Despite having a career lasting barely five years, The Smiths have left an indelible mark on British music. In a decade marred by the horror that was Johnny Hates Jazz, Rick Astley, and (most of) SAW, The Smiths were one of those 80s bands that stood out from the crowd. And not only did they feature a fiercely intelligent songwriter, a lead guitarist capable of creating beautiful sounds, and a strong rhythm section, but they were incredibly productive. They left behind not only four studio albums and a live LP, but amassed enough “extra” material to fill up several “odds and sods” albums. Whilst a lot of 80s acts released singles that were used to plug a current album, The Smiths released a sizeable number of stand-alone A sides, which makes their back catalogue an interesting slab of music to collect. Here then, is a look at just how they released this material - and how subsequent decades have seen The Smiths re-emerge into the limelight again and again.
The Smiths history can be traced back to the late 70s, when Morrissey (“The Voice”) and Johnny Marr (“The Guitar”) were briefly introduced - only to go their separate ways. However, as Marr formed and split a succession of Manchester based bands, he ended up recruiting Morrissey in 1982, partly due to the fact that they shared a love of the New York Dolls (Morrissey famously wrote a book about them, and part-ran their fan club). Coronation Street actor Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts) is often mentioned as being part of an early incarnation of the band, although the truth is he was in a pre-Smiths band with Marr and Andy Rourke (who played “The Bass” from the band’s third gig onwards). The quartet was completed by Mike Joyce (“The Drums”) and by 1983, had signed to independent label Rough Trade.
The band’s debut single, “Hand In Glove” was released to rave reviews, but to only moderate sales. The cover of the single came in an iconic ‘male nude’ sleeve, which gave The Smiths a sort of “anti-macho” image from the very start. The b-side was a live recording of a track called “Handsome Devil”, recorded at what was only their third ever show, at the Manchester Hacienda on 4th February 1983. The band would never get around to releasing a studio version of this song. If “Hand In Glove” had failed to set the world alight as the band’s already hardcore fanbase hoped it would, the follow up fared much better. “This Charming Man” became one of the bands signature tunes, helped into the charts by featuring different B-sides on different formats. On the 12”, there were two versions of the song, subtitled “Manchester” and “London”. These refer to the different studios in which attempts were made to record the definitive version of the song - the “London” version was an early version recorded in the capital, but was felt to be lacking something. The band then went, not to Manchester, but to Stockport to record what became the single version (“Manchester” probably sounds hipper than “Stockport”). Whenever “This Charming Man” appears on record without it’s suffix, it’s the “Manchester” version that you will get to hear. By the end of the year, a 12” pairing a couple of remixes was released - the mixes were done by Francois Kevorkian in New York, and as such were known as the “New York Vocal” and “New York Instrumental” mixes. It was claimed that these mixes were done without the band’s permission, but the fact that the former appeared on the band-endorsed, deluxe edition of the 2008 compilation “The Sound Of The Smiths”, somewhat contradicts this.
The band’s debut LP, “The Smiths” was issued in 1984. Although it garnered exciteable reviews, the band themselves were disappointed with the record, primarily because the takes that were used were from later recording sessions - an early version of the album, recorded with Troy Tate, was scrapped after completion, and rather than attempt to remix it, the decision was taken to re-record it with a new producer from scratch. Fans claim that because the band were attempting to record some of these songs for the umpteenth time, the energy that was evident in their live shows was zapped from them in the studio by this time. The single mix of “Hand In Glove” was not included, although an inferior “new” mix was used instead, whilst “This Charming Man” was completely absent from many pressings, such as the UK Vinyl editon.
Thereafter, the band got into releasing standalone A sides again, after their third single had been “What Difference Does It Make”, included on the first LP. On the second of these, “William It Was Really Nothing”, certain formats included the next “classic” Smiths moment, “How Soon Is Now” - an epic six minute exercise in lyrical and guitar genius, which surely stands up as the greatest B-side ever recorded by anybody. Indeed, Rough Trade were so impressed, they decided to then release the track as the band’s next A-side, a move which Morrissey was opposed to (the band later re-located to London to “keep an eye on the record company”).
By the tail end of 84, the band had amassed enough material for Rough Trade to release the first “odds and sods” record, “Hatful Of Hollow” - generally regarded as being a better record than “The Smiths”. A 16 track album, it consisted of 10 BBC session tracks (mostly taped for John Peel), along with three stand alone A-sides (including “Hand In Glove”, four if you include “How Soon Is Now”) but failed to include the previously issued versions of “Handsome Devil” or “This Charming Man” (both appeared in BBC Session form instead). None of the “This Charming Man” b-sides made the set either in their original form. Other early B-sides were also missing, but appeared on later compilation LPs.
The band’s “proper” second LP, 1985’s “Meat Is Murder”, finally established the band as a force to be reckoned with. The photo that appeared on the CD, rather than being enlarged in size for the LP, was instead reprinted four times to make up the vinyl front cover. A month after it’s release, another non-album 45 was issued, “Shakespeare’s Sister”, a track that was issued as a AA-side with the “Meat Is Murder” track, “Barbarism Begins At Home” in many overseas countries.
No sooner was the promo campaign for “Meat Is Murder” coming to a close, than more new material appeared, when “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” was issued as a single at the end of the year. Later included, in alternate form on the following year’s “The Queen Is Dead” long player, the 12” featured two B-sides which segued from one to another (“Rubber Ring” and “Asleep”). Both tracks have appeared, numerous times, on compilation sets, but always in edited form, and the mixes on the 12” are still, to this day, unique.
“The Queen Is Dead” remains, to many Smiths fans, the band’s ultimate moment. Hidden away on the record was arguably the band’s greatest recording, “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”, which was later issued as a single in France, but did not get a UK release at the time. My wife and I love this song so much, it was played at our wedding - despite actually being a song about suicide! Yet again, the band were still not resting on their laurels, and issued another stand alone single, “Panic”, barely a month later. “Panic” marked the recording debut of the band’s fifth member, Craig Gannon, who had been brought into the band in early 86 to replace Andy Rourke, who had been fired due to his drug addiction. However, Rourke agreed to clean himself up, and thus rejoined soon after, and Gannon was kept on as a second guitarist, as Marr thought it would be unfair to fire him so soon after joining. “Panic” was famously written after an incident on Radio 1 where a news report about the Chernobyl disaster was followed immediately by DJ Steve Wright playing a crappy, fluffy, and frankly horrible Wham song. Although "Panic" resulted in an awkward rift between the band and Wright (he offered to join them onstage during a gig to sing backing vocals on the song - they refused), the tension has died down in recent years; Morrissey appeared on Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show a few years ago to be interviewed circa the release of his “You Are The Quarry” solo album.
Another standalone 45, “Ask”, was the next UK release. This track, along with plenty of other “non album” material would later be issued on the 1987 collection “The World Won’t Listen” - but bizarrely, a shorter version of the track was included on the album. This explains why a non album 45 sometimes gets referred to in it’s “Single Mix” or “Album Mix” form! By the time the band released their next non-LP A-side, 1987’s “Shoplifters Of The World Unite”, The Smiths had - unbeknown to anybody at the time - played their last ever gig, at London’s Brixton Academy on 12th December 1986. Gannon, notably, had already left the band before this point.
“The World Won’t Listen” differed from “Hatful Of Hollow” in that session material was excluded, but selected album tracks were included to fill up the set. As well as the “new” version of “Ask”, the version of “Shakespeare’s Sister” B-side, “Stretch Out And Wait”, was an alternate mix as well. Another new song, “Sheila Take A Bow” was then issued as what would be the last “stand alone” 45 issued by the band, as all subsequent singles to be issued were taken from the band’s fourth and final studio LP, “Strangeways Here We Come”. “Sheila” was included on a US only compilation “Louder Than Bombs”, which was effectively an expanded (and altered) version of “The World Won’t Listen”, and was deemed important enough to later warrant a UK release, as it included B-sides not on "The World Won't Listen". There was also another rarity, as a different version of “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby” was included to that previously issued.
The end was now in sight - the band had split into two camps with Marr effectively leaving the group. The Smiths signed to EMI, but by the time the remnants of the band appeared on stage at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 1988, the group had finally disbanded, and it was Rourke and Joyce backing a solo Morrissey, rather than a new line up of the band. Although the remainder of the band had toyed with the idea of making a fifth LP (a replacement for Marr was even brought in), Morrissey’s debut 45, “Suedehead”, was issued by EMI - and featured no ex-Smiths other than Morrissey himself. It was finally over.
In 1988, several Smiths singles from 1984 onwards were reissued on CD, mirroring the track listings (and artwork) of the original 12” pressings. A handful of singles that were issued in other countries, but not the UK, were also issued as A-sides for the first time - these being “Barbarism Begins At Home” and “The Headmaster Ritual”. Morrissey also oversaw the release of live album “Rank”, a gig from the Kilburn National on 23rd October 1986 which had originally been taped by the BBC. For the LP, Morrissey selected an hour’s worth of highlights, meaning that several of the tracks broadcast by the BBC remained officially unavailable. And that was it.
The discography below lists at least one format of all of the Smiths singles in the order in which they were issued in the UK between 1983 and 1988. Where a format is unlisted, it is because the single contains no exclusive material, but another format of the same single does include exclusive recordings (ie. “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” features material on the UK 7” available elsewhere, but the 12” pressing includes one song never released on another single or LP in the UK). Foreign pressings can confuse matters, so I suggest you have a look at the “Passions Just Like Mine” website for further info - link at the foot of this page - which lists the additional formats and foreign releases. Most of the band’s earlier A and B sides have been compiled on a variety of compilation LP’s, and the album discography that follows lists the main selling points of each of the compilations that were issued before 1991. In the 1990s, there was something of a Smiths "comeback", which saw further releases by the band - and there were even more "new" records in the "noughties". The releases from 1992 onwards are discussed thereafter, and I would suggest you look at all three discographies listed here to see what songs re-surfaced, and which singles were repressed, as some of these later releases are worthy of attention. There was one "interim" release at the end of the 80s, when Strange Fruit records issued a 4 track EP on 12" and CD containing an entire Peel Session from 1983 - this is worth getting as it included an otherwise unavailable take of "Miserable Lie" - the remaining tracks were all previously available on "Hatful Of Hollow".
Hand In Glove (7” Mix)/Handsome Devil (Live Manchester Hacienda 4.2.1983) (7”, RT 131, some in mispressed “negative” sleeve)
This Charming Man (Manchester)/Jeane (7”, RT 136)
This Charming Man (Manchester)/(London)/Accept Yourself/Wonderful Woman (12”, RTT 136)
This Charming Man (New York Vocal)/(New York Instrumental) (Remix 12”, RTT 136 NY)
What Difference Does It Make? (7” Edit)/Back To The Old House (7”, RT 146, issued in either “Morrissey” or “Terence Stamp” sleeves)
What Difference Does It Make? (Album Version)/Back To The Old House/These Things Take Time (12”, RTT 146, issued in either “Morrissey” or “Terence Stamp” sleeves)
What Difference Does It Make? (Album Version)/Back To The Old House/These Things Take Time (CD, RTT 146 CD, issued in “Terence Stamp” sleeve, 1988 pressing)
Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now/Suffer Little Children (7”, RT 156)
Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now/Girl Afraid/Suffer Little Children (12”, RTT 156)
Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now/Girl Afraid/Suffer Little Children (CD, RTT 156 CD, 1988 pressing)
William It Was Really Nothing/Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (7”, RT 166, later reissued in different colour p/s with “How Soon Is Now” on b-side instead)
William It Was Really Nothing/How Soon Is Now/Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (12”, RTT 166, issued in two different coloured sleeves)
William It Was Really Nothing/How Soon Is Now/Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (CD, RTT 166 CD, unique p/s, 1988 pressing)
How Soon Is Now (Edited Version)/Well I Wonder (7”, RT 176)
How Soon Is Now (Original Mix)/Well I Wonder/Oscillate Wildly (12”, RTT 176)
Shakespeare’s Sister/What She Said (7”, RT 181)
Shakespeare’s Sister/What She Said/Stretch Out And Wait (12”, RTT 181)
That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore (Album Mix)/Nowhere Fast (Live In Oxford)/Stretch Out And Wait (Live In Oxford)/Shakespeare’s Sister (Live In Oxford)/Meat Is Murder (Live In Oxford) (12”, RTT 186)
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (Single Mix)/Rubber Ring/Asleep (12” Mix) (12”, RTT 191)
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (Single Mix)/Rubber Ring/Asleep (12” Mix) (CD, RTT 191 CD, black & white p/s, 1988 pressing)
Bigmouth Strikes Again/Money Changes Everything (7”, RT 192)
Bigmouth Strikes Again/Money Changes Everything/Unloveable (12”, RTT 192)
Panic/Vicar In A Tutu (7”, RT 193)
Panic/Vicar In A Tutu/The Draize Train (12”, RTT 193)
Panic/Vicar In A Tutu/The Draize Train (CD, RTT 193 CD)
Ask (7” Mix)/Cemetry Gates (7”, RT 194)
Ask (7” Mix)/Cemetry Gates/Golden Lights (12”, RTT 194)
Ask (7” Mix)/Cemetry Gates/Golden Lights (Cassette, RTT 194 C)
Ask (7” Mix)/Cemetry Gates/Golden Lights (CD, RTT 194 CD)
Shoplifters Of The World Unite/Half A Person (7”, RT 195)
Shoplifters Of The World Unite/London/Half A Person (12”, RTT 195)
Sheila Take A Bow/Is It Really So Strange (7”, RT 196)
Sheila Take A Bow/Is It Really So Strange/Sweet And Tender Hooligan (12”, RTT 196)
Girlfriend In A Coma/Work Is A Four Letter Word (Short Version) (7”, RT 197)
I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish/Pretty Girls Make Graves (Troy Tate Version) (7”, RT 198)
I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish/Pretty Girls Make Graves (Troy Tate Version)/Some Girls Are Bigger Than Other (Brixton Academy 12.12.1986) (12” RTT 198)
I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish/Pretty Girls Make Graves (Troy Tate Version)/Some Girls Are Bigger Than Other (Brixton Academy 12.12.1986)/What’s The World (Cassette, RTT 198 C)
Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me/Rusholme Ruffians (Peel Session)/Nowhere Fast (Peel Session)/William It Was Really Nothing (Peel Session) (CD, RTT 200 CD)
Barbarism Begins At Home (Edit)/Shakespeare’s Sister/Stretch Out And Wait (CD, RTT 171 CD)
The Headmaster Ritual/Nowhere Fast (Live In Oxford)/Stretch Out And Wait (Live In Oxford)/Meat Is Murder (Live In Oxford) (CD, RTT 215 CD, later withdrawn in UK, although believed to still be available thereafter in Australia)
First note: The b-sides of “Sheila Take A Bow” were actually recorded for a John Peel Session in 1986, but the band never released a standard studio version of either track.
Second note: It is worth pointing out that the following B-sides appeared on exclusive singles in other countries:
1) The Draize Train (b-side of “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” in Germany).
2) What’s The World (b-side of “Sweet And Tender Hooligan” in the USA. This was a cover of a James song recorded in Glasgow in 1985).
3) The live version of “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” taped at Brixton appeared again in the UK in 1992 - details in the next part of this article.
Third note: “Girlfriend In A Coma” was also issued on 12” and Cassette in the UK, but both B-sides (“I Keep Mine Hidden” and a longer version of “Work Is A Four Letter Word”) appeared on the German only “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”.
The Smiths (LP, ROUGH 61, selected pressings in various countries also include “This Charming Man (Manchester)”)
Hatful Of Hollow (LP, ROUGH 76, includes “Hand In Glove (7” Mix)”, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”, “Girl Afraid”, and all three tracks from “William It Was Really Nothing” 12”)
Meat Is Murder (LP, ROUGH 81)
The Queen Is Dead (LP, ROUGH 96)
The World Won’t Listen (LP, ROUGH 101, includes all A-sides from “Shakespeare’s Sister” through to “Panic”, including 7” mix of “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”, new mixes of “Ask” and “Stretch Out And Wait“, 7” mix of “Asleep” and new edit of “Rubber Ring”, and all non-album B-sides from “Bigmouth Strikes Again” to “Shoplifters Of The World Unite” (with the exception of "Money Changes Everything", available only on the cassette/CD pressings, and "Golden Lights", only included on the 1993 WEA reissue))
Strangeways Here We Come (LP, ROUGH 106)
Rank (LP, ROUGH 126)
Louder Than Bombs (2 x LP, ROUGH 255, includes most material from “The World Won’t Listen”, plus all tracks on “Sheila Take A Bow” 12”, “These Things Take Time”, “Back To The Old House”, “Stretch Out And Wait”)
Bearing in mind that certain Smiths A sides (and B sides) were included on one of the four studio records, this meant that the amount of rare material not included on the likes of “Hatful Of Hollow”, “The World Won’t Listen” and “Louder Than Bombs” was mostly restricted to earlier or later period singles. The tracks “missing” in 1991 were:
a) Handsome Devil (at the Hacienda)
b) the non-”Manchester” mixes of “This Charming Man” (and even the “Manchester” mix if you had the debut LP on vinyl)
c) all of the “This Charming Man” b-sides
d) the edits of “What Difference Does It Make”, “How Soon Is Now”, “Barbarism Begins At Home” and “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”
e) The live tracks from the “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” 12”
f) The original 12” mixes of “Rubber Ring” and “Asleep”
g) “The Draize Train”, and the A-side mix of “Ask”
h) all extra tracks from the three “Strangeways” related singles
As referred to earlier, some of these recordings would indeed remain exclusive to the original releases, but in 1992, some of these rarities started to re-surface, as a Smiths reissue campaign started in earnest.
Rough Trade had gone bankrupt at the end of the 80s, and the Smiths back catlogue was handed over to WEA, who set about reissuing the band’s back catalogue (including some strange 10 inch Vinyl pressings). A pair of Best of albums, titled “Best” and, err, “Best 2” were issued in 1992. In Europe, the photos used on the covers were actually part of a single picture (ie. If you put the two records side by side, it would make one photograph) - the original photo adorned the cover of a retrospective VHS, “The Complete Picture”, which included all of the band’s videos (including those that, officially, were never “real” promo videos, but were made for TV, such as “This Charming Man”. The Smiths did not make an official promo until 1985).
WEA also set about re-issuing several Smiths singles, as well as giving an A-side airing to what had been an album track only in the UK. Reissue number one was “This Charming Man”, released on two CD’s. The first one finally coupled all of the original B-sides together on one disc, whilst the second CD included the various different mixes of the A-side - including the two “New York” mixes. It also included the “original single mix”, which of course was the “Manchester” version, which appeared on the same disc as track 1, which made it’s inclusion a bit dubious, plus what seems to be a unique mix to this release, the “Single Remix” version. The picture sleeve used on the reissue was the same photo as the original pressing.
The next release was “How Soon Is Now”, issued again on two CD’s but this time in different coloured sleeves, neither of which was the same as the original UK release. The edited version appeared on CD1, but the second CD, rather oddly, featured the album mix as the LAST track on the CD - technically making the A-side “I Know It’s Over” (The Smiths are not the only band to do this - the 12” edition of the Manic Street Preachers' “Let Robeson Sing” featured the single’s B-side first).
The third single in this campaign was “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”, again issued in two different sleeves. The first CD included a live version of “Hand In Glove” taped at the Brixton Ace in 1983, although the sleevenotes claimed otherwise. This does not seem to be a mispressing, as the CD’s carried a sticker claiming that the single included “previously unreleased material”. The track had (sort of) been issued before, when it was included on a Rough Trade Sampler cassette released in 1983. The second CD featured as it’s extra tracks the three songs the band recorded with Sandie Shaw for a one-off 12” in 1984. Whether or not you want to hear The Smiths without Morrissey is entirely up to you, but it is an interesting concept.
In 1995, WEA released the “Singles” collection, which made a fair stab at pulling together the 17 A-sides the band issued during their lifetime in the UK, plus “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. However, they messed up by including the album mixes of certain tracks, instead of the single mixes. “Ask” meanwhile was reissued, in the same sleeve (and with the same B-sides) as the original version, but with the single mix replaced by the album mix from “The World Won’t Listen”, making this quite possibly the most pointless reissue of all time.
In 2001, WEA released a “revamped and expanded” edition of “Singles” called “The Very Best Of The Smiths”, with a highly inferior cover. The band disowned the release, which WEA put out on the basis that “Singles” had been deleted, and in their defence, they did at least include the single mixes of “Ask” and “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”.
Listed below is the band’s discography from 1992 to 2007 - the albums listed are the CD pressings, whilst I have listed all of the formats of the four "re-issued" 45s so you can pick and choose what you may or may not be interested in. You will note that some of the “vinyl only” B-sides had now found a home on CD, but as some of these singles were issued as limited editions, they are not too easy to track down cheaply anymore.
This Charming Man (Manchester)/Jeane (7”, YZ 0001)
This Charming Man (Manchester)/Jeane (Cassette, YZ 0001 C)
This Charming Man (Manchester)/Jeane/Wonderful Woman/Accept Yourself (CD1, YZ 0001 CD1)
This Charming Man (Manchester)/(London)/(New York Vocal)/(New York Instrumental)/(“Hatful Of Hollow” BBC Session Version)/(Single Remix)/(Manchester) (CD2, YZ 0001 CD2)
How Soon Is Now (Original Mix)/Hand In Glove (7” Mix) (7”, YZ 0002)
How Soon Is Now (Original Mix)/Hand In Glove (7” Mix) (Cassette, YZ 0002 C)
How Soon Is Now (Edited Version)/The Queen Is Dead/Handsome Devil (“Hatful Of Hollow” BBC Session Version)/I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish (CD1, YZ 0002 CD1)
I Know It’s Over/Suffer Little Children/Back To The Old House/How Soon Is Now (Original Mix) (CD2, YZ 0002 CD2)
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out/Handsome Devil (Live Manchester Hacienda 4.2.1983) (7”, YZ 0003)
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out/Handsome Devil (Live Manchester Hacienda 4.2.1983) (Cassette, YZ 0003 C)
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out/Hand In Glove (Live London Brixton Ace 29.6.1983)/Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others (Brixton Academy 12.12.1986)/Money Changes Everything (CD1, YZ 0003 CD1)
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out/Hand In Glove (Sandie Shaw Vocal)/I Don’t Owe You Anything (Sandie Shaw Vocal)/Jeane (Sandie Shaw Vocal) (CD2, YZ 0003 CD2)
Ask (Album Mix)/Cemetry Gates (7”, YZ 0004)
Ask (Album Mix)/Cemetry Gates (Cassette, YZ 0004 C)
Ask (Album Mix)/Cemetry Gates/Golden Lights (CD, YZ 0004 CDX)
Best (CD, 4509 90327-2, includes “This Charming Man (Manchester)”)
Best 2 (CD, 4509 90406-2)
Singles (CD, 4509 99090-2)
The Very Best Of (CD, 8573 88948 2), includes 7” mixes of “Ask” and “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”)
As regards the “missing” rarities from after the band’s split, “The Very Best Of” provides a home for two single mixes, but the lack of any new rarities set during this period meant that some of the rarer B-sides were now getting even rarer.
In 2008, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of “Hand In Glove”, WEA in conjunction with Morrissey and Marr released what was designed to be the definitive Smiths “Hits” set, “The Sound Of The Smiths”. The 18 tracks from the “Singles” set appeared with five more songs, although the mixes of the 18 singles differed - the single version of “Hand In Glove” was used here instead of the album mix used on “Singles”. The CD also included the edited version of “Barbarism Begins At Home”, but for “What Difference Does It Make”, the Peel Session version from “Hatful Of Hollow” was used instead. Similarly, the version of “How Soon Is Now” included was the fairly common unedited version, rather than the 7” edit.
A deluxe edition version was also released - this came in a different sleeve and had a second disc full of rarities. This disc tried to paint an alternative history of the band, from 1983 to 1988, rather than trying to be a completists dream - so you get one out of the two “This Charming Man” 12” b-sides, one (but not both) of the New York mixes of the same single, and a lot of B-sides already on “Hatful Of Hollow” and “The World Won’t Listen”. What you didn’t get was a lot of the latter period B-sides, but at least the inclusion of “Jeane” and the Hacienda version of “Handsome Devil” showed somebody’s heart was in the right place.
At the same time, 10 selected Smiths 45s were reissued on 7”. Again, the choice of singles tended to veer towards the big hits released before the final LP, which meant in many cases, the A and B sides were songs already available on existing compilations. To try and entice collectors, “Hand In Glove” was issued in it’s “negative” sleeve this time around. A box set was also issued which included two bonus singles - “Still Ill” and “The Headmaster Ritual”. “Still Ill” had at one point been considered as an A-side, and was released as a white label promo 7" before the release was pulled - it’s a reprint of this promo that appears in the box. “The Headmaster Ritual” 7” was based around the original “Europe-only” release in 1985, with “Oscillate Wildly” on the flip, and a different sleeve to that which was used when the single was released in the UK three years later - this edition came in the “Cowboy” sleeve that was used for the 1985 Dutch 12". This pressing of "The Headmaster Ritual" was later released in it's own right in 2009 as part of "Record Store Day" - an annual event to try to promote the independent record shop, but which has instead become an excuse for people who hate music to buy limited edition singles to sell on Ebay the same day. Suffice to say, Ebay is overflowing with "Headmaster Ritual" reissues at present.
It’s worth pointing out that if you already had all of the Smiths singles from the UK, then the box set might be deemed to be a bit pointless. If you simply fancy owning “Still Ill” or “The Headmaster Ritual”, you could do worse than to try to track down the German only “Still Ill” 12” from 1984 (which used the same cover as “Hand In Glove”) or the Dutch 7” for “The Headmaster Ritual”, which came in an un-Smiths like “pop art” sleeve, and which has been known to sell on the collectors market at a reasonable price. “Still Ill” can sometimes command a hefty price, so it really depends on how much you wish to pay, and what sleeves you want your singles in.
In 2009, without much warning, a CD edition of the box set was issued, which in my view, did a better job of compiling the band’s singles. 12 CD’s were included, but this time around, different singles (at times) were chosen. Wherever possible, the CD was based around the original 12”, but in some cases, with extra tracks. So, “This Charming Man” included all four tracks from the original 12”, with “Jeane” as a bonus, whilst the “New York” Remix 12” was also issued as a separate CD. The big selling point was the inclusion of the “Barbarism Begins At Home” CD, and the five track “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”, but brownie points were lost by including the album mix of “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” on CD11, along with the “edited” versions of “Asleep” and “Rubber Ring” on the same disc.
Listed below are the releases from the 2008/09 reissue campaign. As regards the 2008 7” pressings, in the interest of completeness, I have listed all of the ten singles that were issued separately for individual sale, but you will note that some of these do not appear in the “original releases” discography listed towards the start of this article - in other words, some of these singles might be of worth to “completists” only. It really is a case of “mix and match” - “How Soon Is Now” is worth getting for it’s edited A-side, but I wouldn’t bother with “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” - although if you do track down the Dutch “Headmaster Ritual” 12”, that will give you all the live tracks that appeared on the “Joke” 12” in the UK, so it won’t matter if you do just get the 7“, etc, etc, etc. You pays your money and you take your choice, as they say…
Hand In Glove (7” Mix)/Handsome Devil (Live Manchester Hacienda 4.2.1983) (7”, RHN 131, “negative” p/s)
This Charming Man (Manchester)/Jeane (7”, RHN 136)
What Difference Does It Make? (7” Edit)/Back To The Old House (7”, RHN 146)
Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now/Suffer Little Children (7”, RHN 156)
William It Was Really Nothing/Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (7”, RHN 166)
How Soon Is Now (Edited Version)/Well I Wonder (7”, RHN 176)
Shakespeare’s Sister/What She Said (7”, RHN 181)
That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore (Edit)/Meat Is Murder (Live In Oxford) (7”, RHN 186)
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (Single Mix)/Asleep (7”, RHN 191)
Bigmouth Strikes Again/Money Changes Everything (7”, RHN 192)
Singles Box Set (12 x 7”, includes above 10 singles plus “Still Ill” and “The Headmaster Ritual”, 2564-69320-7)
Singles Box Set (12 x CD, includes “Hand In Glove”, “This Charming Man”, “This Charming Man (New York)”, “What Difference Does It Make?”, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”, “William It Was Really Nothing”, “How Soon Is Now”, “Shakespeare’s Sister” (with alternate version of “Stretch Out And Wait”), “Barbarism Begins At Home”, “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”, “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” and “Bigmouth Strikes Again“, 2564-68921-7)
The Sound Of The Smiths (CD, includes edited mix of “Barbarism Begins At Home” and previously unissued version of “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby”, 2564-69370-9)
The Sound Of The Smiths (2 x CD, as above, plus second disc including “Handsome Devil (Live Manchester Hacidenda 4.2.1983)”, “Jeane”, “This Charming Man (New York Vocal)”, “Pretty Girls Make Graves (Troy Tate Version)” and “What’s The World”, 2564-69371-7)
So, despite all this, there still seem to be some “missing” rarities from the original singles. Certain b-sides have been issued on subsequent singles (such as “Wonderful Woman”) but not on an LP or CD-Album, and some B-sides have made it onto CD but not onto a compilation LP (the “Live In Oxford” version of “Shakespeare’s Sister”, only available in a boxset). And then there are those tracks that seem to have been lost for over two decades now - such as “Work Is A Four Letter Word”, or the Peel Session tracks from the “Last Night I Dreamt…” CD. I did hear a rumour that expanded editions of all the studio albums was being planned, but as I type this, there’s no sign of them. “Reissue! Repackage! Repackage!” Morrissey famously scowled on 1987’s “Paint A Vulgar Picture” - perhaps with the 2008/09 releases, he has now finally decided to follow his own advice.
Passions Just Like Mine: http://www.passionsjustlikemine.com/smiths-d.htm
The Smiths Complete Recordings: http://www.rockfiles.co.uk/TheSmiths_files/Smiths1.html
Wikipedia Discography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Smiths_discography