The Smiths

A previously unheard alternate take of The Smiths’ 1984 B-side “Girl Afraid” has surfaced on a just-discovered Rough Trade Records reference cassette of the band’s Hatful of Hollow LP, which suggests a different tracklist originally was planned for the celebrated compilation album.

According to an article in the January issue of the U.K.’s Record Collector magazine, the Copymasters cassette — dated Aug. 24, 1984, more than two months before Hatful of Hollow’s November 1984 release — contains two surprises. In addition to the different version of “Girl Afraid,” the cassette also includes a rare alternate take of “How Soon Is Now?,” which only ever has been released as the B-side to the very rare Italian 12-inch single of “William, It Was Really Nothing.”

While the “Girl Afraid” outtake was, in fact, mentioned as an “original test mix” in Simon Goddard’s 2002 book “The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life,” it has never circulated among collectors, either on bootlegs records or as an Internet leak.

The Record Collector article describes the take:

“The most notable difference is Johnny Marr’s famous guitar intro has been deleted, while, in its place, Morrissey sings the line, ‘I’ll never make that mistake again,’ a cappella, before the drums kick in and the song continues.”

Released by Rough Trade in the U.K., Hatful of Hollow served to compile songs from the Smiths’ exceedingly popular 1983 BBC Radio 1 sessions — which the band’s members famously preferred to the versions they recorded for their 1984 debut, The Smiths — in addition to the A- and B-sides of three of the group’s 1983-’84 singles, “Hand In Glove,” “William, It Was Really Nothing” and “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.”

As Record Collector notes:

“It is highly likely that Rough Trade originally intended to release Hatful of Hollow with these two different versions in place, as an added attraction to loyal Smiths fans who already owned the original B-sides (a concept the company returned to a couple of years later when The World Won’t Listen contained an outtake of ‘Stretch Out and Wait’).”

Despite the release of 2008’s double-disc The Sound of the Smiths — which featured some rarities mixed in with album tracks — the emergence of this cassette and its two rare alternate takes only serves to amplify long-suffering Smiths’ fans calls for a comprehensive collection of the band’s output, including any still-unheard material left in the vaults.

See video of the Smiths performing ‘Girl Afraid’ in 1984 after the jump…

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