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The Smiths – Songs That Changed Your Life (Double Decker Records DD22051959)

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Songs That Changed Your Life (Double Decker Records DD22051959)

Songs That Changed Your Life is one of the most ambitious Smiths titles to come out in years.  With five audio and one video discs, it contains hours of music with material ranging from their intial recording sessions in 1983 through to their final paid public performance in December 1986.  It is remarkable to think of how influential The Smiths were in a little less than five years.    

Double Decker include a thick booklet with a long and detailed history of the band which begins:  “The Smiths were the greatest British band of the ’80′s, maybe of all-time. Their singer Morrissey combined the wit and style of Oscar Wilde with the good looks and poise of James Dean to become the landmark artist of his era. No other lyricist so vividly captured the unbearable plight of the lonely, heartbroken, and disenfranchised. No other vocalist sang with such beauty, bravely crooning where others would simply shout. No other pop star dressed as well or had a better hairstyle than Morrissey.

“No one charmed the press with wit and intelligence like he did. There really is no compare – Martin Rossiter aside, there will never be another like Morrissey… Guitarist Johnny Marr provided the perfect musical accompaniment to Morrissey’s tales of loneliness while bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce provided the sturdy backbone. Although they dissolved in 1987 over a myriad of personal differences between Morrissey and Marr, The Smiths remain one of the the most influential groups of all-time.”

Audio Disc 1 

(79:07), The Complete Troy Tate sessions:  Reel Around The Fountain, You’ve Got Everything Now, Miserable Lie, These Things Take Time, Wonderful Woman, Handsome Devil, Suffer Little Children, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Hand In Glove, What Difference Does It Make?, I Don’t Owe You Anything, Jeane, Accept Yourself, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Miserable Lie (alternative mix), Pretty Girls Make Graves (alternative mix), Reel Around The Fountain (alternative mix), What Difference Does It Make (alternative mix), Wonderful Woman (alternative mix)

Audio disc one starts with the Troy Tate sessions.  These are the very first studio songs recorded by the Smiths under the production of Troy Tate in the summer of 1983.  The band were unsatisfied with the results are re-recorded their debut with producer John Porter.  Double Decker use the twelve song tape that first surfaced in the early nineties as a basis for this collection of rough mixes of the tracks which also seem to run a bit too slow.  The second set of Tate sessions which surfaced in the mid-nineties on “Reel Around The Fountain” and “Wonderful Woman” follow and are also in excellent quality.  DD also include “Pretty Girls Make Graves” for completeness.

Audio Disc 2

(74:03) Apollo Theatre, Oxford, England – March 18th, 1985:  William It Was Really Nothing, Nowhere Fast, What She Said, Hand In Glove, How Soon Is Now?, Stretch Out And Wait, That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore, Shakespeare’s Sister, The Headmaster Ritual, Still ill, Meat Is Murder, Miserable Lie, Barbarism Begins At Home, You’ve Got Everything Now.  BBC demos:  Reel Around The Fountain, This Charming Man, Still ill, Wonderful Woman

The second disc contains most of the March 18th, 1985 soundboard recording from the Apollo Theatre in Oxford about a month after the release of their second LP Meat Is Murder.  This concert was first broadcast on Janice Long’s programme on BBC radio the following May and is still broadcast now and then.  The track sequence varies and three songs, ”I Want The One I Can’t Have”, “Rusholme Ruffians” and “Handsome Devil” have never been broadcast.  Also “You’ve Got Everything Now” is taken from another, unspecified date.

The sound quality is excellent stereo and yielded some tracks for official release.  Specifically, “Nowhere Fast”, “Stretch Out And Wait”, “Shakespeare’s Sister” and “Meat Is Murder” can be found on the single “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” and on “The Headmaster Ritual” single in Holland.  These same songs minus “Shakespeare’s Sister” were released on the “The Headmaster Ritual” cd-single.

“What She Said” was featured on a 7″ titled “Poll Winners” which was given away with a 1985 issue of the NME. Finally, “Meat Is Murder” was included on the UK edition of the various artists LP Animal Liberation.  For unofficial releases, the most popular title is Same Day Again with the complete fourteen song broadcast.  Others include Live In Europe and Radio One In Concert 9.5.85.

For the Oxford show The Smiths pull regular inclusions in the setlist such as “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Reel Around The Fountain” but include the rare ”You’ve Got Everything Now.”  In set opener “William, It Was Really Nothing” he made a slight mistake when he sang “…and if you like you can buy the ring, *I* doesn’t care about anything”.   Before “What She Said”, knowing that the concert was being recorded for posterity, he announced “I hope you take notes … this will all be relevant one day…” The most recent single “Shakespeare’s Sister” was introduced by Morrissey as “our new single, which is about the greatest woman that ever lived.”  Unfortunately Morrissey’s quip before the encores “Miserable Lie,” when he says ”This is being taped by the jolly BBC, so if anybody has anything clever to say, say it now and go down in history” is missing from the recording.

The BBC demos that close disc two include two from the 1983 Jensen session, “Feel Around The Fountain” and “Wonderful Woman.”  The other two tracks, “Still ill” and “This Charming Man” originate from their appearance on ”The Tube” television show on BBC TV.  All four tracks are in excellent sound quality. 

Audio Disc 3

(76:11):  Brixton Academy, London, England – December 12th, 1986:  Introduction, Ask, Bigmouth Strikes Again, London, Miserable Lie, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, Shoplifters Of The World Unite, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Is It Really So Strange, Cemetery Gates, This Night Has Opened My Eyes, Still ill, Panic, The Queen Is Dead, William It Was Really Nothing, Hand In Glove.  Fighting Cocks, Birmingham, England - June 3rd, 1983:  Wonderful Woman, These Things Take Time, I Don’t Owe You Anything, Hand In Glove.  Radio 1, Saturday live – April 14th, 1984:  I Don’t Owe You Anything (with Sandie Shaw)

The December 12th, 1986 Brixton Academy show was a benefit for the Artists Against Apartheid.  It was originally set for November 14th at the Royal Albert Hall but had to be rescheduled due to Johnny’s car accident.  And except for a few television appearances this is the final Smith’s live show and is the opposite of their previous appearance at Brixton Academy in October where there were many tensions. 

The tape for this show is a very good to excellent audience recording taped very close to the stage which first surfaced on the 2LP vinyl release Royal Command Performance.  This release came from a high generation tape, sounding muffled and missing ”Ask”, “Bigmouth Strikes Again”, “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” and “Is It Really So Strange?”  Compact disc releases include Somebody Waved Goodbye, Never Had No One Ever and The Final Gig.  The master cassette has since been lost, but Double Decker use a very low generation copy with really nice sound. 

It starts off with a near-complete opening tape of Take Me Back To Dead Old Blighty.  It is complete except that “The Queen Is Dead” is spliced in from another tape source.  Delivering a lively performance, witnesses could see much fun and happiness on stage.  During “Still Ill,” Marr moved next to Andy and Morrissey joined them. They could be seen smiling and laughing as if they were in on some inside joke.

After the opening tape they start off with “Ask.”  Mike teases the audience with the drum beat to “Panic” before “Bigmouth Strikes Again” which was extended with a longer intro.  At the end of “London,” the following song, the band plays the songs bridge into the fast-tempo outro to “Miserable Lie.”

“Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” was the only song from The Queen Is Deadwhich had never been played live before.  Its performance in this show the only time.  Morrissey adds an additional verse, singing:  “On the shop floor, there’s a calendar, as obvious as snow, as if we didn’t know.”  A few songs later, the soon to be released “Shoplifters Of The World Unite” was introduced with “This is our new single…”

“This Night Has Opened My Eyes” which hadn’t been played in a long time was also performed. Finally, “William, It Was Really Nothing” and the live staple “Hand In Glove” which had been dropped on the recent British leg of the “The Queen Is Dead” tour also returned.  The Smiths then returned for a final two-song encore. The last of these was “Hand In Glove.”  It ends with Morrissey wailing in a high pitched voice for about 20 seconds. The Smiths didn’t know it at the time, but with its final line “I’ll probably never see you again,” “Hand In Glove,” the band’s first ever release, is a fitting finale.

The Brixton tape with The Smith’s final gig is followed by a soundboard fragment of one their earliest Smiths gig.  The recording from Fighting Cocks in Birmingham was also released on Reel Around The Fountain and Wilde About The Smiths, both of with are more complete than Songs That Changed Your Life.    

The tape picks up more than halfway through the set with the new song “Wonderful Woman.”  This performance contains minor lyrical differences than the studio take released on “This Charming Man” single, such as ”I ask myself / What to be said of her?” was still “Ah answer me / what do be done with her.”

Morrissey introduces “These Things Take Time” with “Four very sad words, a sad fact of life, ‘These Things Take Time.’”  And before “Hand In Glove” he thanks the audience and continues by saying that “this is our first single which is actually charted. It’s number 70 this week.  Next week higher.” In the song, instead of singing “but we have something they’ll never have,” Morrissey sings “we have something they never had,” which was common on the early tours.

Audio Disc 4

(72:02):  Vinyl rarities (various sources):  Accept Yourself, The Draize Train (studio), Work Is A Four Letter World, I Keep Mine Hidden, Handsome Devil, Hand In Glove, Girl Afraid, William It Was Really Nothing, Nowhere Fast, What She Said, Stretch Out & Wait, Shakespeare’s Sister, Meat Is Murder, Miserable Lie, What’s The World, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, Rusholme Ruffians, Nowhere Fast, William It Was Really Nothing, Hand In Glove (with Sandie Shaw), I Don’t Owe You Anything (with Sandie Shaw), Jeane (with Sandie Shaw)

Disc four is a copy of the first disc of the 2CD Vinyl Rarities boot.  It contains a mixture of studio and live tracks from various source but all of them being very good to excellent.

Accept Yourself (Studio Version) – This Charming Man CD1
The Draize Train (Studio Version) – Panic CD
Work Is A Four Letter Word – Sweet and Tender Hooligan CD
I Keep Mine Hidden – Sweet and Tender Hooligan CD
Handsome Devil (Hacienda 1983) – Handsome Devils Promo CD
Hand In Glove (London 1983) – There Is A Light CD1
Girl Afraid (live Paris 1984) – El Dorado (bootleg)
William It Was Really Nothing (Oxford 1985) – Same Day Again (bootleg)
Nowhere Fast (Oxford 1985) – The Headmaster Ritual/That Joke Isn’t Funny
Anymore
CD
What She Said (Oxford 1985) – Same Day Again (bootleg) and NME rarity
Stretch Out and Wait (Oxford 1985) – The Headmaster Ritual/That Joke
Isn’t Funny Anymore
CD
Shakespeare’s Sister (Oxford 1985) – The Headmaster Ritual/That Joke
Isn’t Funny Anymore
CD
Meat Is Murder (Oxford 1985) – The Headmaster Ritual/That Joke Isn’t
Funny Anymore
CD
Miserable Lie (Oxford 1985) – Same Day Again (bootleg) and COMPILATION
Sampler rarity
What’s The World (Glasgow 1985) – Sweet and Tender Hooligan CD
Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others (Brixton 1986) – There Is A Light CD1
Rusholme Ruffians (Peel) – Last Night I Dreamt CD
Nowhere Fast (Peel) – Last Night I Dreamt CD
William It Was Really Nothing (Peel) – Last Night I Dreamt CD
Hand In Glove (Sandie Shaw) – There Is A Light CD2
I Don’t Owe You Anything (Sandie Shaw) – There Is A Light CD2
Jeane (Sandie Shaw) – There Is A Light CD2

Audio Disc 5

(78:11):  Derby Assembly Rooms – December 6th, 1983:  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, You’ve Got Everything Now.  Belfast Queen’s University - February 12nd, 1986:  Stretch Out & Wait, That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore, Nowhere Fast, What She Said, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Bigmouth Strikes Again, Meat Is Murder, William It Was Really Nothing, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, Hand In Glove

The fifth and final audio disc is similar three with two tapes, one from the beginning and ending of The Smith’s career.  The first half is devoted to the December 6th, 1983 Derby show recorded by the Old Grey Whistle Test for the BBC and broadcast many times.

They begin with “Handsome Devil” and “Still Ill.”  Morrissey introdduces ”Pretty Girls Make Graves” saying ”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.”

During “Miserable Lie” someone in the audience threw a flower towards the stage and hit Morrissey in the eye.  He leaves the stage and the band finsh the song as an instrumental, but he returns in time to sing the “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.”

Morrissey changes 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 neversad”. “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.

For the encore they start  ”You’ve Got Everything Now” but 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.

The second half of the disc contains most of the February 12th, 1986 Belfast show from a very good to excellent audience tape.  The first six songs, “Shakespeare’s Sister,” “I Want The One I Can’t Have,” “Vicar In A Tutu,” “(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame/Rusholme Ruffians,” “Cemetery Gates” and “Still Ill.”

The setlist was a typical one for this period with the band playing songs that would appear on The Queen Is Dead.  The audience is very vocal and after ”Vicar In A Tutu”, Morrissey says, “That was a new song called, called…” is drowned out by the audience’s cheering.  After “Nowhere Fast”, Johnny teased the audience with the first notes of “This Charming Man”.

Before “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” he announced “This is another new song so listen…”  When they return for the final encore, Morrissey apologised in a strained voice “Sorry about the voice, it’s just about to go” and dedicated the next song “This is for our dear friends The June Brides… sweet boys… ‘Hand In Glove’!”  A very good show from the last months of their live career.

DVD Video Disc

Televsision appearances:  Hand In Glove (The Tube), Still ill (The Tube), Barbarism Begins At Home (The Tube), How Soon Is Now? (Video), What Difference Does It Make?(TOTP), Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before(Video), There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Tube), Panic (The Tube), This Charming Man (Video), Sheila Take A Bow (The Tube), Shoplifters Of The World Unite (The Tube), Panic (Video), Shakespear’s Sister (The Tube), The Headmaster Ritual (The Tube), Ask (Video), Live Barrowlands Glasgow 1985: Meat Is Murder, Hand In Glove, Girlfriend In A Coma.  Plus live shows:  Paseo De Camoens, Madrid, Spain - May 18th, 1985:  William It Was Really Nothing, Nowhere Fast, I Want The One I Can’t Have, What She Said, How Soon Is Now, Handsome Devil, The Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore, Shakespear’s Sister, Rusholme Ruffians, Headmaster Ritual, Hand In Glove, Still ill, Meat Is Murder, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, Ask, Barbarism Begins At Home, This Charming Man, You’ve Got Everything Now.

Assembly Rooms, Derby, England – December 7th, 1983:  You Handsome Devil, Ask, This Charming Man, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Miserable Lie, What Difference Does It Make, Nowhere Fast, Still ill, Hand In Glove, Handsome Devil, You’ve Got Everything Now.  Rockpalast, Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany – May 4th, 1984:  Hand In Glove, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, Girl Afraid, This Charming Man, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Still ill, Barbarism Begins At Home, You’ve Got Everything Now, Handsome Devil, This Night Has Opened My Eyes, Pretty Girls Make Graves, What Difference Does It Make, These Things Take Time, This Charming Man, Hand In Glove, Headmaster Ritual.

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The Smiths - Songs That Changed Your Life (Double Decker Records DD22051959), 3.4 out of 5 based on 7 ratings

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