60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #9


The Smiths – Hatful of Hollow (1984)

From wiki:-

Hatful of Hollow is a compilation album by English rock band The Smiths, released on 12 November 1984by Rough Trade Records. The album features BBC Radio 1 studio recordings and two contemporary singles with their B-sides.

The album consists mainly of songs recorded over several BBC Radio 1 sessions in 1983. Tracks shown with an asterisk were included on the album.

  1. For John Peel on 18 May 1983 (broadcast 31 May): “Handsome Devil*”, “Reel Around the Fountain*”, “Miserable Lie”, “What Difference Does It Make?*” (all four songs were later released as the Peel Sessions EP)
  2. For David Jensen on 26 June 1983 (broadcast 4 July): “These Things Take Time*”, “You’ve Got Everything Now*”, “Wonderful Woman”
  3. For Jensen on 25 August, 1983 (broadcast 5 September): “Accept Yourself*”, “I Don’t Owe You Anything”, “Pretty Girls Make Graves”, “Reel Around the Fountain”
  4. For Peel on 14 September, 1983 (broadcast 21 September): “This Charming Man*”, “Back to the Old House*”, “This Night Has Opened My Eyes*”, “Still Ill*”

When first broadcast, these radio sessions mainly featured songs which were otherwise unavailable. All were subsequently re-recorded for singles or for the band’s debut album the following year. “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” was recorded in the studio in June 1984, but the only version ever released was the September Peel session.

Hatful of Hollow also features the band’s debut single, “Hand in Glove”, and their two most recent singles prior to the album’s release, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “William, It Was Really Nothing”, along with their respective B-sides, “Girl Afraid”, “How Soon Is Now?” and “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”.

The radio session versions of songs are different from other studio recordings. Some of the major differences are:

  • “What Difference Does It Make?” has heavier and more natural-sounding guitars than the version on The Smiths. It is also in a higher key than the version on The Smiths.
  • “These Things Take Time” features bass that is more prominent and drums that are less controlled than in the version from the “What Difference Does It Make?” 12″ single. Sliding guitar figures accompany the chorus.
  • “This Charming Man” has softer and more upbeat vocals, guitars and even drums than the version released as a single and on some versions of The Smiths. The bass line is louder and altered slightly. Additionally, there is no solo guitar introduction.
  • “Still Ill” opens and closes with a harmonica solo, and sounds less hollow and slightly slower than the version on The Smiths.
  • “You’ve Got Everything Now” is slower than the version on The Smiths and does not have any keyboard part. The bass line is also altered slightly.
  • “Back to the Old House” is an acoustic piece with melancholic guitars and vocals, as opposed to the full band version on the “What Differences Does It Make?” single.
  • Reel Around the Fountain” has duller-sounding drums and acoustic guitars than the version on The Smiths. The bass is more prominent, but the piano and organ parts are not included. It is also in a higher key than the version on The Smiths.

In addition, the original single version of “Hand in Glove” is included, not the remixed version that appears on The Smiths. It features a fade-intro and fade-out, louder bass, and vocals that sound very distant.

JC adds……

That’s your facts.

These days, Hatful of Hollow is the Smiths release I’ll lean on as my go-to album as it takes me back to the innocent and wonderful era when the band was being discovered.  All those radio sessions had been recorded onto cassette by someone or other in our ‘gang’, and numerous copies were made and passed around, with ever decreasing sound qualities and ever-increasing hissing.  I’m not sure that all the recordings were even in stereo.

It all meant that when the debut album was released in February 1984, it felt something of an anti-climax as so many of the songs were familiar, and indeed, even though the sound quality of the home-made cassettes was lousy, we felt the radio sessions were better versions.

The release of Hatful of Hollow in November 1984 went a long way to rectifying matters.

One other reason for looking back on this album so fondly?   It was responsible for my first ever written review of any album, thanks to the editor of the Strathclyde Telegraph, the University’s student newspaper, asking me to come up with a couple of hundred words.  I think he did so as he knew I had a copy of the album and there was so much interest in the group that he felt it better feature, even though Rough Trade hadn’t sent one in for review purposes.

Unfortunately, I no longer have a copy of the review….which I’m sort of glad about as no doubt it was appallingly written….but it was good for the ego to see my name in print.

mp3:  The Smiths – This Night Has Opened My Eyes

As wiki states, Hatful of Hollow was the only place that this track, which was an essential part of so many of the early live shows, was ever given a release.

Oh, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that three of the band’s best and subsequently most enduring studio recordings, previously only available as b-sides, were included on the album.




My recollections of 1983 being as great a year as there has ever been in terms of the singles charts and the 45s truly standing the test of time must have, more or less, wiped out the fifth month of the year, certainly judging by the final chart of the last full week of the month, 22-28 May.

For the most part, the best of the songs were those that had featured in March and/or April and were thus on their way falling down or out of the charts – Heaven 17 (#4), Fun Boy Three (#9), Human League (#15), Tears For Fears (#18), New Order (#32), Kissing The Pink (#36) and David Bowie (#37).

Spandau Ballet‘s four-week run at #1 was ended by American pop/R’n’B act New Edition, whose Candy Girl was enjoying its sole week at the top.  It would be replaced at #1 in the chart of 29 May by this:-

mp3: The Police – Every Breath You Take

The highest new entry on 22 May 1983 at #7.  It’s one that has, to many, became annoying due to over-exposure both at the time and since, but I still reckon it’s a great and subversive piece of pop music, as evidenced by it being a much requested first-dance by new brides and grooms despite it being clearly unsuited for such a purpose.

Another mid-tempo tune with a melancholic subject matter was just one place below at #8:-

mp3 : Yazoo – Nobody’s Diary

The lead single from the duo’s second album would, in later weeks, provide them with their third Top 3 single after the success in 1982 of Only You and Don’t Go.  Nobody realised at the time that Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet had reached the end of their tethers in terms of working together, and Nobody’s Diary would prove to be their final 45, although the album, You and Me Both, would reach #1 on its release in July 1983, despite no second or further 45s to assist with promotion.

The rest of the Top 10 was made up by The Beat (with an appalling cover of an easy listening number originally released by Andy Williams in 1963), Wham!, Galaxy and Hot Chocolate, which makes the chart feel like some sort of visit to a sweet shop.

Just outside the Top 10 were a couple of 45s that I recall buying at the time:-

mp3: Bob Marley & The Wailers – Buffalo Soldier (#11)
mp3: The Style Council – Money Go Round (Part 1) (#12)

Bob Marley had passed away in 1981, and this was the first, but far from the last, posthumous single issued by Island Records. Buffalo Soldier would eventually climb to #4, which was the highest ever position any of the Wailers singles ever reached.

This was a new entry for The Style Council‘s second ever 45 but, unlike debut Speak Like A Child, it didn’t manage to crack the Top 10.

JoBoxers, a band that was largely made up of musicians who had previously been The Subway Sect, and backing band to Vic Godard, were enjoying their second hit 45 of the year:-

mp3:  JoBoxers – Just Got Lucky (#16)

The bottom end of the Top 40 was largely made up of songs/acts that I genuinely can’t recall – F.R. David, Forrest, D Train, Flash and The Pan, and MTune – or those I wish I could forget – Hall & Oates, Modern Romance, George Benson, Men At Work, Rush and Cliff Richard.

But down in the 30-somethings there were a couple of tunes that are well worth recalling:-

mp3: Big Country – In A Big Country (#34)
mp3: Robert Wyatt – Shipbuilding (#35)

Big Country‘s second hit single would eventually reach #17 and an extended version would be included on their debut album ,The Crossing, which went Top 3 and spent a remarkable 68 successive weeks in the Top 100 after its later release in August 1983.

Robert Wyatt‘s poignant and moving take on Elvis Costello‘s anti-war number had originally been released in August 1982 but had failed to trouble the charts, largely as it wasn’t aired on any radio stations. Come the end of the year, and most music papers had it listed high on the various lists of ‘single of the year’, and Rough Trade Records took the decision to reissue it in April 1983 to mark the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Falklands War, the event that had led to Elvis composing the song.  #35 was as high as it got in the charts, and it had taken four weeks to do so.  It was only the second time Robert Wyatt had enjoyed a solo hit single, and it came almost nine years after his cover of I’m A Believer had reached #29.

I’ll end today with a single from the month of May 1983 that didn’t hit the high end of the chart, but is one I really associate with the time as it was aired regularly at the alternative disco held each Friday and Saturday in the student union:-

mp3: The B52s – Song For A Future Generation

It was the third single to be lifted from the album Whammy!.  The two previous 45s, Legal Tender and Whammy Kiss, had been total flops, but Generation wriggled its way to #63 and helped the parent album briefly breach the Top 40.

But then again, this time 40 years ago, I was had a new 45, along with its b-side, on very very very heavy rotation. Not sure if I bought it on the actual day of its release on 13 May 1983, but it would certainly have been there or thereabouts.

mp3: The Smiths – Hand In Glove
mp3: The Smiths – Handsome Devil

The b-side has been recorded live at The Hacienda, Manchester on 4 February which was just a few weeks in advance of the studio session in Stockport at which the self-produced a-side was laid down.

It didn’t breach the Top 100, but it eventually reached the Indie Singles Chart where it hung around for many months, thanks to Rough Trade being happy enough to periodically order up more repressings, eventually peaking at #3.

Once again, R.I.P., Andy Rourke.  Just 19 years old when the band became a success.




A few weeks back, I posed a question about whether The Smiths should make a reappearance on TVV after more than five years.  I was trying to read the room, as I felt I couldn’t really look at the musical happenings of 1983 without bringing the band into consideration.

A lively debate/discussion ensued via the comments section, with diverse opinions on offer. Many of those who contributed have been long time supporters of the blog, either through regular comments or guest postings, and it soon became apparent that whatever I decided upon, I was going to disappoint a few close friends.

Overall, it felt that most who engaged with the post did think it was possible to detach the art from the artist, with a number of folk making the point that The Smiths were much more than just one member. This, from my dear friend flimflanfan, really hit home:-

“The Smiths were a big part of 1983. I think you should consider their inclusion. That would be an accurate account of then – not now. The achievements of The Smiths other band members deserve to be spoken about without the shadow of the singer’s appalling beliefs. I still can’t listen to The Smiths, but hope in time that I might be able to. The singer’s songs? No. They won’t be listened to again.”

So, when the time comes, the 1983 series will feature The Smiths.

When I came up with the idea of the series looking at the changing cost of vinyl, I wondered whether the change of attitude from many towards The Smiths had resulted in any downward spiral in the prices being asked.

Given that I bought just about everything back in the 80s, I’ve never had to dip into the Discogs market other than for one 12″ single, which I failed to get at the time of release, but much later picked up a second hand copy (in near mint condition for the vinyl and the sleeve) for £6.99, plus P&P, in March 2008:-

mp3: The Smiths – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

The asking price for the version I have, and rated as near mint/near mint, is in the vicinity of £50.  Copies with sleeve wear and a vinyl assessment of Very Good+, are about half that price.

The increase in cost, in fifteen years, is over 600%, all of which can be attributed to the vinyl revival that was only just beginning to take shape back in 2008.

It’s frightening.

The two b-sides were taken from a session recorded for the John Peel Show in August 1984.

mp3 : The Smiths – Nowhere Fast (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (Peel Session)

It was genuinely strange to listen to these three songs again after so long.  But it’ll still be the very occasional dip into the band’s back catalogue, rather than their singles or albums being on heavy rotation here in Villain Towers.

Oh, and the comeback just happens to be at the same time as I happen to be in Manchester for a few days…..



…..in a hotel room in Manchester, having come down on the train yesterday.  It’s a three night stay, the purpose of which is to catch up with a few folk for the first time in years, including Swiss Adam.  There’s also a visit planned to the above building to take in what, by all accounts, is an excellent exhibition on the early years of Factory Records.

I did think about offering up a Factory band of some sorts today, but then I thought I’d go back to an old favourite.  A band who haven’t been featured on the blog since ICA 150 back in December 2017.  A band I no longer listen to at all, dating back to not long after that posting for very obvious reasons.  And while I really miss the brilliance of their songs, it really is a point of principle.  But, given that I am in their home city and the mode of transport used to get me here, and of course the very important fact that this song is an instrumental,  I’ll enjoy this today:-

mp3: The Smiths – The Draize Train

A few folk I know have emptied their collection of the singles and albums by The Smiths as well as the material issued throughout the singer’s solo career.   I haven’t quite been able to go that far.



The first ICA was 19 June 2014. It featured The Smiths. Little did I know how popular the series would become or just how many fantastic guest contributions it would result in. Now that the series has hit #150, allow me a little self-indulgence with a long-overdue Volume 2:-

Side A

1. Girl Afraid

To me, the great single that never was. There are some critics out there who feel the tune is let down by a trite and simplistic lyric. Maybe it was one that Morrissey wasn’t completely convinced by and so it ended up initially as the extra track on the 12” release of Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. It was one of the first of the second batch of songs that fans got to enjoy (i.e. it wasn’t on the debut album nor had it been aired on a BBC radio session) and to those of us who liked to throw ourselves all over the student union dance floor, it was deemed an instant classic. It’s still one that I love to air whenever I’m lucky enough to be putting together playlists for club nights. The lengthy instrumental introduction set a standard for indie music that very few, if any, matched over the remainder of the decade.

2. The Boy With The Thorn In His Side

Released in August 1985. One that annoyed me back in the day for the heinous crime of having a promo video. Morrissey’s multiple statements from 1983 that The Smiths would never make a video to accompany any 45 had meant a lot when they were uttered. In an era when big-name bands were on what seemed like a suicidal mission to outspend one another on lavishly filmed features complete with nonsensical storylines in which the musicians were free to deploy abysmal acting and lip-synching skills, that my band were different was something to be proud and boastful about. I was such a sensitive prick in those days.

I also felt, back in the day, that this was one of the weaker tracks on The Queen Is Dead, mostly as there were so many other songs that would have made better 45s. As time has gone on, it has become one of my favourite numbers in the entire back catalogue – it’s one of the best examples of Johnny Marr’s quietly understated guitar work that is perfectly complemented by a gentle and whimsical vocal delivery.

3. This Charming Man

This didn’t make the first ICA? Really???? It seems not……

Just to be different, I’ve gone for the ‘London’ version of the song. Worth mentioning that Johnny wrote the tune, partly as a response to being slightly jealous that Aztec Camera were enjoying chart success. The London version was the first stab at cutting the 45 but was discarded for version recorded a few days later back up north in Stockport. There’s a great on-line description of the song which states “Early Elvis would have approved of the music, Wilde of the words”. Wish I’d thought of that back in the day.

4. I Know It’s Over

It was tempting at this point, having gone Girl, Boy, Man to launch into Wonderful Woman, and then perhaps complete side A with a name check for Jeane, Sheila,William or Mr Shankly. But I take these things seriously!!

Ballads were important to the band and their fans; the quality of the slow songs, from the very beginning, marked out just how special and unique The Smiths were. This was only kept off Volume 1, by the very slimmest of margins, by Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me. I sometimes look at ICA1 and think I might have got it wrong. But only sometimes.

5. You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby

One of the songs that benefitted from there being a fifth, temporary member of the band in the shape of Craig Gannon. It’s one that was initially thought of as a possible single in 1987 but had such a spectacular fall from grace in terms of the politics of the band that it was never ever performed live nor featured in any radio or TV performances. Johnny, realising that he had written something rather special (again!!) was more than happy to return to the studio the following year and contribute to a superb version by his good pal Kirsty MacColl. Even Morrissey would, belatedly, acknowledge its worth by including his own solo version within a live CD released in 2009.

Side B

1. A Rush and a Push and The Land Is Ours

The strange ghost story piano number that opens up the band’s final album is ridiculously camp, even by Moz standards. But it’s one of his best, and I’ve always considered the couplet “There’s too much caffeine in your bloodstream / And a lack of real spice in your life” as being laugh-out loud for all the right reasons. And having, at the time, just gotten through a rather messy break-up of my own, I empathised entirely with not wanting to mention love as I hated the pain and the strain all over again.

It’s a song that gives an indication of just where the band could have gone to with a sixth and subsequent studio LP is they hadn’t combusted so spectacularly.

2. London

In complete contrast, here’s Johnny wigging out big-style on the guitar. Fast, furious and as frenetic as a late-running Virgin Train West Coast Line service trying desperately to make up time as it speeds onto Euston. It’s two minutes of musical mayhem and it’s also one of Morrissey’s most clever lyrics as he faced up to his critics, such as the late Tony Wilson, who weren’t happy that the band had decamped south in pursuit of their career. I’m sure there was plenty of jealousy in the eyes of the ones who had to stay behind and look on as The Smiths churned out one great song after another. I’ve included the rarer John Peel session version in this ICA, not on the grounds that it is superior, but just because it seems only right to have it feature just ahead of something else that is different…..

3. Reel Around The Fountain

A website dedicated to all things Smiths/Moz provides the following info:-

“The song was written in the spring of 1983. It was first professionally recorded on 18 May 1983 for the band’s first appearance on John Peel’s BBC programme (first broadcast on 31 May 1983), with producer Roger Pusey. It was professionally recorded again in July/August 1983 at London’s Elephant Studios with producer Troy Tate during the initial sessions for the band’s debut album.

It was recorded again on 25 August 1983 for the band’s second appearance on David Jensen’s BBC programme (first broadcast on 5 September 1983), with producer John Porter. However, because of controversy, the song was banned by the BBC and this version of “Reel Around The Fountain” was not broadcast until two years later when the whole session was repeated on Janice Long’s programme.

The definitive version was recorded in mid-October 1983 at Pluto Studios in Manchester, with producer John Porter. Additional mixing was done during sessions in November 1983 at Eden Studios in London.”

A flatmate had captured, in high quality, that first Peel session and that was the version of the song that I knew so well by the time the debut album was released. It was a fragile sounding song that ran to almost six minutes in length and felt like nothing else that any other band had ever recorded. I’ve no idea how many times I ended up copying this onto compilation tapes over the summer of 1983 as I desperately wanted to share it with everyone. The studio version on the debut LP, which was much more polished and accomplished, lost something along the way.

I’ve therefore gone for the middle ground and fished out the lesser known Jensen session from August/September 83. It’s one that captures the band on the cusp of true greatness.

4. Sweet and Tender Hooligan

The Smiths weren’t strangers to the BBC studios, broadcasting on four Peel Sessions (May 83, September 83, August 84 and December 86) as well as two Jensen sessions (July 83 and September 83). A number of these performances, going back to This Night Has Opened My Eyes in 1983, became the only time they were ever officially released songs either as tracks on compilation albums or b-sides, thus demonstrating just how seriously they took such events and how, having felt the radio sessions couldn’t be bettered, they never really returned to them in the studio.

This is a close cousin to London in that Johnny plays very hard and fast while Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce work hard to keep up with him. Its inclusion in the set list for Morrissey’s frantic and chaotic solo debut in Wolverhampton in 1988, in which he was backed by the duo as well as Craig Gannon, has always seemed as s two-fingered gesture at Johnny as if to say that the band was capable of continuing without him.

5. These Things Take Time

Indeed they do. Another classic b-side from the early days. “The most inept that ever stared”. I love that line so much.  Substitute ‘typed’ for stared and that’s sometimes how I feel in 2017!



The last night of the fair
By the big wheel generator
A boy is stabbed, his money is grabbed
And the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine

The last night of the fair
She is famous, she is funny
An engagement ring doesn’t mean a thing
To a mind consumed by brass(money)

And though I walk home alone
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

The last night of the fair
From a seat on a whirling waltzer
Her skirt ascends for a watching eye
It’s a hideous trait on her mother’s side

The last night of the fair
From a seat on a whirling waltzer
Her skirt ascends for a watching eye
It’s a hideous trait on her mother’s side

And though I walk home alone
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout
I may walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

Then someone falls in love and and someone’s beaten up
Someone falls in love
The pulses being beat are mine

And someone falls in love
And someone’s beaten up, someone’s beaten up
And the senses being dulled are mine

And tonight I will walk home alone
I will walk home alone
But still my faith in love is still devout
Though I woke home alone
I may walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

This the last night of the fair
And by the big wheel generator
A boy is stabbed and his money is grabbed
And the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine

She is famous, she is funny
An engagement ring doesn’t mean a thing
To a mind consumed by brass(money)

Though I walk home alone
Yes I might walk home alone
Sill, my faith in love is still devout
I might walk home alone tonight
My faith in love is still devout

So scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
This means you really love me
Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
This means you really love me

And then… I might walk home alone
I might walk home alone
But my faith in love is still devout
My faith in love is still devout
My faith in love is still devout

This is the last night of the fair
And the grease in the hair of the speedway operator
Is it all a tremulous heart requires?
A girl is denied
She said: “How quickly would I die if I jumped from the top of the parachutes?”

This is the last night of the fair
And the grease in the hair of a speedway operator
Is all a tremulous heart requires
A girl who is denied says
“How quickly would I if I jumped from the top of the parachutes?”

Please….scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
And this means you really love me
Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
And this means you really love me

And yes, I walk home alone
I might walk home alone
But still, my faith in love is still devout

mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (early version)



30, 20, 10 (Part 5)

The latest installment in the monthly series looking back at the songs which were #1 in the indie charts on the first day of the month 30, 20 and 10 years ago.

Last month gave us what you would imagine to be an atypical trio of indie hits over the decades with New Order, Oasis and Arctic Monkeys featuring. September 1987 continues in a similar vein but the #1s from the following two decades are as far from indie as you can imagine….especially 2007.

1 September 1987 : mp3 : The Smiths – Girlfriend In A Coma

Some four weeks prior, the UK weekly newspaper NME had exclusively revealed the break-up of The Smiths just as the band were preparing to promote the first single to be lifted from their fourth studio LP although details were hazy.  The story was followed up a week later with the revelation that guitarist Johnny Marr had left the band (or been sacked depending on the spin you believed) but that a replacement was being sought to allow things to carry on as normal.  It was a bizarre time for fans of the band and things weren’t really helped with the first exposure to the new single which, at just over 2 mins in length and with a nonsensical lyric over a lightweight tune, isn’t easy to fall in love….well, not until repeated exposure and then you realise there is some wonderful guitar playing within it as well as the hints of strings, albeit synthetically reproduced thanks to electronica. It’s grown on me over the years but I still think it is one of, if not the, weakest single the band released back in the day.

1 September 1997 :  Tina Moore – Never Gonna Let You Go

I have no idea what this sounds like…can’t recall it at all.  Nope.  Think it’s the first time I’ve ever heard it.  It’s ghastly.  Turning to wiki:-

“Never Gonna Let You Go” is a single by American singer Tina Moore. Originally released in 1995, the song reached #27 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In 1997, a UK garage remix of the song by Kelly G was released and became a Top 10 hit in the UK, peaking at #7 on the UK Singles Chart.

DJ Magazine ranked it number 62 in their list of Top 100 Club Tunes in 1998. MTV Dance placed “Never Gonna Let You Go” at #92 in their list of The 100 Biggest 90’s Dance Anthems Of All Time in November 2011.

If you must listen…..

It qualified for the indie charts via that loophole I mentioned in an earlier posting;

“Inclusion on the indie chart was always about distribution. Initially, the record needed to be delivered by a distribution service that was independent of the four major record companies: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group and the genre of music was irrelevant. The major labels however got round this by setting up subsidiary labels and outsourcing the shipping of those singles to smaller distribution services.

It took until June 2009 to close this loophole when the industry altered the rules so that in addition to distribution criteria a single was only eligible for the Indie Chart is it was on a label that was at least fifty per cent owned by an entity that was not one of the main four record companies.”

Tina Moore was on a subsidiary of Warner Bros.

But here’s probably the best possible example of the rules being bent….

1 September 2007 : Elvis Presley – My Baby Left Me

If you look this up, you’ll find that it’s a song that dates back to 1950 and that Elvis Presley recorded and released it in 1956 as a b-side to I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.  I have no idea why it was released as a single in 1997 – it was of course the 20th anniversary of his death and it could well have been related to that.  It was put out on Memphis Recordings but let’s face the facts….Elvis was really part of RCA Records most of his career up until his death and so all recordings can be traced back to whichever multinational was in ownership of the songs in 2007 (I think it was Sony).

Much more of these outcomes and I’ll be dropping this series for breaching trading standards descriptions.



WARNING : Negative words alert!!!!!

What follows won’t really come as a surprise to those of you who are in the unfortunate position of being able to read my Facebook posts.

Within 15 minutes of the credits rolling on England Is Mine, I was back on the train home to Glasgow. The original plan had been to head along to a post-screening reception that Mr John Greer had kindly arranged access to, but I felt I was a bit casually dressed for such a grand occasion and besides, if I had to bow to the decorum expected of such events, I’d needed to have lied through gritted teeth about my views on the film if asked by anyone involved in its making.

Instead I got to work on an instant review as the train headed west. And here’s what I typed.

“Sorry to say, but I thought the film was a real let down. The script, or lack of one, was a shocker. Anyone who went along tonight with no idea of the backstory would have been bemused and not really been able to follow it.

Morrissey was portrayed mainly as a one-dimensional character, with just one short scene with Linder showing any sense of warm humour. The world of work is populated by one-dimensional characters lifted straight from sit-com casting central; nobody understands our would be poet/writer/singer, especially his male colleagues and his boss, while his one female colleague just wants to get inside his y-fronts.

Oh and it constantly rains in Manchester too……

Soundtrack was enjoyable mind you.”

Leaving aside that I repeated the phrase ‘one-dimensional’, it’s not too shabby an instant reaction. A few other folk I know were also at the showing and some of them also gave fairly quick reactions via social media and it’s fair to say they didn’t agree with me.

The first two or three lengthy on-line reviews that followed a few hours later were also quite scathing although later opinions tended to be more favourable and offered various degrees of praise. As far as I can see, however, nobody has come out and said it’s a masterpiece.

Reflecting on things almost 24 hours on and the word I didn’t use in the Facebook review was ‘boring’ because that would have been what I’d have said if I was asked for a one-word reaction. If allowed a second word, it would have been ‘cliched’.

The truth of the matter is that Morrissey, from the ages of 17-24, didn’t lead a particularly exciting life and so a film biopic will always be on a hiding to nothing. The main issue for me was the poor quality of the script, but as was explained in one review, this stemmed from the screenwriters’ inability to quote anything that Morrissey was known to have said in real life for fear of being sued given the whole venture was unauthorised. As such, the few decent lines were given to other characters and Jack Lowden, in the role of our protagonist, has to rely on facial expressions and mannerisms to convince us of the depth of his character (and to be fair, he does a reasonable job). The best performance in the film comes from Jessica Brown Findlay in the role of Linder Sterling, but this is perhaps down to the fact that enough is known about the real life Linder to appreciate that the actress delivers an accurate and sympathetic portrayal of someone who, in real life, is an interesting personality in her own right.

My biggest problem was the way the other supporting characters came across. It was as if the director and scriptwriter had watched The Office and decided that the male characters who worked at the Inland Revenue alongside Morrissey should be as Brent-esque & co as possible. Maybe that was what they were really like in the late 70s but it was really dreadful, unfunny and predictable – as too were the scenes in which our hero finds himself on an enforced date with his flirtatious female colleague.

Much has been written about the influence that Morrissey’s mother had on him growing up, but for all but one scene they barely acknowledge one another. There is also little made of Morrissey’s alleged rapier-like wit that seemingly got him noticed on the Manchester scene – for 80% of the movie he is mostly an incoherent, bumbling individual bar the occasional exchange with Linder, but all of a sudden, after he has come off prescribed anti-depressant medication, only in the final 15 minutes of the movie, in which has also smartened up his dress sense and gotten a fashionable haircut, do the barbed comments start to flow.

The most pathetic scene, however, was when our hero, having had his genius denied just once too often for his liking, goes all Incredible Hulk on us and destroys his previously cave-like bedroom where everything was in a particular place for a particular purpose. Oh, and don’t get me started on Johnny Marr being straight out of the cast of the UK edition of Shameless…….

I don’t like to be negative on this little corner of the internet, but having already posted how excited I was to be going along to the premiere, I don’t think I can avoid sharing these thoughts with you.

And in the interest of balance, if anyone wants to offer a more positive review, I’d be very happy to post it.

Any excuse mind you to post the song from which the film title is taken:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Still Ill


30, 20, 10 (Part 1)

Something new that I’m going to try to do on the 1st day of each month (or as close to the 1st if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday). And that’s bring the songs that were #1 in the UK Indie Charts 30, 20 and 10 years ago to the day. Unless they are pish and only qualified for the Indie charts thanks to a distribution quirk. So here we go with 1 May 1987, 1997 and 2007 respectively.

mp3 : The Smiths – Sheila Take A Bow (Rough Trade)
R. Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly (Jive Records)
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Brianstorm (Domino Records)

I’m actually quite pleased about it being these three. The Smiths and Arctic Monkeys are two of the biggest and best known bands who can be thought of as classic indie – i.e. guitar based bands on small, independently owned labels. R Kelly on the other hand shows up how ludicrous the chart was for a good number of years.

Inclusion on the indie chart was always about distribution. Initially, the record needed to be delivered by a distribution service that was independent of the four major record companies: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group and the genre of music was irrelevant. The major labels however got round this by setting up subsidiary labels and outsourcing the shipping of those singles to smaller distribution services. Thus a single that was part of the soundtrack to a Hollywood film and which had enough clout to pick up 3 Grammy Awards thanks to it being on Atlantic Records in the USA, was eligible to take the #1 slot in a chart that it really shouldn’t have been any part of.

It took until June 2009 to close this loophole when the industry altered the rules so that in addition to distribution criteria a single was only eligible for the Indie Chart is it was on a label that was at least fifty per cent owned by an entity that was not one of the main four record companies.

I’m sure this intended regular feature will throw up some howlers as time moves on, particularly in the 90s and 00s.

Oh and I meant to add that I was astounded that the Arctic Monkeys had a #1 on the chart as long as ten years ago from what was their second LP. I never thought they had been around that long. It’s a belter of a single too.

And as I just happen to own some vinyl, here’s the b-sides from the 12″ release in 1987 and the 10″ release in 2007:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Is It Really So Strange?
mp3 : The Smiths – Sweet and Tender Hooligan
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – If You Found This It’s Probably Too Late
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Temptation Greets Like A Naughty Friend
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – What If You Were Right The First Time?

Temptation features a cameo vocal contribution from the wonderful Dizzee Rascal.




(and again on 31 October 2013)


The position of this song in the chart will come as a shock to many regular readers and to those who have known me for many years. There’s at least one mate who tipped it to be #1….

I was fortunate enough to be around when The Smiths first came to prominence. They remain my all-time favourite band, and I don’t think they will ever lose that particular mantle however long I manage to live.

I was present at their first ever gig in Scotland – at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow on Saturday 2nd March 1984. This was a truly astonishing night in a small student-venue that was packed to the rafters. It was very hot, sweaty and tightly-packed and it is probably the nearest I’ve ever came to passing-out at a concert.

The Smiths had not long cracked the Top 20 with their third single What Difference Does It Make?, while their recently-released debut LP had gone Top 10. So they were hardly a secret.

The venue was woefully inadequate for the demand for tickets, and there were dozens of folk outside pleading for the lucky few to sell for way over the cost (which I can’t recall, but was no more than £4 or £5). The level of expectancy was enormous, and the build-up to the band taking the stage bordered on insane hysteria. I’d never experienced anything like it beforehand, and never again since (although the first five minutes down the front of the Morrissey ‘comeback gig’ at the MEN Arena in 2003 came awfully close).

Steven, Johnny, Mike and Andy took to the stage to a crescendo of noise – I was worried that the crowd was so loud that we wouldn’t hear anything above it. The opening notes of Hand In Glove were struck – if anything this only cranked up the atmosphere. The one song that those of us who had been in from the start adored above all else – the song that had been the flop single with the controversial nude male on the sleeve – and the song that seemed more than anything to sum-up what was a truly unique relationship between the band and its fans.

And that is why Hand In Glove is my all time favourite single by my all time favourite band.

And because it is my favourite, I was prepared to pay a fair amount of money to pick up a mint copy of the single on e-bay as a replacement for the one lost all those years ago in Edinburgh. Let’s face it, the b-side, which to my knowledge has never appeared on any subsequent compilation, is every bit as amazing:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Hand In Glove
mp3 : The Smiths – Handsome Devil (live at The Hacienda)

As with The Wedding Present, there would have been multiple entries for The Smiths in this chart were it not for the one single per artist rule that I set. In fact as much as one-quarter of the chart could have been a Morrissey/Marr compilation.

I surprised myself when I identified six other 45s that were even more of a favourite than this.

You’ll soon learn what they are over the coming days, but I suspect that many of you will be beginning to narrow it down pretty accurately.





For the second OCD EP, I have chosen The Smiths. Maybe I went a bit overboard with the foreshadowing in the previous installment, but I’ll leave that type of literary analysis to future generations of academics who choose to study the golden age of indie music blogging.

A much more challenging task to narrow things down this time, as over the years, quite a bit of previously unreleased material has been “leaked” on the internet – a couple sets of recordings from the aborted Troy Tate sessions for the debut album, unreleased BBC radio sessions, and various demos, outtakes and alternative versions of songs spanning the lifetime of the band. Everything in my Smiths’ library is generally accessible on the internet, so if you are hoping for A Matter of Opinion or the complete version of I Want a Boy for My Birthday, then I am sorry to disappoint you. For the most part, in what follows, I’ve chosen to focus on what I find interesting, not necessarily most enjoyable or better than the official released versions.

Side One

1. Accept Yourself (Troy Tate alternate vocal and piano version)

In his book “The Songs That Saved Your Life,” Simon Goddard mentions two different versions of Accept Yourself from the Troy Tate debut album sessions. Of this second version we have here, he says:

“…the second version being particularly impressive with its staccato rock ‘n’ roll piano punches during the pre-chorus breakdowns, Morrissey’s doubled vocal and some enlivening falsetto shrieks.”

There is certainly something to the piano work that could have found its way into later versions, but obviously didn’t. As for the alternative vocals, I suspect everyone involved was comfortable moving in a different direction.

2. The Queen Is Dead (original unedited version)

To be consistent with the overall theme of this EP, I should really put the trumpet version of Frankly, Mr. Shankly here. However, while unique, I just don’t find it that interesting a listen. So instead, here is the complete, high octane version of TQID, before the decision was made to trim it down a bit for the album. It’s all the greatness you’ve come to expect from the song, with 17% more free!

Side Two

3. Never Had No One Ever (studio outtake)

It’s not that I don’t like the album version of this song, it’s just that I Know It’s Over is a very tough act to follow. However, when I first heard this version with the extended trumpet solo and Morrissey’s moans and laughing, it was a complete revelation. There was a bluesy lounge song hidden there all this time just waiting to get out. This is one case where I think the alternative version (fully worked up) might actually have worked well in place of the official album track.

4. Sheila Take A Bow (original John Porter version)

I don’t really have anything to add to Analog Loyalist’s notes from when this track originally leaked:

“One of the more famous episodes in Smiths session history, this song was originally produced by John Porter, signed, sealed and delivered, ready to go. Then for whatever reason the band had a rethink, decamped to another studio with Stephen Street, and re-recorded the song (sampling some of Porter’s guitar work in the process, to save time – which miffed Porter, understandably, since they never asked for permission).

This original version is much more jangly, with Porter on emulated sitar, while the final Street take is all T.Rex‘ed out. Marr’s zingy guitars are all over the stereo field and it’s really a wonderful recording. It’s almost as if Porter knew this was the last time he’d be working with the band (it was), so he had Marr lay down 30 times more guitars than normal as a parting gift.”

5. Girlfriend In A Coma (early take)

It’s the Bob Marley version.




…..my best mate died after a two-year battle against leukaemia.  It was on Tuesday 12 April 2011. He was 46 years old. One of the things I did at the time was indicate that I was going to take a short break from blogging as I was physically and emotionally frazzled.

A few days later, I got an email from ctel, who as you know is responsible for the Acid Ted blog, telling me there had been more than 40 messages of sympathy left behind in the comments section and that this had inspired him to want to keep the then Vinyl Villain blog going during this difficult period for me.  (He had details of my log in and passwords as he had in the past stepped in with some emergency postings on a number of occasions when I’d unexpectedly been left with access to a PC or laptop).

Ctel put up the following:-

I only just read JC’s post about his best friend’s death from leukaemia and that he won’t be blogging until the end of this month. I’ve also read the comments on the post. But I thought that we could do more to show support.

I’d like anyone reading to send me a post and an accompanying track on the theme of happiness or sadness. Can be a song that gets you through sad times or one that shares the joy.

He gave details of how to get in touch with him before kicking things off by posting up a song he had dedicated to me on the day of my late brother’s funeral some nine months earlier (he had died in a car accident at the age of 43):-

mp3 : Orbital – Belfast/Wasted

I still can’t listen to this without getting a lump in my throat.  It’s an extraordinarily powerful and intense piece of music.

Over the next 30 days or so, the blog resounded to guest postings from all corners of the globe.  I would love to have been able to reproduce them once again, but the archives to which I have access are missing some six or seven of that particular series and it wouldn’t be right to only feature those that haven’t disappeared completely into cyberspace.

Google’s actions in destroying the old blog were unforgivable for a lot of reasons, but none more so for the fact that so many heartfelt words and sentiments are lost forever.

That so many did contribute has made me determined to have whatever blog(s) I’m involved in be as inclusive as possible, which is why I’m so proud of the fact that many of you have contributed an ICA.  But please, don’t feel you have to be restricted to that series….contributions on all matters are willingly accepted.

In the meantime, I’ll have a quiet reflection about my mate – I don’t think a single day has gone by in the past five years that I haven’t thought of him – but I’ll also take time to again appreciate everyone I’ve had contact with thanks to this blog.

My mate incidentally, was a professional footballer. With shite taste in music.  He couldn’t bear just about anything I listened to. This one particularly annoyed him:-

mp3 : The Smiths – This Charming Man

Cheers folks




This is loosely adapted and then expanded from a post over at the old place back in February 2010.

One of the minor reasons I ever started a blog was to bring attention to otherwise unavailable or difficult to find very fine records that had only ever been placed on the b-sides of long-deleted singles and while there is a growing tendency for album re-issues to bring together such tracks and label them ‘bonus’, nothing beat finding bits of vinyl with the crackly old originals.

One of the songs I really loved from my old vinyl days but had missed for many a year was Goodbye Joe, originally recorded as a b-side to a 1979 single :-

mp3 : The Monochrome Set – Goodbye Joe

It begins as if it is a live track, and one that is of poor sound quality at that. You can hear some crowd sing-a-long at the outset in what is clearly a small venue, then some cheering as a guitar as struck. After just under 50 seconds, lead singer Bid utters the words ‘Let’s Have Some Decorum’ and suddenly we switch to a quite gorgeous and moving studio track.

It’s about watching a film performance of this bloke here in case you were wondering.

Oh and for the record, the song was later recorded by Tracey Thorn, and again was consigned to obscurity on a 1982 b-side :-

mp3 : Tracey Thorn – Goodbye Joe

The original posting also featured the A-sides of the singles which, in Tracey’s case was also a beautiful piece of music:-

mp3 : Tracey Thorn – Plain Sailing

In the Feb 2010 posting I mentioned in passing how both of Tracey’s songs had featured heavily on compilation tapes in the era of 82/83/84 as a way to demonstrate to would-be girlfriends that I really did have a sensitive side but it never ever worked all that well. Seems I wasn’t alone in that failing as my good mate Dirk from Sexy Loser left behind the comment:-

“Yeah, mate: those tapes, ey?! I only wish I still would own a few of the dozens of them I made up back then with all my passion, heart and soul … instead I gave them away to girls who didn’t give a fuck. Literally.”

I remember that as being a genuine ‘splutter the tea all over the monitor’ moment when I read it. Still makes me smile………

And while I’m here, I just can’t resist:-

mp3 : The Style Council – The Paris Match (LP version)

Days of skinny-ribbed hooped t-shirts, a headful of perfectly coiffured hair and a devil-may-care attitude to life that I thought would last forever. How the fuck has Johnny Marr changed so little since those days???????

mp3 : The Smiths – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want




Hello JC,

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for many hours of music listening and informative post reading over the years. I’ve been using HypeMachine (as MrPharmacist) for what is now getting close to ten years, and you have always been my favourite blogger.

Apologies for never actually commenting on your posts, like many others out there just happy to consume, although wishing I had the drive to apply myself to a similar task.

The reason for this correspondence after all this time. I have a track that I have been listening to for over twenty years now and the tape is pretty much warn out…


I have never been able to ID it. I heard a chill out DJ play it once in a Manchester bar in about 1992 but can’t remember who he said it was. I’m pretty sure they were once on Granada local TV news as well. Could you give it a listen? One Dove meets Cocteau Twins, or it might have just been cash-in Ibiza ambience!

PS. A recently considered top 12 lps from Feb that say something to me about my life as press ganged into on facebook…

1. Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
2. The Cure – Pornography
3. The Smiths – Meat is Murder
4. Echo and the Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here
5. Conflict – The Ungovernable Force
6. Various – Dance Craze (Specials et al)
7. Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
8. The Fall – Bend Sinister
9. Elbow – Leaders Of The Free World
10. LFO – Frequencies
11. Metronomy – English Riviera
12. Happy Mondays – Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)

Thanks again for all your posts,

All the best,

Sid – DrSidders – Mr. Pharmacist


So please dear readers, click on the above youtube link and have a listen.  If you’re able to identify the tune then please share the knowledge with us.

And looking at Sid’s list of 12 albums gives me an excuse to feature  a song from the set I aired at the Strangeways night last Saturday

mp3 : The Smiths – Vicar In A Tutu

Dedicated to this very fine chap who came along dressed perfectly as the said vicar…….


Other pics, including some of me doing my best to add a touch of John Peel-esque farce* to the night have also been posted on t’internet.  Here’s an example:-


Quick PS

I ventured along the other night, with Aldo, to see Young Marble Giants at Stereo in Glasgow.  It seemingly was the first time the band had ever played in my home city.

For those of you who don’t know, this is a band which released just one album and a couple of EPs back in 1980 and 1981. The music is quite minimalist and on the quiet side and the songs are on the short side.

So much could have gone wrong at this gig.  Stereo was packed to the rafters so there was probably about 300 folk in the basement space. It was hot and it was sticky.

The band took to the stage at around 8.50 and played a note-perfect set for 50 minutes.  The audience paid rapt attention.  It was the first time I’d ever been at a pop/rock gig where the audience behaved as if it was a classical performance and didn’t speak as the band were playing and furthermore didn’t speak when the band members were talking in-between songs.  Nor did anyone go up to the bar and order drinks and so causing the staff to clank glass or cans or make the till bleep away.  This was all about 300 fans coming along to experience live music in its purest sense and it was quite magical.

So if you were part of that particular audience, a big thank you from this particular fan for making the occasion so wonderful.  It was also very clear that the band really appreciated things….

mp3 : Young Marble Giants – Wurlitzer Jukebox
mp3 : Young Marble Giants – Eating Noddemix


* where the great man occasionally played a record at the wrong speed, I managed to press play on two songs at the same time on the laptop causing all sorts of confusion for a few seconds…….




Have I ever mentioned that I’m a big fan of The Smiths and Morrissey?

It should therefore come as no surprise that I am recommending the above  as an event not to be missed

Strangeways Glasgow  is a club night dedicated to the music of Moz and The Smiths with the occasional associated track thrown in for good measure and variety. It’s an event that has been going for a number of years thanks to the hard work and dedication of a small group of Glasgow-based uber-fans with maybe three or four shows in a calendar year, albeit the guys have become so well-known and appreciated that they are often asked to appear in other towns and cities across the UK at various points in time.

All the profits from the Strangeways Glasgow nights are always donated to a charitable cause and in this particular instance it will be to the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs Home which suffered a genuine tragedy a few weeks back. The music and the cause alone should be enough to make you fancy parting with the £5 for a ticket.  But there’s something more this time…………….whisper it.

I’m doing a stint on whatever the modern-day equivalent is of the wheels of steel.

Yup. Fatboy Jim will be doing his thing for the first time since 2010 when Drew from Across the Kitchen Table talked me into being part of a triumvirate of Scottish bloggers to do some stuff at the Flying Duck in Glasgow.

Actually, I was thinking that since this will be my first bit of DJing since I turned 50 that I should update my name to something like Grandfather Flash but the connotations of that name right now are just too much to bear given the number of awful sex scandals in the UK featuring DJs dead and alive.  So I’ll simply be at the Strangeways night as JC (aka The Vinyl Villain).

The invite has come courtesy of a very wonderful and lovely gentlemen called Robert who, along with Carlo and their respective partners Jen and Angela, have been the driving force behind Strangeways Glasgow over the years.  I got to know them initially through going along to another wonderful club night – Little League – and was thrilled by the fact that they knew about my blog and were fans of what I was writing about and featuring.

They kept telling me that I should get myself along to Strangeways but I had shied away as I wasn’t sure if I could go an entire night dedicated to Moz, especially as I had this pre-conceived idea that while Robert and Carlo were very decent down to earth folk the rest of the clientele would surely consist of hardcore fans made up of look-alikes standing around demanding to be noticed.  It took me until March earlier this year to go along and realise how wrong I had been. I wrote about the experience at the time. Click here if you’re interested.

I made it along to the next night back in August which is where the idea of me taking a turn playing some tunes was talked about and agreed.  It seemed like a good idea at the time and it still does.

But I’m happy to admit that I’m nervous.  But very very very excited and honoured.

mp3 : The Smiths – Panic
mp3 : Morrissey – Dear God Please Help Me

Tickets are still available but the night inevitably sells out. Click here if you’re tempted



As I mentioned yesterday, I do quite like it when bands take one of their own songs and give them substantial makeovers for the subsequent single release. But what I also like is when someone decides that their cover version of a song will involve a complete reinterpretation so that you hear it in a completely new light. Billy Bragg did such a thing to a Morrissey/Marr song a fair bit back:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Jeane

This was one of band’s first ever releases, turning up on the b-side of the second single This Charming Man in 1983. We now know all these years later that it is the only track the band ever got round to releasing from the aborted LP sessions recorded with Troy Tate but at the time it was just regarded as a great b-side which you could put on and have a great little dance to. It was the music that stood out more than the lyric.

A year later, the band re-recorded the song alongside Sandie Shaw. The slowed-down version did draw a bit more attention to the lyric but to this fan, it was still very much about the tune and how Johnny had got something different out of the song this time round.

Fast forward two more years and Billy Bragg, having already played the song a few times in his live sets as well as recording a frantic almost speed-fuelled version for a Peel Session in August 1985

mp3 : Billy Bragg – Jeane (Peel Session)

then puts down another version as the b-side to Greetings To The New Brunette in 1986:-

mp3 : Billy Bragg – Jeane

This is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. This is when you get to fully appreciate the story of a love affair doomed to failure as a result of, above else, grinding poverty. The fact that the protagonists had to work so hard at merely surviving every day of their sad and miserable lives, wondering where the next meal will come from and how they can afford to heat the house they live in, left no time for the nicer things in life. They did try….but they ultimately failed.

All of this was lost with the original version as we flailed around the living room or dance halls throwing our best Morrissey shapes. With a tune this good, who needs to think about the message? And then along came Billy to reduce us all to tears…..

Jeane could very easily pass itself off as a Leonard Cohen lyric. Discuss.



Not only is this a fantastically funny, upbeat and wonderful single, you flip it over and find two quite special b-sides:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Sheila Take A Bow
mp3 : The Smiths – Is It Really So Strange?
mp3 : The Smiths – Sweet and Tender Hooligan

Here’s some facts and background info.

It was released in April 1987, reaching No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart, their highest chart single placing while The Smiths were together.

Morrissey‘s original idea had been to bring back Sandie Shaw to be a second vocalist on the track but after she had recorded her vocals, that version was scrapped. Sandie was not happy in being reduced to what she perceived just to be a backing vocalist. Another early version of the track was produced by John Porter but it was also deemed unsatisfactory, this time by the band. It featured a prominent sitar-sounding riff:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Sheila Take A Bow (John Porter version)

Stephen Street came on board. He scrapped the sitar (which had been played by Porter) and instead used a brief audio clip of a marching temperance band from the 1954 film Hobson’s Choice in the song’s intro.

Oh and to complete the catalogue of woes, the scheduled promo video had to be scrapped at the 11th hour when Morrissey refused to show up for the taping.

The two b-sides were lifted from a John Peel session recorded and aired in late December 1986. Just as well as the band never got round to recording and releasing their own studio versions of what are rather outstanding songs.

In the midst of life we are in debt, etc.


Keeping It Peel - October 25th



and in particular:-


mp3 : Arab Strap – The First Big Peel Thing (Peel Session)
mp3 : Billy Bragg – Lover’s Town (Peel Session)
mp3 : Cinerama – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Delgados – No Danger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Mr Cave’s A Window Cleaner Now (Peel Session)
mp3 : Madness _ Bed & Breakfast Man (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (Peel Session)
mp3 : T.Rex – Ride A White Swan (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Wire – I Am The Fly (Peel Session)




The first of a new series.

It’s inspired in part by the fact that a framed limited edition copy of the above print, signed by the photographer, hangs directly above the space in my house where I have the PC and where I try my best to come up with entertaining words for this blog. It was given to me a year ago yesterday as a 50th birthday present by a dear friend and occasional contributor to the old blog, Mr John Greer.

It’s strange that while The Smiths remain my all time favourite band, I don’t write about them all that much these days, albeit there is a regular series on Morrissey being re-used as filler for posts on Sundays. I thought I’d address the situation by featuring the band in the first of what will be a very occasional series in which I take one of my favourite bands or singers and list what I think would make the idea ‘Best of’ album with a few words on why. The only proviso is that I’m going to do it as a proper old-fashioned LP…10 tracks in total with an A-side and a B-side and it’s got to hang together like a proper LP and not just a collection of greatest hits. Without further ado, here’s my go at The Smiths:-

Side A

1. The Queen Is Dead (Original Unedited Version)
2. Still Ill
3. How Soon Is Now?
4. Rubber Ring
5. Asleep

Side B

1. The Headmaster Ritual
2. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
3. Accept Yourself
4. Bigmouth Strikes Again
5. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

It’s taken about three hours of humming and hawing and numerous changes of mind before I settled on the above. There are loads of songs that I can’t believe didn’t make the final cut which may well invite ridicule from other fans. But the logic is:-

1. The opening track is where any myth that The Smiths were just a singer and guitarist augmented by two session musicians is nailed once and for all….especially on this version with its extra 70 seconds or so of pulsating drums, bass and wah-wah guitar work

2. Self-deprecating and joyous; and impossible not to dance to.

3. Pride of place as the centrepiece of the all-important opening side of the album.

4. The band were better than most at recording something which, on the first few listens, sounded disposable and throwaway and yet with the passing of time revealed itself as something special. Rubber Ring is a tremendous example of this and perfectly complements what had come just before it on this imaginary LP

5. Because Asleep has to follow Rubber Ring. It is the law. And besides it’s time to show the band didn’t need guitars to be very special.

6. If the band had never written and recorded The Queen Is Dead then this was a stick-on to open the LP

7. Every LP recorded by The Smiths had its share of tear-jerking ballads. This is the one I’ve chosen, after much deliberation.

8. An early song thrown away on a 12″ b-side that has more than stood the test of time and long been a personal favourite

9. The song that marked the comeback after 18 months inactivity. It proved they still had it…and a joyous single that deserved to reach #1

10. It’s not a personal favourite but I can’t think of a better way to have a one-off record by the band beautifully fade out and leaving the listener wanting to pick up the vinyl, turn it over and start all over again.

mp3 : The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (Original Unedited Version)
mp3 : The Smiths – Still Ill
mp3 : The Smiths – How Soon Is Now?
mp3 : The Smiths – Rubber Ring/Asleep
mp3 : The Smiths – The Headmaster Ritual
mp3 : The Smiths – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
mp3 : The Smiths – Accept Yourself
mp3 : The Smiths – Bigmouth Strikes Again
mp3 : The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

That was incredibly difficult to do.




A few years ago, a couple of folk I knew from the Little League events decided that a night dedicated to The Smiths and Morrissey would be a good idea.   I’ve long-planned to get myself along, but for one reason or other it just never happened until last Friday night when Aldo made sure of it by purchasing a ticket for me in advance.

Even then, I almost never made it along.  I was very tired after a hard few days at work and wasn’t sure if a night in basement venue beneath one of Glasgow’s best pubs was really what I was after.

One of the things I most feared was that it would be a hardcore crowd made up of Morrissey look-a-likes standing around just trying to pose and be noticed.  There were a handful of such creatures, but the vast majority of the 200 souls who were lucky enough to get tickets were there for a great night out on the dancefloor.  I wasted little time joining in despite the fact that I had told Aldo beforehand that in an effort to pace myself I had mentally drawn up a list of songs that were certainties for dancing to and a list (including some of the better-known band and solo material) that were strict no-nos.  I got carried away (as I feared!!) and danced myself dizzy, mostly without the aid of alcohol to throw off any inhibitions as I was very quickly onto bottles of water to stop the dehydration.  

Even when the DJs played non-Moz material I couldn’t drag myself off the floor – not when you get stuff like The Wedding Present, The Cure and Associates thrown in….and as the night went on I knew I’d pay the price the following morning when I’d inevitably wake up with another realisation that I’m not as young or fit as I used to be and that I really out to know better at my age.

And all this despite me leaving more than an hour before the end of the event to catch the last train just after midnight and so missing what  many of the showstoppers that the younger Aldo was able to shake his frame to before the lights came up.

The next Strangeways night will be in August 2014.  Details will be unveiled at this facebook page (where incidentally a photo of my good self taken last Friday night can also be found).

So a huge thanks to Robert, Carlo, Angela and Hugh for a magnificent and memorable evening, made all the more special by the fact that all proceeds, as with all the Strangeways events, went to a local charity with a second charity benefiting from food bank donations on the night.

Sadly, the laptop that was used to supply the tunes for the evening was missing a few of the more obscure b-side cover versions which meant my request for the one that matched my t-shirt couldn’t be realised.  I’ve been promised it will feature next time….so I better get myself along to make sure….and next time I will finish the night along with everyone else.

mp3 : Morrissey – A Song From Under The Floorboards

It’s a good version.  But nothing can ever hope to match the original….

mp3 : Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards