Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ET(aatb) 18: RTT196 "Sheila Take A Bow"

[Link removed 20 November 2012] (39 MB)

"Sheila Take A Bow"
Rough Trade RTT196
Produced by Morrissey and Marr, engineered by Stephen Street
* Produced by John Porter for the BBC
** Produced by John Porter
April 1987


1 Sheila Take A Bow
2 Is It Really So Strange? *
3 Sweet And Tender Hooligan *

4 Sheila Take A Bow (John Porter reject) **


1-3 from "Sheila Take A Bow" (Line [Germany] LICD9.00308L, Spring 1987)
4 from Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals (unofficial LP December 2010)


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).


December 1986 and January 1987 saw the band repair to the studio to gin up tracks for future singles and demo ideas for the then-forthcoming LP sessions later that spring.

"Sheila Take A Bow" was first recorded zingily (new word!) with John Porter, with guitar lines zinging and eeping and twanging all across the stereo field. Less stompily glam than the released Stephen Street version, this variant was rejected for unknown reasons and presumably binned. It was to be Porter's last recording session with the band.

They regrouped with Street to attempt "Sheila" again. Lifting the odd Porter-played guitar line from the Porter recording - to his chagrin, not because he wouldn't have allowed it but because they never asked - Street and the boys returned to the T.Rex "Panic"-style glam attack, with great success. Porter's zing is replaced by Street's stomp, for lack of a better term. I guess you could say they threw their homework into the fire, binning the Porter recording.

Oddly, despite having completed versions of the two selected B-sides in the can from studio sessions dating back to spring 1986 with Craig Gannon on second guitar, the band chose to feature recordings made for John Peel in December 1986, at BBC Maida Vale 4, as the B-sides. Not having heard the studio version of "Sweet and Tender Hooligan" (recorded during the May 1986 "Panic" sessions), I can't say if they made the right decision by using the Peel "SaTH", but the Beeb take is a pretty nice rocker. The studio take of "Is It Really So Strange?" - recorded during the June 1986 "Ask" sessions - did finally see unofficial release on the double LP bootleg Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals in December 2010. I think using the Peel take was the right call here; while the structure, melody and lyric is in place on the abandoned studio recording, the drums sound like guide drums (almost Linn-like) and the overall recording lacks the sonic impact and shine the Peel recording gave it. The cynic in me also wonders if they kept the with-Gannon studio versions in-house so as to not give Gannon the pleasure (and royalties?) of credits on further Smiths releases.

While we've given the world a listen to the Porter "Sheila" via the petition started by yours truly, the thought was it was only fair to bring it into this single too. So, our special bonus is the Porter version, superbly tarted up from bootleg vinyl to the point that the vinyl lineage is undetectable. Please note that this version presented here supersedes all previous releases of this track; I obtained a high-definition transfer from a new source and that transfer - in all ways - bettered that which was used to prepare the other blog's (re)mastering of the bootleg LP. (Watch the other blog for an updated, re-remastered posting of the set in its entirety, from this new high-definition transfer.)

- Analog Loyalist


  1. You guys are on a tear! Wonderful work - thanks for restoring these gems.

  2. Just gets better. Thanks for all your efforts.

  3. Excellent stuff as always. Just three more to go or will Stop Me get its own posting?

  4. Our cup truly runneth over this week! Thanks as always.

  5. Thank you for rekindling my love for the Smiths. I anxiously await each new post. And yes, this blog totally made me buy the Rhino Smiths box.

    1. I bought the Rhino box on the advice of this blog as well. May this blog continue and prosper to the benefit of all!

    2. It's true... since discovering this page I reminded myself that I did still love The Smiths.
      The Rhino box would have passed me by but you MADE me buy it!!

  6. I cannot thank you enough for the fine work you do.

  7. Sterling work as always
    It sounds great. It was a favourite twelve inch of mine. The artwork is stunning and the 3 tracks are masterful tunes. The early take of Sheila sounds like it has a keytar (gitboard?) on it and not a real sitar.
    The music (the chords) got a little less adventurous to my ears though, and it seemed even I (a bass player) could now play the songs with little more than barre chords, even London was a one string riff. What a riff tho...
    I really don't rate what came next....

  8. Thank you so much for all that you've done with this amazing blog!

  9. Heh, that Porter version is indeed something - a completely different song if you ask me. (And you didn't!)