Tuesday, November 20, 2012

End

Dear friends,

Thank you for your enthusiasm and support. It's been a complete surprise that this project was allowed to live online with no interference from the label or band. However, all good things must come to an end. The Extra Track crew has made a joint decision to deactivate all the download links, effective immediately.

You may still be able to find the audio online, if you approach fan sites, newsgroups, or torrent sites. The entries for each single will remain here as a sort of Wiki about The Smiths' singles.

We hope you enjoy the hours of work we put into this project. You'll be hearing from us again.

Sincerely,
Drew Crumbaugh
Jeb Edwards

PS: Please don't email us and beg for links because you missed the window. The answer is no.

PS 2: During the link removal process a couple of entries showed as new posts rather than updated. That's why Sheila Take A Bow and Girlfriend In A Coma appear out of order.

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

Tracks:

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)

Sources:

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)

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:

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

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


Tracks:

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

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

Sources:

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

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:

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