How Soon Is Now? The Songs Of The Smiths – Various Artists

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

With Morrissey announcing his return from voluntary exile with a new album, a position as curator of this year’s Meltdown Festival, and a collective welcome into the open arms of the country’s broadsheet media, it seems timely that this tribute album from Sorepoint Records, after six months’ gestation, finally hits the shelves.

HOW SOON IS NOW? collects together contributions from a bunch of bands from both sides of the Atlantic who share the skewed Smiths worldview and that enticing mixture of wounded defeatism and violent indignation that makes Steven Patrick Morrissey such an erudite lyricist.

The renditions vary from faithful (THE BEAUTIFUL MISTAKE’S reverent ‘Cemetry Gates’; GARRISON’S euphoric version of ‘Panic’; HUNDRED REASONS’ brilliantly hair-raisingly direct take on ‘How Soon Is Now?’) to bands who have dirtied-up the sound without losing the essence of the song (MILLION DEAD’s crawling ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’; LOMAX’s raucous ‘Handsome Devil’).

In terms of variety, all this guitar-jiggery does get a little tedious after a while, hitting something of a nadir at the laboured efforts of MY AWESOME COMPILATION’s ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, but this is soon cancelled out by the icy melancholy of INSTRUCTIONS’ ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’. As a bonus, Quicksand fans can also catch up with WALTER SCHRIEFELS as he weighs in with a rousing rendition of ‘Ask’.

HOW SOON IS NOW? boasts an (on the whole) admirable collection of covers, although the over-riding feeling is a desire to hear the originals, but then I guess that’s the point of a tribute album. A good effort – and the HUNDRED REASONS track has to be heard – but it was a near impossible task to begin with.

4 stars