Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ET(aatb) 19: RTT197 "Girlfriend In A Coma"

[Link removed 20 November 2012] (34 MB)

"Girlfriend In A Coma"
Rough Trade RTT197
Produced by Morrissey and Marr, engineered by Stephen Street
* Produced by Grant Showbiz, remixed by Stephen Street
August 1987


1 Girlfriend In A Coma
2 Work Is A Four-Letter Word *
3 I Keep Mine Hidden *
4 Work Is A Four-Letter Word (7" edit) *
5 Girlfriend In A Coma (demo)


1-3 from "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" (Line [Germany] LICD9.00440J, Fall 1987)
4 edited from 2 by Analog Loyalist
5 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).


Spring 1987 saw the band, with Stephen Street, retreat to the idyllic Bath countryside to record what was to be their swan-song LP "Strangeways, Here We Come". Apparently the album sessions were pictures of camraderie; all accounts say that the sessions themselves would never be portents of the fractures that the band would sustain just months later.

So it was that "Girlfriend In A Coma" was chosen to be the lead single for the LP. A beautiful, jaunty, acoustic-tinged number, it wasn't quite the "Smiths are back!" moment that "Bigmouth" was a year earlier, but it did foreshadow to a degree the direction Johnny Marr wanted the band to take going forward.

Then, Marr had a rethink and eventually wanted to take a break from the pressures of no management (or management stifled by Morrissey, depending on who you believe). By his account, he didn't want to break up the band, just take some time away from it all and regroup later on with a more concrete plan for the future. Morrissey, however, sensing discontent, ordered the band back to the studio to record B-sides for the upcoming singles. So, with the band at soundman Grant Showbiz's studio in London, they set to tape the tracks that really told Marr that the end was near. Morrissey wanted the band to cover Cilia Black, so they did "Work Is A Four-Letter Word" which Marr hated (though the recording is professional, as you would expect). The session also produced the final Morrissey/Marr original composition, "I Keep Mine Hidden" - a jaunty music hall ditty that Morrissey claimed was his favorite Smiths track of all time (why...?). It sounds nothing like previous Smiths tracks, and I doubt this direction is what Marr intended had the band not split shortly thereafter.

The 12" of "Girlfriend" had the full-length "Work Is...", while the 7" featured an early fade version. We have both here.

As with "Sheila Take A Bow", we decided to bonus this post with the first version of "Girlfriend" recorded in January 1987, during the Street "Sheila" sessions. Much more reggae-influenced than the final version, about the only thing that survived from this session was the majority of Morrissey's lyric/melody, and Andy Rourke's bass (surprisingly, close inspection of the final version's bass track reveals the reggae pattern prominent in the demo recording, which I never noticed before hearing the demo). Just like with the Porter "Sheila", the demo "Girlfriend" we have here is from a newly-sourced high-resolution transfer from bootleg vinyl, with all evidence of vinyl in the lineage gone. It's another track that could be lifted from this blog and released by Rhino.

- Analog Loyalist


  1. Thanks again. Nearly at the end. Has been such a fantastic project, that has made a lot of people happy. Great to hear these songs restored to such quality. Just one thing, I believe the version of 'I Keep Mine Hidden' from the Complete Deluxe (with the 7"'s) Boxset is a slighly different mix. However I think the digital download, which you got with it, is the original version (as posted). Perhaps, someone can confirm this?

  2. Yes, that's correct :) I thought the "new" version might have been here, but am not complaining!! I can't express enough gratitude at all the hard work that has gone into all these downloads.

  3. Wow...you really are on a roll! I didn't expect this so soon. I feel quite empty now as these are the final unique B-sides. What I'm most looking forward to now is your remastering of the live version of Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others :)

  4. And this was what came next, the home straight. The short last walk of a condemned band.
    For all of what those esteemed band members say, I just don't believe it was a happy time. So much of what is on 'Strangeways' sounds unfinished in places. I couldn't believe that the demo of 'Death Of A Disco Dancer' had surfaced unreleased. I love the song, but it sounds like a demo of itself.
    Girlfriend In A Coma sounds buffed to within an inch of its life. And the 2nd time (out of three i can remember) that the run of G/Am/C/D chords are employed to carry a song.
    Simplicity? Lack of ideas? 'Ask' had used those same 4 chords and did shimmer, but 'Girlfriend' sounds like a parody.
    Johnny Marr said 'I Keep Mine Hidden' was the worst thing The Smiths had released as an original composition, and Morrissey saying it was his favourite, He's even played it live. The man has no taste anymore.
    It was 1987 and I had grown up with The Smiths, and I was hearing between these grooves, that someone had majorly fallen asleep at the wheel...

  5. sigh! - the end is nigh!
    what band next - one of the 4AD artists?

  6. I'm going to do Nitzer Ebb with Bruce (the ace behind the New Order vinyl transfers), I'll be assisting Mr. Analog Loyalist with REM (known as REMcycle), then I'd like to do The Cure '78-'92.

    1. And speaking about next projects - you wrote a couple of times about doing New Order expanded listening cds to accompany their studio albums. Is there any hope for those?

    2. Oh, that would be lovely, yes.

    3. Yes, the expanded listening discs are still coming.

    4. Can't wait for early Cure. Thanks for everything from New Order and the Smiths!

  7. Magnificent, magnificent, magnificent...again and again. You are blowing my mind at the pace of these releases. And thanks for everything you've done and continue to do. Over the last couple of years you have made many fans of Manchester's finest exports (other than Boddingtons, naturally) extremely happy.

  8. NItzer Ebb? Wow! That's very exciting - please keep us apprised of the new blog when you do that!

  9. Nitzer Ebb!!!! Chelmsford-a-go-go. I didn't think anyone had heard of them, much less cared about them. Needless to say they are from my home town.

  10. any chance of a re-up?