Category Archives: The Smiths

johnny marr covers depeche mode for record store day

Johnny Marr will release numbered limited edition 7” singles of “I Feel You” for Record Store Day on April 18th. The b-side is a live version of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.”

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hear/download rare smiths rehearsal tape from 1983

 

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With the recent album remasters, Johnny Marr’s solo album, Morrissey’s bleeding ulcer and persistently false reunion rumors, The Smiths have been in the news pretty often lately for a band that’s been defunct for 25 years. Here’s another reason to revisit their greatness — a rare rehearsal cassette recording has surfaced from May 1983, nearly a year before the release of their debut.

It’s rough around the edges, but it’s an amazing snapshot of a band that seems to have been at the height of its powers from conception. User bellapintura posted the tape at a Smiths forum earlier this week, with this back story:

In May 1983 (exact date unknown), while preparing to record their first album, The Smiths ran through a selection of songs at a rehearsal in a room in manager Joe Moss’ jeans warehouse. The tape was recorded for Troy Tate, in order to give him something to work with before going into the studio. It’s pretty rough but considering it was only recorded on cassette with a stereo mic pointing into the room, the quality isn’t too bad. Morrissey’s vocals are a bit distorted – maybe singing too close to the mic or maybe the cassette mic was too close to the PA – but everything else is surprisingly clear. There is some tape flutter at various points.

I was lent the master cassette by a source close to the band who made the recording – let’s call him Pablo Cuckoo – in 1997, with a view to trying to put it out as a semi official release, as it was recorded before the band had signed to Rough Trade, so technically he had the rights to the recording. But a combination of the poor sound quality and threats from Warner Bros, meant that the idea was shelved. The master cassette was transferred to DAT at that time but the DAT copy disappeared shortly afterwards. To my surprise it resurfaced a few weeks ago while I was going through some boxes of old tapes. The quality is a lot better than I’d remembered too!

If you’re into the torrent thing, grab it here (you’ll have to register with the forum). Otherwise, you can stream it below thanks to youtuber hipsterdisco. To imagine such legendary figures banging through this virginal material in a cramped rehearsal space with just a lone microphone to capture it is fascinating. Enjoy:

(new link – thanks somedizzywhore)

Track list:

  1. You’ve Got Everything Now
  2. Accept Yourself [04:26]
  3. What Difference Does It Make [08:46]
  4. Reel Around The Fountain [12:52]
  5. These Things Take Time [19:28]
  6. I Don’t Owe You Anything [22:37]
  7. Hand In Glove [28:06]
  8. Handsome Devil [31:04]
  9. Miserable Lie [34:11]

johnny marr reddit 'ama' recap

 
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So yesterday guitar icon and God-like Genuis Johnny Marr did the “Ask Me Anything” bit on Reddit. The site can be rather clunky, so I cherry picked the best parts for your multimedia enjoyment right here. If you want to see the whole thread, do so here — or just skim Marr’s answers here.

He gave some insight into his personal tastes (including a little known punk band from Lyon, France) and many band experiences, all the while confirming that he’s amongst the coolest people to have ever lived. Cheers.

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watch new johnny marr single 'the messenger'

 

The incomparable Johnny Marr will finally release his solo debut early next year (evidently Boomslang was a “Healers” album). Recorded in Manchester and Berlin and mastered at Abbey Road, The Messenger is the guitar icon’s first real crack at a post-Smiths artistic statement.

The title track and first single pretty well encapsulates what he’s been up to since his break-up with Morrissey. There are the slightly jangly hooks from his days with Modest Mouse and The Cribs mixed with the atmospherics and studio polish of Electronic.

His vocals are more confident — and more processed — than his work with The Healers, but they’re secondary to the fretwork. The song begins simply enough, but the bassline groove helps build to a densely layered finish highlighted by handclaps and a trippy backward guitar solo:

Not necessarily groundbreaking, but more than enough to leave me wanting for more. The Messenger arrives February 26th on Warner Bros.

colbert vs. morrissey

 

Certainly Morrissey knew what he was getting into on the Colbert Report, but he couldn’t have known how relentless Stephen Colbert would be. Last night, the notoriously cranky Moz was peppered with questions that hit every one of his hot buttons: the Royal Family, the Queen, vegetarianism, The Smiths.

It’s an utterly hilarious interview, equally satisfying because of Colbert’s fearlessness and Morrissey’s ever so slightly bitter bemusement. Watch:

For his musical number on the broadcast, Morrissey went with his not-so-vaguely political lament “People Are The Same Everywhere”:

For the web exclusive tune, Morrissey chose the first single from his last album, “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris”:

Meanwhile, Morrissey continues his North American tour, with the first of three sold-out dates in New York City tonight at Radio City Music Hall.

and the best smiths song of all time is…

 

Your votes have been counted. After beginning with 32 Smiths classics, the championship came down to the top 2 seeds: “How Soon Is Now?” and “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.” And in a somewhat shocking landslide, the underdog lovesick ballad defeated perhaps the most identifiable “new wave” song of the 80’s.

Perhaps “How Soon Is Now?” suffered from being overplayed, but there’s no question that “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” has been unscientifically proven to be the greatest Smiths song of all time. So let’s allow it a moment of glory…  a victory lap if you will. We’ll start with a fine cover released earlier this year by the Dum Dum Girls:

A more classic cover — at least in my book — is this one by the “American Smiths,” The Ocean Blue:

We’ll wrap up the covers with a lovely live version from Marr disciple Noel Gallagher:

For an idea of how much this song touches people, check out this live performance by Morrissey from a 2004 Manchester festival:

Further back in time, here’s a Smiths TV appearance from ’86. Completely fantastic in every way:

And finally, here’s a (bootleg, shhhhh) download from the Unreleased Demos & Outtakes vinyl that appeared around this time last year. Recorded in September of ’85, the title should be pretty self explanatory:

The Smiths – “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (take 1)”

Hope you enjoyed this little diversion. Maybe we’ll do it again down the road for the likes of The Cure and New Order. Cheers to “There Is A Light…”!

UPDATE
Navigate the bracket here:

vote: the smiths best song — championship

 

The votes fell as expected in the final four of The Smiths best song bracket. We began with 32 songs, and now we’re down to two. And after much wrangling with my suspect seeding practices, I am vindicated with the championship coming down to the top two seeds.

The Cinderella run of “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” and the sentimental support for “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” weren’t enough to topple the true heavyweights of The Smiths canon.

VS.

So what’s it going to be Smiths fans? The dance floor mope of “How Soon Is Now?” or the suicidal love song “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”?

Vote now for the unscientifically definitive Smiths song of all time!

UPDATE
Navigate the bracket here:

vote: the smiths best song — final four

 

With my attention turned to the 2011 year-end list, this little experiment took a back seat for a bit. But I’ve gotten plenty of positive feedback, so we can’t leave things unfinished. Your votes have been counted through Round 1, Round 2 and the quarterfinals… now we’re down to the final four.

Looking at the top side of the bracket, it’s no surprise to see top seed “How Soon Is Now?” — but “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” is a total Cinderella that will certainly see its run end here, right?

VS.

On the bottom of the bracket, it’s played out as expected with the 2nd and 3rd seeds coming through. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” was relatively unscathed, but “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” survived a couple of close calls the last two rounds. Will its luck continue?

VS.

Vote now and we’ll crown a champion next week!

UPDATE
Navigate the bracket here: