Monday, December 27, 2010

ET(aatb) 03: RTT136 "This Charming Man"


[Link removed 20 November 2012] (68.4 MB)

"This Charming Man"
Rough Trade RTT136
Produced by John Porter
(except 2 produced by Troy Tate)
(tracks 6-7 remix Francois Kevorkian @ Right Track Studios, New York)
October/December 1983

Tracks:

1 This Charming Man (Manchester)
2 Jeane
3 Accept Yourself
4 Wonderful Woman
5 This Charming Man (London)
6 This Charming Man (New York Vocal)
7 This Charming Man (New York Instrumental)
8 This Charming Man (Single Remix)

Sources:

1-4
from "This Charming Man" WEA YZ0001CD1, 1992
5-8 from
"This Charming Man" WEA YZ0001CD2, 1992

Restoration:

Gentle EQ as needed, a smidgen of tasteful noise reduction if required, and very cautious, gentle peak limiting.

Artwork for this, and every other release we'll be featuring, was sourced from the amazing
Vulgar Picture treasure trove of sleeve artwork scans (with permission).

Notes:

As production was running up on the soon-to-be-abandoned "Reel Around The Fountain" single, the band was still busily writing new material. In a 24-hour timespan Marr came up with two classic tracks, shortly before a September 1983 Peel Session: "Still Ill" and "This Charming Man". Chuffed with the quality of these two new tracks, the band recorded them for the first time for Peel, and upon hearing "TCM", Rough Trade supremo Geoff Travis immediately new what the next single should be.
This was John Porter's first production with the band. It was also the first recording with Marr laying a million guitar tracks down on the recording; one can argue that had Porter not worked on this record, the Smiths - and specifically Johnny Marr - would not have ultimately received all the acclaim now given.
There are "Manchester" and "London" versions (we'll discuss "New York" in a moment) because immediately after the Peel recording session, the band and Porter attempted to record the single in a London studio. Not happy with the results, and with Geoff Travis wanting a more Northern sound, the band regrouped in Manchester a week later and re-recorded the whole thing. So the "Manchester" version became the well-known single, and the "London" version appeared on the 12" as a B-side. "Accept Yourself" and "Wonderful Woman" both came from the London sessions, while "Jeane" was a remnant from the Troy Tate sessions (apparently always being tagged as a B-side track).
New York producer Francois Kevorkian was then handed the multitracks to follow U2's lead in making "New York" versions for club airings; hence the two "New York" variants. While one may laugh at the ultimate dancefloor usefulness of these tracks, allegedly Morrissey and Marr despised them and blamed Travis for releasing this against their wishes. I don't buy it for a second, but that's revisionism for you. More reconstructions than remixes, I don't mind either NY variant, but as far as the canon goes, they're eminently disposable.
Tracks 3, 5, 7 and 8 are no longer officially available, as they last saw release on the now out-of-print 1992 WEA singles.

Artwork

I've fixed the typo on the sleeve for Hand In Glove. For future reference, all the artwork files are uploaded to my Flickr stream, so you can grab them there. Click on the image you want to replace, and go to actions > view all sizes > original, then click download.

Handy hint: you can often get a sneak peek at what's coming if you check Flickr. The artwork goes up there before the files go online.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

News! followup

I was going to post this a comment to the News! post, but felt it was long enough and of interest enough to bring it forward to its own piece...

To address some supposed doubts as to this material, really, all you have to do is visit the Moz Solo website linked in the original post, download the material (it's in the very first post in the thread) and listen. That should erase all doubts - and for even better truthiness (thanks Colbert!), do so with a copy of the Simon Goddard Songs That Saved Your Life at hand.

For those without said book, here's a track-by-track rundown of this amazing bootleg...

1 The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (John Porter monitor mix)
Not much different from the final LP version, a monitor mix is a rough-and-ready mixdown done at the recording desk, mainly used by the band (and producer) to see what needs tightening/redoing (if anything) prior to the final mixdown.

2 Reel Around The Fountain (final Troy Tate mix)
Pretty self explanatory, the main difference between this blog's version and the bootleg version is the subtle guitar intro. 

3 Rusholme Ruffians (early electric version, July 1984)
Goddard says the band originally attempted this in July 1984, several months prior to the main Meat Is Murder sessions. The very first July 1984 take stretched to nearly 7 minutes long (ding!), was much more rough/ready, and much more skiffle/rockabilly (ding!) than the final MIM track. Moz's vocal is really rough around the edges, it doesn't sound like he's fully worked out the melody or his phrasing, and the lyric itself isn't as tight as it would become. Based on this it can only be assumed the version here is the very same first take mentioned by Goddard.

4 The Queen Is Dead (original full-length unedited version)
Well, if the subtitle doesn't nail it down... the final album mix had several instrumental sections edited out at the last minute by the band and Stephen Street, as they felt it went on a tad too long. This is the full-calorie version.

5 Sheila Take A Bow (original John Porter recording, January 1987)
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. Honestly, I'd have to say I prefer the Street version, though that could be due to familiarity more than anything else (as I usually love Porter's stuff with Marr).

6 This Night Has Opened My Eyes (unreleased studio recording, June 1984)
The only released version of this song was recorded in September 1983 for a Peel session, at the BBC. For whatever reason the band chose to record a full-blown studio version in June 1984 during the William, It Was... sessions, but never did anything with it (it was meant to be a B-side along with the July '84 Rusholme Ruffians recording, backing a proposed-yet-binned Nowhere Fast single which also was recorded in June/July 1984). If anything, time gave Moz a chance to get a bit more confident with his vocal, but it's not significantly different overall. Still a nice find though...

7 I Misses You (unreleased instrumental, edit, December 1984)
Recorded during the final mixdown sessions for the Meat Is Murder LP. Goddard surmises that this may have even featured a Moz lyric at one point, but this is only supposition. A track that the band binned, honestly while interesting as any "new" Morrissey/Marr track might be, it would be moreso with a Moz lyric and is mostly forgettable.

8 Ask (probable first-ever take, 9 June 1986)
A very early, if not the first if Goddard's correct, run-through of this track missing most of the chiming/jangly guitars. This is a basic rough-and-ready bash it out take recorded by John Porter, with Marr and Gannon going at it on the rhythm guitars and Joyce getting all frenetic on drums. Wisely, a lot was tightened up as the session progressed; alas, this isn't the hoped-for "pre-Steve Lillywhite mix" fans hoped for (which sadly, according to Porter, doesn't exist because he never actually got the opportunity to mix it before Lillywhite got his hands on it and didn't understand the complex web of guitars Porter had built up).

9 There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (early take, September 1985)
A very early run-through with a relatively-confident Moz vocal, though it does feature the subsequently-omitted defining lyric "there is a light in your eye and it never goes out" during the final refrain. Missing most of Marr's overdubs, musically it sounds like a rough monitor mix of the basic Marr/Rourke/Joyce instrumentation, with the added synthetic string bits on the Emulator.

10 Is It Really So Strange? (unreleased studio take, June 1986)
Another track which has its only released version being a BBC session version, the known-and-loved release variant was recorded in December 1986 for John Peel at the BBC. Interestingly though, they did have a fully-recorded, mixed, release-ready take in the can, recorded during the Panic sessions in June 1986. For whatever reason it remained binned, to the point when it came time to select B-sides for the Sheila single in spring 1987, the band went to the (admittedly superior) Peel recording rather than the June 1986 studio take. This version is a bit more shimmery than the common version, and Marr's guitar is a bit more rhythmically choppy than the BBC take.

11 Frankly, Mr Shankly (unreleased Stephen Street "trumpets" recording, November 1985)
The story has it that when this song was recorded during the main sessions for the Queen Is Dead LP, with Street, there was a technical problem with the master reels for this track, necessitating an emergency call to John Porter to engineer an 11th hour re-recording in December 1985. What wasn't discovered (at least publicly), until Goddard dug it up, was that the "technical problem" was a bizarro trumpet part on the track. It does introduce an additional element of hilarity, but the final Porter recording nails it.

12 Shoplifters Of The World Unite (instrumental)
Goddard doesn't go into much detail into this track's session history, unfortunately. It's an instrumental, with some additional Marr-riffic guitars that are either obscured or wiped from the final recording, presumably due to Moz laying down his vocals on top. I do like Rourke's bass on this version however.

13 Girlfriend In A Coma (early take, January 1987)
While in studio with Street in January 1987 re-recording Sheila, the band took the time to lay down a couple takes of this track (prior to the main Strangeways sessions in April 1987). What sets this apart from the Strangeways version is the pronounced reggae-ness of the instrumentation (no, there aren't any steel drums). Goddard says the first two takes of this from the January '87 sessions featured this Jamaican interpretation, which we have here, and Moz's vocal is a bit rough around the edges (of course he'd tighten it up later on).

14 Death Of A Disco Dancer (first take, April 1987)
The find of the lot, in my book. This is markedly different from the final LP version, in that you can a) hear the song actually being structurally formed as it progresses, and b) Moz is audibly excited at the suspense and greatness of the track, this being the band's first run-through of it in studio, as per Goddard. All the musicians are in perfect synch with each other, you can just feel the bond between the members, as the song plays out. It's for things like this that I love the behind-the-scenes aspect of the recording business. If this were the only track leaked, I'd be happy.

15 Paint A Vulgar Picture (early take, April 1987)
Goddard says that this track went through several run-throughs before the final LP version, with entire Moz verses being chopped out. This doesn't feature the "missing Moz" which was compensated for by Marr's solo over that section on the LP version, but it does feature some unheard Mozwork with the title itself part of the lyric. If I read Goddard right, this take we have here would have been one of the very earliest ones.

16 Heavy Track (unreleased instrumental, April 1987)
Apparently this was recorded at the very beginning of the Strangeways sessions, before Moz turned up at the studio. It's the most musically different Smiths track of any of them, for all intents and purposes it sounds like Zeppelin (I can imagine Robert Plant wailing on top of it). Nothing shocking, nothing you'll kill yourself for not hearing over the past 23 years, it's still a nice one to have.

Whether or not any of this shows up on the blog, it's nice to have something *interesting* to discuss about this band, rather than more complaints from Moz about how every penny he makes goes to that useless waste Joyce.

Monday, December 20, 2010

News!

I'm certain many of our following is aware of the big news of the day in Smithdom.

This is the real deal, folks. From a collector's standpoint, these are nearly all the outtakes and alternate unreleased mixes everyone drooled about while reading Simon Goddard's excellent book.

From an audiophile perspective, though, I'm not sure where these fit within the defined constraints of this blog. While I am as excited as any of you are to hear these, and they ARE revelatory, they are sourced from mono bootleg vinyl. The story is these ultimately came from Warner Strategic Marketing, on CDs, a few years back. I would kill to get a CDR dub of those WSM CDs, and I can only imagine how pristine THOSE sound (and hopefully stereo!).

The vinyl capture is also somewhat compressed/clipped, big no-no's in my (admittedly anal) arena. While less of a bugaboo to my audiophile ears than the mono aspect, of course if I had my way - fat chance - someone with a thousand-dollar rig would re-transfer the vinyl at a more reasonable level to avoid undue clipping/compression.

Those are my nits and my nits only, though. What is the collective mindset on using some of these (like the original unmixed, unreleased John Porter-produced "Sheila Take A Bow" version) as bonus material in our little project? Should I see what I can get from these vinyl rips, or let them exist in their own domain out in the wild, and hope some little birdie drops CDRs of the Warner Strategic Marketing discs in my lap?

Any reader who wishes to take me up on said offer - to work from the actual CDs (or CDRs) as-sourced from Warners, and has source material to contribute, please drop me a line at analogloyalist AT gmail DOT com.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Update

Hi folks, just a quickie. I'm sorry for the delay in getting further artwork finished. I'm sure most of you (and you blog host Mr. Analog Loyalist) are getting antsy. I do want to see this project through to completion, as this is a labor of love, but unfortunately it's not my day job, and sometimes life intervenes. I'll try and make some solid progress over the next few days.