Released in February 1988, a matter of months after The Smiths had split-up, Suedehead was not only adored by fans but critically acclaimed in the press – unlike many subsequent singles and LPs.
The music on the single, and its additional tracks, was written by Stephen Street, who up to that point in time was known only as a record producer. Street also played bass guitar on the record. Lead guitar duties (as well as keyboards) were undertaken by Vini Reilly, better known as the brains and talent behind cult Factory Records act The Durutti Column, while the drums were pounded by session musician Andrew Paresi (his previous best-known work was with 80s UK pop act Bucks Fizz).
Such is the craft in particular of the hugely talented Reilly that Suedehead could very easily pass as a single by The Smiths, and there’s no doubt that this contributed enormously to Morrissey’s debut single reaching #5 in the UK singles charts – a position much higher than any single released by his former band. (It remained his biggest chart hit in terms of any single until 2004)
The initial critical acclaim continued over the coming weeks and months thanks to the release of debut LP Viva Hate, which also had a number of songs that sounded as if they were the work of his former band. However, some journalists, and indeed fans, took Morrissey to task over some of the lyrical content and subject matters of songs on Viva Hate, and I reckon its fair to say that he was never so widely regarded and loved ever again.
But getting back to Suedehead……It’s a single that still sounds great 26 years after its release, and that’s down to the combination of Morrissey singing as well as he’s ever done, the fact that Vini Reilly chose in effect to pay tribute to Johnny Marr and indeed the musical and production skills of Stephen Street.
If ever Morrissey had any doubts about the break-up of The Smiths, these would surely have been swept aside by the reaction to this single and indeed the b-sides (from the vinyl anyway) which are also among the most popular solo recordings in what is now a very lengthy career. Indeed there are some who say it all went downhill from here…..
mp3 : Morrissey – Suedehead
mp3 : Morrissey – I Know Very Well How I Got My Name
mp3 : Morrissey – Hairdresser On Fire
mp3 : Morrissey – Oh Well, I’ll Never Learn
The first 3 songs are on the 12″ version of the single but the last was exclusive to the CD single.
Oh and the cover star is a very intense (and thin) Morrissey from a photo taken at a London gig by The Smiths back in 1986.
Finally, here’s a cover version which you will either love or loath:-
mp3 : Vini Reilly – Hairdresser On Fire
Rumour has it that Morrissey, on hearing this, decided on the spot to end his working relationship with Vini….