25. The Smiths, Vol. 1 - Best of The Smiths (Sire, 1992)

The 18-track Singles (which superseded this) and The Queen Is Dead (1986) are probably more essential purchases, but the former doesn't include "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" and "Half A Person" (among the band's ten best tracks, but never released as singles) and only "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" overlaps with the latter. This brief compilation was my introduction to the man, the myth, the Moz. Easily the most original popular band of its era (in the UK, anyway), just note how fluid the non-chronological sequencing seems here--no jarring contrasts between tracks and the quality never falters. Plus, Johnny Marr's innovative, crisp 12-string riffage makes a perfect yang to Morrissey's melodramatic yin. How did gawky, shy, confused misfit teens ever cope without "Panic", "Girlfriend in a Coma", the superlative "How Soon Is Now" and other tuneful, sympathetic, darkly comic salvos seemingly written especially for them?