Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ET(aatb): That's a wrap.

That's it, folks. At times challenging but mostly a joy while trawling through the songs (and the mastering), this project is complete. Every Smiths Rough Trade single, with a few curveballs thrown in. One of the joys of doing this has been in the excruciating detail I went through while mastering the audio; I learned a lot over the course of the endeavour and if anything, my appreciation of the music has increased which I'd not believed possible.

I want to thank our readers, those who provided needed behind-the-scenes support and encouragement, and those who helped source material for this project. Thanks to Flavio over at vulgarpicture.com for the artwork.

This blog will remain active/available for as long as Google and Mediafire allow it; I will also promise to update previous postings if new sources for "questionable" material present themselves (such as the Peel tracks taken from bootlegs). So keep scanning those tapes!

In the meantime I will continue to blog over at The Power of Independent Trucking, and will look to continue my involvement in this exciting and surprisingly popular Recycle project with our next gig, REMcycle :)

-Analog Loyalist

----------------

Many thanks to Mr. AL for remaining patient with me through long periods of down-time because I couldn't get motivated to finish artwork.

There will be long-promised updates over at New Order/Joy Division Recycle, and you can keep up with me through my own website or through Facebook.

The next Recycle project from myself and Bruce Bartlett will be Force Is Machine: Nitzer Ebb 1984-1995.

- Jeb

ET(aatb) 21: RTT200 "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"


[Link removed 20 November 2012] (66 MB)

"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"
Rough Trade RTT200
Produced by Morrissey and Marr, engineered by Stephen Street
* Produced by John Porter for the BBC
December 1987

Tracks:

1 Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
2 Rusholme Ruffians *
3 Nowhere Fast *
4 William, It Was Really Nothing *
5 How Soon Is Now? *
6 Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (single edit)

Sources:

1 from "Strangeways, Here We Come" (ROUGH CD106, September 1987)
2-4 from "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" (RTT 200CD, December 1987)
5 from some unknown lossless bootleg (ha!)
6 edited from 1 by Analog Loyalist

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:

And the book was finally written on the Smiths, as far as contemporary releases went. The last official, planned single from the band was one of the most desolate tracks in their catalog, the beautiful "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me". Except in this case it wasn't just another false alarm, the band truly was over. The single release stripped out the extended intro segment to go bang into the body of the song, which we also present here.

The B-sides were selected from the band's June 1984 Peel session, one that wasn't as exciting as their other sessions but a good one nonetheless. Oddly, "Nowhere Fast" as released by Rough Trade here is mono, while the actual broadcast version is full stereo. I've not been able to source a quality lossless stereo version of this track, so we unfortunately don't get the whole stereo effect here.

"How Soon Is Now?" was also done for this session, but per Johnny Marr the session version simply consisted of the band bringing in the multitracks from the original recording and re-jiggering them for the session. I think maybe Morrissey re-sung the lyric, and not all the guitars are present here, but besides that it's not super different from the "studio" version. I used the best lossless version I could locate, as it was not released with the other tracks on the 12"; if anyone can locate a better version that's not from a BBC digital stream capture and is without DJ talking over the intro/outtro please let us know.

- Analog Loyalist

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ET(aatb) 20: RTT198 "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (57 MB)

"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"
Rough Trade RTT198
Produced by Morrissey and Marr, engineered by Stephen Street
* Produced by Troy Tate
** Recorded by Grant Showbiz
November 1987

Tracks:

1 I Started Something I Couldn't Finish
2 Pretty Girls Make Graves *
3 Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others (live) **
4 What's The World (live) **
5 Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

Sources:

1, 5 from "Strangeways, Here We Come" (ROUGH CD106, September 1987)
2-3 from Stop Me (Victor [Japan] VDP-28025, Fall 1987)
4 from "Sweet And Tender Hooligan" (Reprise (USA) 9 43525-2, May 1995)

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:

The band was no more. Johnny Marr had left for Los Angeles, the remaining Smiths tried carrying on with replacement guitarists for a couple seconds, and then the band was put to rest. Morrissey was amidst recording sessions for his debut solo LP, yet there was still a Smiths record to promote. With no new tracks in the can (ha! Just see the various demos that saw release in 2010...) to use as B-sides, the single was filled out with selected live recordings and alternate session takes.

The A-side itself was a last-minute substitute for the obvious single candidate "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before", which was pulled from the schedule in the UK at the last minute due to concerns about bombings/murder references in the lyric. Other territories kept "Stop Me..." as the single, as planned - hence our inclusion of "Stop Me..." on this set too.

"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" is one of the least interesting Smiths single A-sides; it's not a bad track, it's just not great. It's almost Smiths-by-numbers, though interestingly enough the well-paced drum stomp is rooted to an audible Linn drum. I guess the most interesting bit is the fade-out where you hear Morrissey calling out to Stephen Street about the vocal take...

The live "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" was performed only once, at the band's final UK gig ever, in December 1987. It was challenging to master as it's quite noisy; I think people will be pleased with the results. Oddly, Morrissey sings a third verse here not present on the studio version. Johnny plays like he has three hands.

"What's the World" is a James cover, performed during the band's brief Scottish tour in fall 1985. An odd choice for a B-side, it was featured only on the cassette single release in the UK. In the USA, Sire/Reprise felt the need to promote the 1995 Singles compilation LP with a subset of rarities, so the label released "Sweet and Tender Hooligan" as a CD and 12" single in the US backed with the two "Girlfriend" B-sides, and "What's the World" taken from an actual UK cassette single as the label couldn't locate a master.

Most interesting is the Troy Tate abandoned debut LP session version of "Pretty Girls Make Graves". It's got a unique clip-clop pseudofolk canter to the rhythm, and according to Simon Goddard in the wonderful book The Smiths: The Songs That Saved Your Life was released as an overdue fulfillment of a promise by Geoff Travis to the cellist who played on the track.

"Stop Me..." is one of the classics in the catalog: urgent guitars, strident lyrics, just a stunner. Marr returns to his old trick - first done on "This Charming Man" - of bashing his guitar strings with a knife. It was the obvious choice for the single and a shame it didn't get to serve that role in the UK.

- Analog Loyalist

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ET(aatb) 17: Virgin 90229 "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"


[Link removed 20 November 2012] (38 MB)

"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
Virgin (France) 90229
Produced by Morrissey and Marr, engineered by Stephen Street
* Produced by John Porter
January 1987


Tracks:

1 There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
2 London (Peel Session, recorded 2 December 1986, BBC Maida Vale 4) *
3 Half A Person
(Peel Session, recorded 2 December 1986, BBC Maida Vale 4) *

Sources:

1 from The Queen Is Dead (ROUGHCD96, August 1986)
2-3 from some forgotten lossless bootleg (ha!)

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:


OK, so this wasn't really a Rough Trade release. However, its sleeve is truly one of the iconic ones in the catalog, and shamefully wasn't used much beyond promo material in the homelands. So, it's really here just to feature the sleeve.

The French chose to issue a 7" of "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" in place of "Shoplifters", and backed it with the common "Half A Person" as released on "Shoplifters".

I have nothing to say about "There Is A Light" - if you don't know this song, you're reading the wrong blog. A giant among giants.

To avoid excessive reduplication, I decided to back this with the best versions I could find of two of the (few) unreleased and truly unique tracks in the catalog, the December '86 Peel takes on "London" and "Half A Person". "London" absolutely crushes the Street studio version; Marr's guitars are, simply, awesome. "Half A Person" doesn't differ nearly as much as the Street studio version, but it's still a nice piece of music that deserves release.

Our "London" is easily the best version I've ever heard of this track, on the various bootlegs that feature it. As featured here, it's near impossible to tell it's not from official BBC-released sources. The same can't be said for "Half A Person" though I did yeoman's work in tarting it up for this project; while I have heard "better" captures of it, they're all lossy BBC digital streaming versions and aren't up to lossless sourcing muster. The giveaway too on the digital stream captures is the swirlyness/smearing of the highs, especially cymbals. The source here was an actual off-air recording, tape hiss and all. It goes without saying that anybody who can help with pre-broadcast, or high-quality analog recording of the BBC broadcasts (without Peel's speaking over intros/outtros, or any other broadcaster for that matter), please do so.

- Analog Loyalist

Monday, March 5, 2012

ET(aatb) 16: RTT195 "Shoplifters Of The World Unite"


[Link removed 20 November 2012] (51 MB)

"Shoplifters Of The World Unite"
Rough Trade RTT195
Produced by Johnny Marr

* Produced by Morrissey and Marr, engineered by Stephen Street
** Produced by John Porter
January 1987


Tracks:

1 Shoplifters Of The World Unite
2 London *
3 Half A Person *

4 You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby ("UK version") **
5 You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby ("US version") **

Sources:

1-4 from The World Won't Listen (ROUGHCD101, February 1987)
5 from Louder Than Bombs (ROUGHCD255, 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:


Second guitarist Craig Gannon ceased to be a Smith at the completion of the band's 30 October 1986 gig at Manchester's Free Trade Hall, though he wasn't to find out for a week or so afterwards. Thankfully for him, the band had stockpiled some tracks recorded with his services in the month or two previous to his dismissal.

"Shoplifters Of The World Unite" was not one of them, though the track initially shortlisted as the A-side for RTT195 was (more on that later). "Shoplifters", recorded shortly after Johnny Marr's near-fatal car crash in November 1986, is the only Smiths track credited to Marr alone with regards to production; it's a stunning look back at (and update of) the swampy vibe that lifted "How Soon Is Now?" to greatness, and a portrait of a band that is truly locked-in on all cylinders. Morrissey's contribution led Rough Trade to promote the record with absurd "Shoplifter" carrying bags at participating record shops.

"Shoplifters" was, for various reasons, a last-minute substitute A-side for "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" - a wonderfully classic Smithsian Marr jangle-a-thon that easily sits in this writer's short list of "Best Smiths Songs Ever". Produced by John Porter, "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" was recorded in October 1986 with Gannon contributing second guitar, and got so far through the release schedule that artwork proofs are in existence with this as the lead track on RTT195, and a so-called "pressing error" actually saw this song surface in January 1987 in "Shoplifters" sleeves - ahead of its release on February's The World Won't Listen compilation as the exclusive "new track". Two mixes of this track exist, one on ROUGH101 and one on (initially US/Canada only) Louder Than Bombs, and the mixes are different enough to warrant both included here. The US/Canada mix seems a bit more refined, with audible extra effects on Morrissey's vocals and slightly different guitar lines. The EQ on the US/Canada version was really shitty, so I matched it with the ROUGH101 version and it virtually leaps off the platter now. It's truly a stunner.

"London" is perhaps - along with "What She Said" - the hardest track in the band's catalog. A Marr tour-de-force if there ever was one, the song is off from the word go on a hurtling trip from Manchester to Euston station.

"Half A Person" is a track 99.9% of other bands would trumpet as their "Best Song Ever" and re-re-release it over and over again on countless compilations, reissued singles, etc. For The Smiths, it's just another Extra Track on the 12", and a track that, according to Marr, was written in the staircase at the studio where it was recorded. I was sixteen, clumsy and shy when I first heard this song myself, and while I was not a backscrubber, or staying at YWCAs, or even in London, the song struck an immediate chord in me and was the first song that truly cemented my love of this band.

Back to "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby": I remember reading an interview with mastering engineer Frank Arkwright and Johnny Marr at around the time the Sound Of The Smiths compilation came out, a few years back, and Arkwright had mentioned that removing the varispeed effect from the song's master gave the song an entirely new life. (What he meant was that the master was keyed to play faster/higher pitched than normal, and in fact what saw release on both the UK and US/Canada compilations of the day was this unnaturally higher pitched/faster variant.) Intrigued, I slowed the track down to concert A440 pitch, and it really does feel and groove like a new song. 25 years of exposure to the wrong-speed version still means the "correct" version sounds "wrong", but "wrong" doesn't mean "worse". I can't listen to the original versions these days as Morrissey now sounds like a chipmunk in comparison (the re-pitched, slowed-down version is much more in Morrissey's natural baritone, and the drums sound appropriately "oomphy" for lack of a better term).

- Analog Loyalist