stock copies were made into promos by being stamped in gold on the back of the sleeve with the promo warning "Promotion only not for sale".
Brazil: Promo copies of the LP are stock ones stamped in gold with the promo warning "amostra invendavel" on the back.
Canada: Copies of the LP with a promo warning gold-stamped on the back of the sleeve were used for promotion.
Greece: Copies of the LP format were stamped with a promo warning in Greek on the label.
Israel: Promo copies are stock ones with a promo sticker on the back of the sleeve. The sticker has a promo warning in Hebrew and English.
Japan: Promotion of the original release was done via promo LPs and promo CDS. The former have a red promo sticker around the top right edge of the sleeve and the usual extra 3-character promo text printed on the label while the latter, just like the 1990, 1993 (and possibly 1995) reissues, have a promo sticker on the case or obi, and promo text on the cds' inner ring. The promo cd for the 2006 reissue in LP-replica sleeves have a white and red promo sticker on the back and 'sample loaned' etched on the cd's inner ring.
Spain: An A4 pink portfolio containing a press sheet and 4 pages of lyrics in Spanish was slipped inside stock LPs to be dispatched for promotion of this album.
USA: Promo-stamped copies of the LP were the main means of promotion of this album. More limited promotion was done with the help of an advance cassette (Warner WB-25786). Live version of "Ask" and "Cemetry Gates" from this album were included on a various artists promo cassette titled "Back To School Cassampler" (PRO-C-3267). A live version of "What She Said" from this album was included on a various artists promo cd titled "WBR New Music Report" (PRO-CD-3339). A one-track promo video with a live version of "Ask" was also sent to the relevant media.
"This was recorded by the BBC for the Auntie Pong Show and bits of it were broadcast... in... the late Sixties... or whenever it was. It is used because it is available and good... very good, although there were brighter moments."
- Morrissey, The Catalogue, 1988
"It's very good so I'm quite pleased... none of those songs will ever be heard again."
- Morrissey, NME, 13 February 1988
"Recorded two years earlier on their final tour, this Kilburn National live set captures The Smiths in their troubled, pre-split period with extra guitarist Craig Gannon on board. A polished, hard-rocking stack of tunes mostly culled from The Queen Is Dead, but the overlapping twin guitars iron out much of Marr's vituoso elegance." (****)
- Stephen Dalton, Uncut, 1998
"Live LP's rarely work. 'Rank' does. It captures The Smiths during their most creative period, playing their music with speed, passion and ferocity - three qualities the band possessed that were so often overlooked. For those of you seeking a reformation it will only make matters worse and it's a recording of rare raw talent."
- NME, naming 'Rank' the 22nd best LP of 1988
"In Manchester this summer, the first Smiths convention in held, efforlessly attracting thousands of the faithful. In London the New Musical Express tirelessly trumpets ever emergent possibility of a Smiths reunion, each wafer of dubious information a certain sales booster. From elsewhere in the country, the Daily Mirror finds and runs a news-story in which a mother blames The Smiths for the suicide of her teenaged son ('He jumped in front of a train... There were Smiths records in his collection").
Little over a year after their exeunt, this force that we call The Smiths and their journey into the annals of immortality and cultural infamy continue ever upwards, categorically unstoppable. Their parting left a chillingly large hole in the pop landscape - one no rival act has shown even the vaguest dint of flair in helping to fill, and one, more urgently, that our Morrissey is having difficulty in supplanting, with his rather 'speculative' solo work this year. This is understandable, really. The Smiths were a phenomenon, after all, and like all other departed of their ilk, their very absence orchestrates an ever-spiralling 'appreciation' of the same.
Further orchestration will doubtless ensue with the availability this September of Rank, the much-anticipated live album, recorded almost two years ago during the group's final tour. First and foremost, like all The Smiths' records, Rank is a 'statement'. I mean, who else in this age of compulsory technology would dare release, as their one and only live album, an undoctored tape of a single live show already broadcast on BBC Radio 1? Some may accuse them of sloth and abject indifference to the desires of their fans (more later), yet The Smiths have always been committed to presenting their music in as 'unadorned' a way as possible, and Rank, after all, simply takes that attitude to its 'warts and all' conclusion.
So - what's it like? Well, it's good enough, good enough. Rank, you see, is mostly, unabashedly, hard rock, a fact that will undoubtedly surprise many detractors who never heard them live.
By 1986, the Morrissey-Marr partnership, having already well-founded The Smiths' archetypal plangent style, seemed bent on usurping a more orthodox rock backdrop for Morrissey's lyrical persona to niftily subvert. This was apparent from much on The Queen Is Dead album and, particularly, the release of 'Panic'.
The former's title track kicks off proceedings (after an opening salvo of Prokofiev piped over the PA as introduction) as a bracing exercise in punk clamour, Johnny Marr's scowling wah-wah guitar inflections underscoring Morrissey's scathing political burlesque of a lyric. This is immediately, noticeably bravura, not that silly shallow stuff which begat the term 'rockist', but the real article; music hard, charged and self-possessed, answerable only to themselves.
This sets the tenor of the whole album, though judged individually, some tracks are less convincing than others.
'Panic', 'The Boy With The Thorn...', 'What She Said' - all have received better live airings, whilst 'Still Ill', the only inclusion from the first album, seems to drag slightly. Rank's ascendant moments level all this out. 'Rushole Ruffians' and 'London' both hail from the band's most boisterous canon of music-making, yet here the twin measures of force and focus (Marr's high-energy guitar pop savvy; Morrissey's blunt idiosyncratic rhymes, naked hectoring persona and stabbingly acute imagery) merge into performances of epic substance. On 'Rusholme' the music seems to spin faster and faster, an aural Ferris wheel giddily threatening the same mindless violence its lyric details, whilst on 'London' it hurtles along like the train in the lyric, running on fearful uncertainties and portents of doom.
Rank's downside occurs when one searches for examples of the group's more classically plangent approach. There's a fine 'Cemetry Gates', the noble failure of 'I Know It's Over' (the studio version will never be equalled) and, best of all, 'Ask', here presented as the joyous pop 'La Bamba' for the Eighties.
It's here that serious grievances have to be aired. The Smiths were one of rock music's greatest live groups, whose ability to achieve a genuinely thrilling poignancy this live relase only hints at glancingly. What this record lacks is the vital dimension of mystery and depth, that ultimate virtue in The Smiths equation.
It's this absence that rankles far more than the fan's disappointment at being seen-off with a live broadcast most of us have long since taped and filed away.
The point is this: The Smiths were the greatest rock band of the '80's because they seemed to function on sixteen cylinders when everybody was tootling along on four. Rank will do the job of topping the LP charts over here for a while to come and, I'll wager, it will finally truly break them in the States, because this is good bracing rock music loaded with cranky visions and authentic weirdness, and there is nothing musically in the air to remotely threaten its worth. In other words, Rank is The Smiths at eight cylinders.
It's an indictment of Rank that they've not allowed themselves to do better, yet still some testament to their greatness that at half their strength, they still sound so right."
- Nick Kent, The Catalogue
"The last two Smiths albums were a compilation and a studio swansong, both disappointments; so we weren't holding our breath for yet another posthumous release. But the live LP, Rank, turns out to be a spirited finale, and will probably be the LP I'll reach for to remember the Smiths. Material includes their two best later singles ('Ask' and 'Panic'), and Johnny Marr cuts loose more than he ever did in the studio. But the real surprise is how enthused Morrissey sounds, breaking away from his trademark droll monotone. Listen to the impromptu take on Elvis Presley's 'Marie's the Name (His Latest Flame),' and tell me he's not having fun."
"Perhaps it's appropriate that the group which was for ever going on about death in one form or another should have waited until after its own before releasing a live album. Ticklish ironies aside, Rank serves as a superb epitaph, greatest hits compilation and concert memento all rolled into one. And sporting as it does one of those Morrissey-designed archive photo sleeves, bears the unmistakable imprimatur of The Smiths themselves: this is not a record company milk-the-myth enterprise.
It comes just as it was originally recorded at the National Ballroom, Kilburn in October 1986 for a Radio One live transmission, and has a stingingly bright sound. It also finds a band capable of wobbly moments on stage (and a singer with a notoriously approximate way with a tune) in well-nigh note perfect form. Best of all though is the way it belatedly answers the Smiths' detractors. Because by no stretch of anyone's imagination can this swirling, churning rush of guitars and vocal larks be written off as weedy, miserabilist indulgence for the emotionally starved inhabitants of bedsitters and suburban bedrooms.
In fact it shows just how clever The Smiths were in having their cake and eating it. As long as Morrissey was beguiling those of more delicate, '80's-ish sensibilities with his camp send-up of traditional rock posturing, Johnny Marr had carte blanche to be as rock'n'roll in as many different ways as he damn well liked. It was a strikingly successful reconciliation of polar opposites and if The Smiths' studio productions tended to weight the scales in favour of Morrissey's cod-operatic celebration of cemeteries and hospitals, the brisk 14 track recital here redresses the balance in favour of Marr's guitar - and the presence of sometime fifth member Craig Gannon, playing another, obviously helps as well. The opener on side one, 'The Queen Is Dead,' shows the way. With Marr dishing out the power chords and Morrissey epitomising powerlessness with a selection of mock roars, sqaueaks and howls, the song devolves into a sort of modernist thrash boogie with a sly, satirical vocal topping. And though there is plenty of intricate picking elsewhere, on 'Vicar In A Tutu' and'Ask' for instance, and Morrissey is allowed to stretch out in his glum aria 'I Know It's Over,' what we basically have here is tough post-punk rock of stature and wit.
The material contains a few surprises. There's a neat medley tie-up of 'Rusholme Ruffians' and the Elvis classic 'His Latest Flame,' a furious Marr instrumental 'The Draize Train' and a couple of B-sides. But most of the names here are familiar ones - as befits a memorial. So, farewell then The Smiths, there will be dancing on your grave for a while yet." *****
- Robert Sandall, Q