Sunday, January 16, 2011

Demos Renew Love for the Smiths

If you were busy around the holidays, you may have missed an incredible post at just a few days before Christmas. A fan of the Smiths posted a bunch of demos from a mysterious double LP being called 'Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals.' The sound quality was OK, but another fan, this time at The Power of Independent Trucking, followed up a bit later with a much cleaner stereo version. This seems to be the definitive rip (of several offered online). Well, this 16-song collection has been my obsession for a couple of weeks now. So much so that I'm plunking down cash for the vinyl. You can find copies on eBay in the $20-$25 range. Here is a quick rundown:

'Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals' Tracklist
Side A
1. The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (Oct. 1983, John Porter monitor mix)
2. Reel Around The Fountain (July 1983, Troy Tate final mix)
3. Rusholme Ruffians (July 1984, John Porter first take)

Side B
1. The Queen Is Dead (original full-length unedited version)
2. Sheila Take A Bow (original full-length unedited version)
3. This Night Has Opened My Eyes (June 1984, unreleased studio recording)
4. Untitled One (Dec. 1984, Marr instrumental)

Side C
1. Ask (June 9, 1986, probable first-ever take)
2. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (early take from Sept. 1985)
3. Is It Really So Strange? (June 1986, original unreleased studio recording)
4. Frankly, Mr. Shankly (Nov. 1985, Stephen Street "trumpets" recording)
5. Shoplifters Of The World Unite (Reprise) (Dec. 1986, instrumental)

Side D
1. Girlfriend In A Coma (Jan. 1987, early take)
2. Death Of A Disco Dancer (April 1987, first take)
3. Paint A Vulgar Picture (April 1987, early take)
4. Untitled Two (April 1987, Marr instrumental)

I'm sure you recognize just about every title above, but listening to these "new" versions has reminded me why this band was such a pivotal part of my youth. It has been so long since experiencing fresh Morrissey, Johnny Marr and Co., and this is a real treat. I'm especially enjoying the Marr instrumentals. They are listed as "untitled" on the sleeve, but I have seen the songs called "I Misses You" and "Heavy Track" in a few places. The other two songs I consider musts are the hard and raw take of "Rusholme Ruffians" and the trumpet-laden version of "Frankly Mr. Shankly." Give that one a quick listen below.

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