Fans of The Smiths are reveling in an unexpected Christmas gift this week with the appearance of a bootleg LP featuring 16 unreleased studio outtakes, including the scrapped original recording of “Sheila Take a Bow,” a reggae-like take on “Girlfriend in a Coma” and two previously unheard instrumentals.
The vinyl album — a 2LP set called Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals, which a fan ripped and posted to the Morrissey-solo.com forums (download it here, and hear samples below) — is a treasure trove of rare material, much of it never-before-heard, from a group notorious for barely releasing anything outside of its original albums and singles.
As the newly launched Smiths “audio restoration” blog Extra Track (and a tacky badge) notes, “This is the real deal, folks. From a collector’s standpoint, these are nearly all the outtakes and alternate unreleased mixes everyone drooled about while reading Simon Goddard’s excellent book (“The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life”).
A full tracklist is presented below, but highlights include:
- “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” — An early take of the Queen is Dead classic, apparently recorded in September 1985, that features the since-omitted final lyric, “There is a light in your eyes and it never goes out.”
- “Girlfriend In A Coma” — This early version of the Strangeways, Here We Come single, recorded in January 1987 with Stephen Street, has Morrissey crooning along to a surprising reggae lilt, which obviously didn’t survive the sessions.
- “Sheila Take A Bow” — The original John Porter-produced version, recorded in January 1987. This was famously rejected by the band and re-recorded with Street.
- “I Misses You” and “Heavy Track” — Excerpts of two instrumentals (dubbed “Untitled 1” and “Untitled 2” on the bootleg). The former, a mid-tempo number with some nice bass work, is from the Meat Is Murder sessions, while the latter, from the Strangeways sessions, is an unusually heavy, “London”-like rocker.
Extra Track (and a tacky badge) has a track-by-track breakdown of the set, culled from descriptions of the sessions in Goddard’s book. And Stephane, who runs the Passions Just Like Mine site, here explains where the tracks likely came from, including a scrapped 2CD Very Best of The Smiths set prepped in 2001 by Warner Strategic Marketing, and a compilation of Queen Is Dead outtakes once assembled for a proposed reissue.
Download the whole set from Morrissey-solo.com or stream three tracks below.
UPDATE 1/6/11: The Power of Independent Trucking blog is offering a download of a high-quality, cleaned-up stereo rip of the Smiths demos bootleg in the FLAC format.
Tracklist: The Smiths, Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals (bootleg LP)
1. “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”
2. “Reel Around The Fountain”
3. “Rusholme Ruffians”
4. “The Queen Is Dead”
5. “Sheila Take A Bow”
6. “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”
7. “Untitled One (Marr Instrumental)”
9. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”
10. “Is It Really So Strange?”
11. “Frankly, Mr. Shankly”
12. “Shoplifters Of The World Unite (Reprise)”
13. “Girlfriend In A Coma”
14. “Death Of A Disco Dancer”
15. “Paint A Vulgar Picture”
16. “Untitled Two (Marr Instrumental)”
PREVIOUSLY ON SLICING UP EYEBALLS:
- Video: British PM Cameron, MP McCarthy use The Smiths to debate tuition
- Morrissey joins Johnny Marr in ‘forbidding’ David Cameron from liking The Smiths
- Hey, look, it’s another picture of Morrissey with a cat sitting on top of his head
- Vintage Video: Morrissey appears on the BBC’s ‘Pop Quiz’ game show in 1984
- Morrissey wears a cat on his head, says ‘the Chinese are a subspecies’
- Morrissey’s ‘Bona Drag’ 20th anniversary reissue to feature 6 unreleased tracks
- Photo: Morrissey and Rick Astley backstage at the BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’ in 1989