As Britain prepares for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty, here is The Queen is Dead - Derek Jarman’s Super 8 film triptych (made in collaboration John Maybury, Richard Heslop and Chis Hughes) for 3 classic tracks by The Smiths: “The Queen is Dead,” “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” and “Panic.”
Inner city angst, urban decay, alienation, cute hairstyles, and lots of hand held camera work, well it was the eighties.
Jump into a time machine and watch the Smiths performing “Handsome Devil,” “Still Ill,” “This Charming Man,” “Pretty Girls Make Graves,” “Reel Around The Fountain,” “What Difference Does It Make,” “Miserable Lie,” “This Night Has Opened My Eyes,” “Hand In Glove,” “These Things Take Time” and “You’ve Got Everything Now” during a pro-shot show at the Assembly Rooms, Derby, December 6, 1983. This was before their first album was released.
This concert is usually misdated as having taken place on the 7th of December. Tickets were free, John Peel announced
the ticket giveaway on his show. It was a very wild gig, the crowd was very energetic and constantly shouting requests.
It all ended in chaos (read further). “Back To The Old House” was also on the setlist but it seems like it was not played .
After shushing the audience, “Pretty Girls Make Graves” was introduced by Morrissey with the words “A little quirk…
a little quirk friends… pretty girls make!” During “Reel Around The Fountain” he handed one of the bead necklaces he was
wearing to someone in the crowd. He changed a line in “What Difference Does It Make?” to “I think i can rely on me.”
At some point during “Miserable Lie” Morrissey was hit in the eye by a flower, dropped his microphone to the floor and left
the stage. The band finished the song mostly as an instrumental. Morrissey returned to the stage on time for the ending of
“I need advice, I need advice”, adding at the end “and so do you!” for the rowdy audience. He remained playful following
this, but Johnny Marr later said in an interview that this was his most embarrassing moment. Actually in the 1985 programme
for the Meat Is Murder tour, he said this concert was his ‘greatest embarrassment’.
Following the latter number, song requests were shouted by fans and Morrissey shushed them again and shouted “No! This!”
He changed a few lines in “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” to “this night has opened my eyes and I will never see again”,
“The dream has gone, the crying is real” and “And I’m never happy and I’m never sad”. “Hand In Glove” was introduced by
Morrissey with a high pitched shout of “Hand In Glove!!!” During that song someone made it on stage and hugged Morrissey,
making him miss a few lines. After “These Things Take Time”, Morrissey just shouted “Goodbye! Stay handsome… goodbye…”
and the band left.
The band was soon welcomed back with a big collective cheer. They launched into “You’ve Got Everything Now” but it wasn’t
long before the stage became crowded with fans. Band members disappeared from view and Morrissey could barely sing his lines.
He tried as best he could but made strangling noises as he was pulled left and right and tried not to get drowned in a sea
of dancing people. The stage got filled with as many fans as was physically possible. It was one of the Smiths’ first major
stage invasions (including a small child!).
This concert was recorded for The Old Grey Whistle Test and first broadcast the following Friday and Saturday. Some later
rebroadcasts were shortened to seven songs, leaving out amongst others the near-instrumental “Miserable Lie”.
As one of the YouTubers commented:
“They should make a hologram of THESE guys”
If you want to see The Smiths in their prime, absolutely killing it in front of an adoring audience, press play now. Easy to find in DVD quality via the various torrent trackers.
It’s been described as one of the most important gigs of all time, one that saw hundreds, even thousands of people claim they were there. In truth only around 30-40 people saw The Sex Pistols perform at the Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall on June 4, 1976. But of those who did, most went onto form a generation of legendary bands - The Fall, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Smiths.
Also, allegedly in the audience were such future ambassadors of taste as Anthony H. Wilson, who would co-found Factory Records and the Hacienda nightclub, and nascent journalist/writer Paul Morley.
Culturally, it was an event akin to the storming of the Bastille, for it unleashed a revolution.
I Swear I Was There tells the story of that now legendary night, and talks to the people whose lives were changed by The Sex Pistols.
Lazyitis at SoundCloud made this Super Mario Bros. meets The Smiths mash-up and says, “I’m planning on doing a video as soon as I can figure out how to work with Flash. The sound effects are only there to help the listener visualize the “game.”
Morrissey has allowed high-street department store, John Lewis to use a cover version of “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” on the chain’s £6 million Christmas advertising campaign. The track has been covered by Slow Moving Millie (aka Amelia Warner, ex-wife of Colin Farrell, apparently), which follows on from last year’s take of Elton John’s “Your Song” recorded by Ellie Goulding.
According to the Daily Telegraph Morrissey is “delighted” that the chain was using the track. Craig Inglis, John Lewis’s marketing director, is quoted as saying:
“We know our audience holds The Smiths and bands from that era in high esteem.”
“It’s a magical feeling when you find that perfect present for someone; there’s a great sense of anticipation from the moment you buy it to the moment you give the gift on the big day.
“That feeling is exactly what we’ve tried to capture with this year’s Christmas campaign.”
Ruth Paterson, head of marketing at Rough Trade, the record label which released most of The Smiths’ work, said she was entertained by the collaboration.
“I do like the idea of a really good song by a really good band being played in Middle England’s living rooms,” she told The Times.
“I’m sure that wasn’t the song’s intended purpose, but I think that’s a good thing.”
As Morrissey edges towards a pensionable age, the “substantial pecuniary boost” this ad will bring will no doubt be greatly appreciated - though perhaps not by his fans, as if that will matter.
After Morrissey and Christmas, who’s next? And what other advert involving high street business and alleged hip musician would make for the most unlikely pairing? Suggestions, please.
Morrissey gave a very rare interview to John Wilson on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row yesterday, to promote the release of The Very Best Of Morrissey, on April 25th in the UK and May 3rd the US.
In the interview, Morrissey discussed the forthcoming album, the legacy of The Smiths, his work as a song-writer, his thoughts on British Prime Minster, David Cameron‘s disclosure that he was a “major Smiths fan”, and also had time to mention his, as yet, unpublished autobiography, which he has just finished writing and would like to see published as a Penguin Classic.
On February 4th 1983, The Smiths were booked to play the Hacienda in Manchester, England, as support to 52nd Street, a funk band signed to Factory Records. The audience was there to see the headliners, but it was the best band that Tony Wilson never signed who stole the night.
The show was a milestone in The Smiths career, a night when they went from interesting local band, to next-big-thing, and beyond.
As the band took the stage Morrissey greeted the audience by saying “Hello… We are the Smiths. We are not ‘Smiths’, we are the Smiths. ‘These Things Take Time’....” Following the latter set opener he simply said “Oh thank you” then the band launched into “What Difference Does It Make?”. Within a year the song would be released as a single and make it onto the band’s debut album. At this point it was played slower and featured slightly different lyrics. For example instead of “I’m so sick and tired” (album) or “I’m so very tired” (Peel session), Morrissey simply sang “I’m so tired”. Also, Morrissey sang “Oh my sacred Mother in falsetto at the end, instead of the more familiar “Oh my sacred one”.
Next up was “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” and it was introduced by Morrissey with a simple drop of its title. This song also featured different lyrics to the version which would be released on the band’s debut album. The outro of “as long as there’s love / I did my best for her” was absent and a line was then sung as “your mother she need never know”. Right before “Handsome Devil” Morrissey said: “I repeat: the only thing to be in 1983 is handsome… ‘Handsome Devil’.” The next track was probably seeing its live debut and was simply introduced as “Jeane!”. Strangely it would not be performed for long, it was soon to be dropped from the setlist until the Smiths reinstated it when touring the debut album more than a year later.
The performance of “What Do You See In Him?” was a very passionate one. The song would not remain in the Smiths’ set for long. After being dropped for a few months it would re-emerge in June as “Wonderful Woman”, with the same music, but different lyrics. The song that would become the Smiths debut single was then introduced with a slowly articulated “Hand. In. Glove.” It was also performed very passionately, and seems to have woken the audience into paying attention to the yet unknown opening band. The song was well received and this prompted Morrissey to shyly say “Oh you’re very kind… thank you…”
The evening’s final number was then announced twice as “Miserable Lie”. The song’s early lyrics didn’t yet include the line “I know the wind-swept mystical air” while the line “I recognise that mystical air” was sung twice. Instead of “I’m just a country-mile behind the world” Morrissey sang “I’d run a hundred miles away from you”. After the song Morrissey simply said “Bye bye…” twice and the band left the stage while a few new converts cheered and whistled.
A review written by Jim Shelley and published in the NME a month and a half later had only good words for the Smiths, comparing them to Magazine, Josef K and The Fire Engines.
More from The Smiths at the Hacienda, after the jump…
British Prime Minister David Cameron is a Smith’s fanboy, much to the chagrin of Morrissey and Johnny Marr who can’t stand the PM. Morrissey, a vocal animal rights activist, is particularly disturbed by the fact that Cameron wants to “repeal the Hunting Act, which would mean the brutal killing of foxes, hares, deer, badgers, otters – just about anything that moves.”
Today Labour MP challenged Cameron over Morrissey and Johnny Marr’s comments.
Ahead of tomorrow’s controversial vote on raising tuition fees, Cameron was challenged by Labour MP Kerry McCarthy, who mentioned The Smiths in her argument.
“As someone who claims to be an avid fan of The Smiths, the Prime Minister will no doubt be rather upset this week to hear that both Morrissey and Johnny Marr have banned him from liking them,” McCarthy said.
She added: “The Smiths are, of course, the archetypal student band. If he wins tomorrow night’s vote, what songs does he think students will be listening to? ‘Miserable Lie’, ‘I Don’t Owe You Anything’ or ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’?”
Cameron’s response included several Smiths song titles, too.
He said: “I expect that if I turned up I probably wouldn’t get ‘This Charming Man’ and if I went with the Foreign Secretary [William Hague] it would probably be ‘William It Was Really Nothing’.”
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