Album of the Day
The Smiths' sole concert album, RANK, was issued by contractual obligation – and we all owe the nameless lawyer who wrote that contract a huge debt of thanks. Recorded at the National Ballroom in London in late October 1986, the show heard here took place mere months before the U.K. indie icons retired from live appearances, but you'd never guess it from these committed performances. For a group famed for its meticulous studio craftsmanship, these tracks really rock (additional guitarist Craig Gannon helps along these lines), and versions of “The Queen Is Dead,” “Panic,” “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side” and other favorites crackle with energy. Released 30 years ago, RANK is an essential entry in the Smiths canon, and the first record to play to anyone who dismisses the band as mere depressives.