I can’t exactly remember what the gap is between the first Indie Top 20 and Volume 2 – think it could be seven months – but in that time, the music world was rapidly changing. The key change was the demise of The Smiths. I read it in the NME at the beginning of August and was absolutely floored by the news. For the previous three years, I played their records more often than anybody else – indeed, my diary for 1986 shows that I spun The Queen Is Dead 37 times during the first week of ownership. After the split was announced, the final run of releases began with Girlfriend In A Coma. Shelagh Delaney in the house.
Here are some random thoughts on The Smiths’ back catalogue and subsequent treatment of same via the reissue, repackage channels. Let’s start with The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. Originally the 45 version appeared on The World Won’t Listen but was replaced by the album mix on later pressings, including the 2011 reissues. Songs That Saved Your Life outlines the differences: “The album version features extra guitar overdubs as well as an additional string arrangement. The two takes are easily distinguishable at 0:07; a symphonic surge pre-empts Morrissey’s opening line on The Queen Is Dead version, whereas the original single mix bears only the plain marimba three-note scale up.”
I bought the deluxe edition of The Smiths’ Complete. The vinyl reissues sound really good and the 25 7″ singles are lovely. BUT they use the album version of Boy…. and the Reel Around The Fountain 7″ uses the Peel Session version instead of the Troy Tate mix. So the box isn’t Complete. From memory it doesn’t have the following on CD so you need to look elsewhere. Some are on multiple releases but I’ve just listed the most “logical” one.
Handsome Devil (7″ B-Side version) – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
Jeane – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
Accept Yourself – This Charming Man CD single Part 1
Wonderful Woman – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
This Charming Man (London) – This Charming Man CDS Part 2
This Charming Man (New York Remix) – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
This Charming Man (New York Remix Instrumental) – This Charming Man CDS Part 2
This Charming Man (Single Remix) – This Charming Man CDS Part 2
What Difference Does It Make (Edit)
How Soon Is Now (Edit) – How Soon Is Now CDS
Barbarism Begins At Home (Edit) – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
Nowhere Fast (Live Oxford 18/3/85) – The Headmaster Ritual CDS
Stretch Out And Wait (Live Oxford 18/3/85) – The Headmaster Ritual CDS
Shakespeare’s Sister (Live Oxford 18/3/85)
Meat Is Murder (Live Oxford 18/3/85) – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (Single Version) – The Very Best Of The Smiths
The Draize Train – Panic CDS
Ask (Single Version) – The Very Best Of The Smiths
Work Is A Four Letter Word (7″ Mix)
Work Is A Four Letter Word (12″ Mix) – Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before CDS
I Keep Mine Hidden – Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before CDS
Pretty Girls Make Graves (Demo) – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others (Live) – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out CDS
What’s The World (Live) – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me (Edit) – The Sound Of The Smiths 2CD edition
William It Was Really Nothing (Peel Session) – Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me CDS
Rusholme Ruffians (Peel Session) – Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me CDS
Nowhere Fast (Peel Session) – Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me CDS
So there are three tracks that are still MIA or unavailable on CD. The 7″ edit of What Difference Does It Make was included on Now That’s What I Call Music II but I don’t hold out too much hope of them getting it right even if it does get reissued. The Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before CD single was released on the West German Line Records label. Virgin in Dublin had that on import in 1987 – it was £19.99 (!). Ask is a weird one. The original single mix is 2:59. The album version is 3:18. However the single mix on The Very Best Of The Smiths is actually in between – it’s 3:10. The two single mixes have the vocal track lasting until the end of the song. The backing vocals are louder and mixed slightly differently. The album version fades out later and has the vocal track ending before the fade begins. The 2:59 mix is on The Complete Picture VHS / DVD. Christmas 1988 saw all the 12″ singles repressed and new fangled CD singles in the shops. The 12″s shifted quite a bit; the CDs less so – think they were about £6.99 here so pricey.
Basically eight of The Smiths’ singles had unique single edits (there was only one version of the other songs).The eight are:
Hand In Glove
This Charming Man
What Difference Does It Make
How Soon Is Now?
That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me
The 1995 Singles album only includes one of these – This Charming Man – which is also readily available elsewhere. It’s flawed from the very start – kicking off with the album version (“remixed by John Porter”) of Hand In Glove.
While it was a relief to see Indie Top Volume 2 being released on double LP as opposed to being cassette-only, a CD version would have been a nice option for those of us who already owned (some of) these songs on vinyl. Nevertheless, the audio quality is decent with only five tunes per side. We go Grebo for track 1, the searing sound of Crazyhead’s What Gives You The Idea That You’re So Amazing Baby?, the single mix has much more energy than the LP. An idea that shouldn’t really work but did was Pop Will Eat Itself covering Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Love Missile F1-11 was only 12 months old & is transformed with muscular riffs and an interesting rap. Speaking of which, we venture into this genre on Three Wise Men’s one dimensional Refresh Yourself. Also on Rhythm King but much better are Renegade Soundwave with their debut Kray Times, all rambling punky chaos. Obscurity knocks for Bambi Slam on the intensely melodic Don’t It Make You Feel?
Shambling strummers unite! It’s the Close Lobsters with the charming Never Seen Before. Veterans of the first volume, The Flatmates return as new and improved on Happy All The Time, a catchy and speedy burst of jangle pop. The bar is now raised by The Pastels and the absolute classic masterpiece that is Crawl Babies. Anorak rock with a childlike twist.
“I wanna build her up
Up as tall as a church
Just to watch her
Just to watch her falling down”
I remember when I bought Up For A Bit; I kept dropping the needle back to Crawl Babies. A song that would make you want to hit the indie disco in your pyjamas. Ten years later, they’d headline the worst gig of my life. All grown up, the dream dashed. Moving on, side 2 closes with two more bands that also graced the first instalment. The Soup Dragons’ Head Gone Astray is less immediate than Hang Ten but repeated plays and a fine rhythm guitar do their magic. And it’s that difficult fourth single for Hector’s favourites Mighty Mighty as the perform Built Like A Car with serious chops and a nifty drum break right at the end.
The second half begins with some hip house & deadly piano; The Beatmasters and Cookie Crew’s Rok Da House, a track which became massive in early 1988 and is immortalised on side 4 of Now That’s What I Call Music 11. While The Beloved’s star wouldn’t really rise until the Happiness era of 1989/1990, Forever Dancing is an excellent effort, all scratchy beats and prominent guitars. We’re back in the purity of indie next with The Chesterfields’ wry Ask Johnny Dee. Familiar to most Dublin music fans, John Dee was Freebird Records most enduring employee, dispensing musical knowledge and Manchester City discussion under a haze of Marlboro smoke. You can read more this great record shop during its heyday in my review of Now That’s What I Call Music 1999 – The Millennium Series. Birds of a feather flock together as Voice Of The Beehive are coupled with All About Eve. Just A City is polished but doesn’t gel with me whereas Our Summer always played a little half-baked – somewhat like an inferior In Tua Nua.
The Texas Campfire Tapes, the first journey for Michelle Shocked was a favourite of Dave Fanning listeners back in 1986/1987. Especially the bearded lads with glasses who thought Galway was cooler than Dublin. If Love Was A Train is competent bluesy folk but nothing to get excited about. The twang continues on the next number, the Passmore Sisters’ rustic but unconvincing Every Child In Heaven. Also upping their game on this volume were The Blue Aeroplanes and their literate out of sorts rock, Tolerance. The mood lightens with the razor sharp wit of Brian Rix, possibly the Brilliant Corners’ finest moment, jaunty pop with a smile. “It’s just you remind me of Brian Rix, when you pull down your trousers it sends me in fits.” Finally the closing song could be described as the sound of C86 growing up – Talulah Gosh’s eponymous third single, a well-produced slice of driving yet resigned melancholia. Parts of it make me incredibly sad – the balloons in the video, seeing Fat Mat, the line: “All the things she does, written in her diary
But when the day is done, she cannot tell the truth.”
When it speeds up before the chorus, I get nostalgic for a future that never materialised.
The Pastels – Crawl Babies
Talulah Gosh – Talulah Gosh
The Brilliant Corners – Brian Rix
Lest we forget
Renegade Soundwave – Kray Twins