Earlier today, Morrissey-solo forum member Uncleskinny released several rare/previous unreleased demos from the Smiths and Morrissey onto his Soundcloud. The earliest demo comes from the Smiths’ sessions during the recording of the 1986’s The Queen is Dead, an alternate version of “Never Had No One Ever”. The most recent demos would be an acoustic versions of “Nobody Loves Us”, “The Boy Racer” (with drums) and “Southpaw” (with strings and drums) from the Southpaw Grammar sessions during the spring of 1995. Early versions of “Bengali in Platforms” and “He Knows I’d Love to See Him” are also included. On the Soundcloud there are also instrumental live tracks from soundchecks, including unknown Smiths material.
Let’s go through them track by track, yes?
“Bengali in Platforms” from Morrissey’s debut album Viva Hate is an interesting inclusion because the song was originally jammed on during the last Smiths sessions, with Ivor Perry sitting in for absent guitarist Johnny Marr. Though this version probably does not bare any resonance to the Smiths’ unrecorded version, but the history of the song’s evolution is particularly interesting. Wicked guitar solo as well, presumably from Vini Reilly who collaborated on the album.
“He Knows I’d Love to See Him”, a b-side to 1990’s hit “November Spawned a Monster” marks the end of post-Smiths collaboration between Morrissey and Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, who continued to record, write and perform with Morrissey infrequently following the Smiths’ breakup. This version is more stripped down but the track makes up for it with a sparkling and stunning detailed vocal track.
“Never Had No One Ever”, the fourth track from The Queen is Dead after the macabre masterpiece “I Know It’s Over” is by no means lackluster but no one had told us about this! There’s a fullblown jazz trumpet chorus, out of this world falsetto and maniacal laughter throughout the background. Not the classic Smiths sound at all, but it is produced incredibly well.
This version of “The Boy Racer” is more reminiscent of the era between Vauxhall and I, Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted, the string of acoustic driven singles like “Boxers” or “Sunny” that became adventurous ballads with the acoustic air. The guitar almost sounds Spanish, an influence which arise on latter albums such as his latest, World Peace is None of Your Business.
“Southpaw” the 10 minute title track to Southpaw Grammar, here is condensed to about 9 minutes. It presents the different sort of majesty, like what was highlighted in the Boxers and Sunny with a strong acoustic presence. This would easily be the climax of an acoustic Morrissey record. The material from this album holds up very strong, with Morrissey quoted as saying during our interview with him that, “I think it’s a criminally underrated album and the band were in full flourish… thought the band were so fantastic that the world would open up and finally admit that the Morrissey band were a formidable force.” It would have been interesting to see how a more acoustic direction would have taken this album and here we have a glimpse.
Lastly, we have “Nobody Loves Us”, the b-side to “Dagenham Dave”, the lead single off of Southpaw Grammar. The last testament to the acoustics of Southpaw Grammar, while it is missing the strong electric guitar leads, simply just Morrissey and two acoustic guitars makes for an amazing torch song. Some of my favorite Morrissey lyrics here too, “born again atheist, practicing troublemaker.” I can only hope more of these demos are released.
On the Soundcloud are several Smiths instrumentals which are truly masterful pieces, with Johnny Marr in his prime, none of which are previously known.
Morrissey is about to close off a successful tour with concerts in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas the end of this December until early January. More info here.