9:47 AM GMT 08/05/2013
In the current issue of MOJO, Martin Aston chronicles the remarkable on-the-road metamorphosis that Morrissey, Marr, Rourke and Joyce underwent in 1985, transforming them from fey, indie janglers into a world-conquering rock band. As a video companion to the magazine feature, Andrew Male selects some choice snippets of dramatic theatrics from the greatest 80s band of them all.
1. How Soon Is Now?
Hard to believe that this rag-bag video, produced by Sire Records and premiered on the January 1985 issue of the Rockamerica promo video series, was responsible for breaking The Smiths in America. Quoth Moz: "We saw the video and we said to Sire, 'You can't possibly release this... this degrading video.' And they said, 'Well, maybe you shouldn't really be on our label.' It was quite disastrous".
2. In the studio
To accompany the chart-topping UK release of Meat Is Murder The Old Grey Whistle Test broadcast this short film of the band in the studio 'recording' the album: "Funfairs in Manchester are very violent things." My schoolmate Simon Davies perfectly duplicated Johnny Marr's brilliant, jet-black 'boyhive'. ________________________________________________________________________
3. Shakespears Sister
Broadcast on the day of the single's release (March 18, 1985) on BBC2's Oxford Road Show (look out for a gurning in-the-studio Timmy Mallett dressed as a naval captain), this still peculiar performance sent shockwaves through Smithsdom, with confused fans wondering, is this more pure Smiths genius or something a bit rubbish?
4. That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
A free concert on May 18, 1985, at Paseo De Camoens, Madrid, Spain, funded by the Socialist Party to celebrate the Saint Isidro bank holiday. It's all on YouTube but a highlight is this impassioned gig farewell, Morrissey pouring all his broken emotion into an extended two-minute outro.
5. Bigmouth Strikes Again
Blurred, ancient video technology smuggled into the Magnum Leisure Centre, Irvine, North Ayrshire on September 22, 1985 somehow perfectly captures the rough, driving rock excitement of this pre-release unveiling of the band's tenth single.
6. Hand In Glove
"Glasgow was absolutely insane," remembers Mike Joyce in the current issue. See for yourself in this clip from the sweat-drenched September 25 performance of their debut single at a packed-to-the-rafters Barrowlands.
7. The Queen Is Dead
Pt 1 of Derek Jarman's still-astonishing art-film collage for The Smith's third album. The scratched, degraded images of a scrap-heap nation that accompany the title track still resonate strongly today. Premiered on Channel 4. Like that would happen now. And a major influence on my University haircut.
8. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out / Panic
Pt 2 of the Jarman short. Panic still looks great but it's odd how the haunting beauty of There Is A Light now seems inseparable from the images in Jarman's film, shimmering strings echoed in Jarman's superimposition of flickering orange light-on-water and riot footage of burning cars.
9. Vicar In A Tutu
A wobble? Gannon appears to add little, Morrissey looks as if he's come to fix the photocopier and, if we are to judge the degree of Andy Rourke's chemical troubles by the blondness of his hair then things were grim indeed.
10. The Queen Is Dead
But then there is this. University of Salford, July 20, 1986. Described in Martin Aston's feature as an example of a rock band at their absolute peak, the frenzied, hypnotic power of The Smiths here just has to be seen to be believed. Apologies for the bootleg quality but, I mean, wow!
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 2:34 PM GMT 18/02/2011