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Top 10 Smiths B-Sides

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From 1983 to 1988 The Smiths produced 4 studio albums (The Smiths – Meat is murder – The Queen is dead – Strangeways here we come ) 1 live album (rank) And three compilations. (Hatful of Hollow – The world won’t listen – Louder than bombs)

What made The Smiths stand out amongst their peers,was not only the quality of their albums and singles,but the quality of their B-Sides,who else would put the majestic How soon is now on a b-side?

So for this top 10,I will focus on The Smiths b-sides.

Let your juvenile impulses sway

10: Stretch Out and Wait

B-side to Shakespeare’s Sister. This song only made it as a b-side on the 12 inch single as What she said was preferred on the 7 inch,I am not sure why,as what she said was already an album track on meat is murder and more importantly,this is the better song.

He had an accident with a three-bar fire

9: Sweet and Tender Hooligan

B-side to Sheila take a bow. Only The Smiths would have a title song with a girl called Sheila. Hooligan is Morrissey at his comical best,he gets a lot of stick for his lyrics being depressing,but they never are,they are poetic,sad,introspective,clever,witty,and often funny. Is It Really So Strange? is also a b-side to Sheila.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars

8: Oscillate Wildly

The Smiths were also well known for their instrumentals,no lyrics,just some damn fine music,this for me is the best of them,a play on words where Oscar Wilde becomes Oscillate Wildly. This was the b-side to the re-released How soon is now. The haunting Well I Wonder was also on the b-side.

There is a better world,Well, there must be.

7: Asleep

B-side to The Boy with the Thorn in His Side,If you go on youtube and look at the comments,most people arrive at this song from hearing it on The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the most sombre of all Smiths songs,a song about suicide,a subject not often approached in music. The song ends with a piano playing Auld lang syne. The 12 inch also contains the brilliant Rubber ring.

Yellow and green,A stumbling block

6: I Keep Mine Hidden

B-side to Girlfriend in a Coma, a jolly upbeat song,with whistling,who doesn’t like a bit of whistling to start off a song?

I keep mine hidden was to be the last song The Smiths recorded together.

Also on the b-side was a cover of Cilla Blacks work is a four letter word,Johnny Marr apparently hated this song and though it wasn’t the sole reason for The Smiths break up,it certainly contributed. Marr saying later “I didn’t form a group to perform Cilla Black songs.”

And you think they’re sad because you’re leaving

5: London

The B-side to Shoplifters of the World Unite,The Smiths rocking it like they have never rocked it before or since,a song about moving away and leaving everything you have ever known behind and how that affects you and those you left behind. The beautiful half a person is also a b-side to shoplifters. (I probably should of included this in my ten)

There’s more to life than books you know,but not much more

4: Handsome Devil

Handsome devil is the b-side to The Smiths debut single,hand in glove,a live recording made at Manchesters Hacienda in 1983,The Smiths in full rock out mode. The b-side was a statement of intent for what was to come,unlike other acts,for The Smiths,b-sides would not be throwaway songs,they would be the equivalent of and comparable to the A-sides.

Haven’t had a dream in a long time

3: Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want

This was the B-side to William it was really nothing,both incredibly short songs,William was only 2 minutes 10 seconds,Please please was even shorter at 1 minute 50. But music isn’t about quantity,it is about quality,and both songs were just that. This song has been reproduced more than any other Smiths song,featuring in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,an instrumental version by The Dream academy,and played in the gallery scene. It was also a Christmas number 1 in the UK when it featured on a John Lewis ad and sung by Slow Moving Millie. And just to show how good they were,on the 12 inch they also included How soon is now A song which would later be released as a single in its own right.

I’m not sure what happiness means

2: Jeane

The b-side to This charming man,this could very easily have been a single itself,another rocking tune,with driving drums and guitars. This was The Smiths second single,people were starting to really take notice of them,could they really keep up this quality of output? Course they could.

And you never knew,how much I really liked you

1: Back To The Old House

Back to the old house was a B-side to What difference does it make,a painful,beautiful,melancholic song,that looks back to the past with mixed feelings,one of unhappiness,but mixed with regret of the one that got away.

“When you cycled by
Here began all my dreams
The saddest thing I’ve ever seen
And you never knew
How much I really liked you
Because I never even told you
Oh, but I meant to”

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3 thoughts on “Top 10 Smiths B-Sides

  1. So hard to pick a favourite Smith’s b-side, as their ‘b’s are better than most band’s ‘a-sides’.
    Although I do prefer the version of ‘Jeane’ that they did with Sandie Shaw – somehow being stripped back to vocals and an acoustic guitar actually makes it more propulsive.

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