Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ET(aatb) 09: RTT176 "How Soon Is Now?"


[Link removed 20 November 2012] (49.4 MB)

"How Soon Is Now?"
Rough Trade RTT176
Produced by John Porter and The Smiths
Early 1985

Tracks:

1 How Soon Is Now?
2 Well I Wonder
3 Oscillate Wildly
4 How Soon Is Now? (USA 7" Phil Brown edit)
5 The Headmaster Ritual (USA 7" Phil Brown edit)

Sources:

1 from
"William, It Was Really Nothing" (RTT 166CD, Fall 1988)
2
from Meat Is Murder (ROUGHCD81, April 1985)
3 from The World Won't Listen (ROUGHCD101, February 1987)
4, 5 from "How Soon Is Now?" (USA Sire 9 29007-7, summer 1985)
(4, 5 re-edited by Analog Loyalist from original full-length versions)

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:

"How Soon Is Now?" needs no introduction. A track released as a B-side, then on the compilation
Hatful Of Hollow, and then a few months later as an A-side in its own right. Par for the course, Rough Trade.

"Well I Wonder" is easily amongst my (and fans all over) top Smiths songs of all time. Oddly it was also the only main track of theirs never to be performed live, barring the obviousStrangeways album and the odd B-side. Gentle acoustic, forlorn lyrics, the gentle washing of the rain. Brilliant work and well deserved of its early release here (some two weeks prior to the actual Meat Is Murder LP release, if Simon Goddard has it right).

"Oscillate Wildly" was the first (of an eventual three) instrumental track released by the band. Credited to Morrissey/Marr, Morrissey obviously didn't contribute to the record but was in full favor of it. Amongst my friends in the late 1980s, this was THE track to play on piano once you learned your way around the keys a bit.

The two 7" edits closing out this post, Phil Brown edits of "How Soon Is Now?" and "The Headmaster Ritual", are unique to an American 7" on Sire that never saw wide release. While we were given fairly clean transfers of this 7" to work from, I chose to re-engineer the edits from the original full-length tracks so as to better maintain sonic consistency throughout the release. The "HSIN?" edit is wonky and at times jarring, but it's exactly as it was in the original Phil Brown edit, and is unique for that alone. "Headmaster" is done brilliantly: precise, surgical trimming of the track down to its essence and would have made a fantastic "radio edit" had the label(s) chosen that route. I find myself listening to this edit more than the full-length version!

ET(aatb) 08: RTT171 "Barbarism Begins At Home"


[Link removed 20 November 2012] (43.7 MB)

"Barbarism Begins At Home"
Rough Trade RTT171
Produced by The Smiths
January 1985 (UK promo 12" and foreign territory commercial release only)
November 1988 (UK commercial CD single)

Tracks:

1 Barbarism Begins At Home
2 Shakespeare's Sister
3 Stretch Out And Wait ("US version")
4 Barbarism Begins At Home (edit)

Sources:

1 from
Meat Is Murder (ROUGHCD81, April 1985)
2-4 from
"Barbarism Begins At Home" (RTT 171CD, November 1988)

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:

Here is where we have to begin taking some liberties with the discography. While this actual "RTT 171CD" itself wasn't issued as a commercial product until November 1988, "Barbarism" was released as a promo (and a commercial single in some territories outside the UK) in early 1985 to promote the then-upcoming
Meat Is Murder LP. What is hard to determine, due to Rough Trade's casual bookkeeping, is the actual release order (and that the territories often released material on their own schedules). I cannot for the life of me determine which was made generally available first: this promo/commercial 12", or RTT 176 "How Soon Is Now?". So I made the executive decision to go numerically in the catalog, by RTT catalog number instead.

Some nominate "Barbarism" for the best Andy Rourke bassline in existence; while I would agree that it's fantastic, I think Rourke's talents are displayed in better fashion on other tracks. What is more interesting about this record is that - considering we are dealing with Morrissey - it is so utterly un-Smithlike in its very being. The full-length track is an extended funk workout showing off the power of the band in a fashion not seen again until 1986, while the edit is a quick and dirty summation of the track.

"Shakespeare's Sister" - which we'll see again in a couple singles - is perhaps the quirkiest recording in the catalog. I think it suffers from "throw it all in the mix" syndrome; there are no "hooks", no catchy motifs, that draw the listener in. It's too condensed and blurred to really sustain impact, and the record-buying public agreed in that it was basically a non-starter in the charts. I might go on to say it's a forgettable song; I never find myself having the urge to throw it on and listen unlike the majority of other tracks in their stellar catalog.

"Stretch Out And Wait" is called the "US version" here for no other reason than to separate it from the actual B-side version used for the then-upcoming "Shakespeare's Sister" single release. It's a different mix and vocal recording that first appeared in 1987 on both The World Won't Listen and Louder Than Bombs, and was also used for the late 1988 RTT 171CD release.