Before I get started on this wonderful lost Smiths gem, let me nudge you towards an article. Thurston Moore's written this piece about how cool mix tapes are. The bit relevant to us here is his conclusion;
Once again, we're being told that home taping (in the form of ripping and burning) is killing music. But it's not: It simply exists as a nod to the true love and ego involved in sharing music with friends and lovers. Trying to control music sharing - by shutting down P2P sites or MP3 blogs or BitTorrent or whatever other technology comes along - is like trying to control an affair of the heart. Nothing will stop it.
So then. It's 1983 and the Smiths release their second single, This Charming Man. The Smiths were a total bolt from the blue. The music was intelligent, melodic, mature yet swimming in youthful vigour and intent. The lyrics were not only so wry and literate, but depicted angles and situations not normally the preserve of pop writers. They were also one of the few bands who you had no idea what music they listened to at home. What the hell were their influences?
On top of this, they were one of those bands who clearly loved records as artefacts and were determined to give people something of real worth. A serious proportion of their singles weren't lifted from albums, and they came with B-sides and extra tracks that were not only exclusive to the singles, but were frankly as good as the A-sides.
Such a prolific output led to several compilations sweeping up those non-album tracks (Hatful of Hollow, Louder Than Bombs, The World Won't Listen), yet somehow Jeane slipped through the net and appears never to have been issued anywhere but on the B-side of the This Charming Man 7 inch.
A powerful urgent stomper of a track, the lyric has a lover finally conceding the truth to their partner, that their affair is over and their shared home now seems shabby and squalid. The angle, and the chosen details that describe it, were thoroughly arresting for me as an adolescent so used to that Stylistics attitude of 'I'm only poor but we have each other, I find my happiness when I look in your eyes' sort of stuff.
Jeane says precisely the opposite
The low-life has lost its appeal
And I'm tired of walking these streets
To a room with its cupboards bare
I'm not sure what happiness means
But I look in your eyes
And I know that it isn't there
Those words set against the pounding music, draped with Morrissey's falsetto; it was utterly captivating, proof that This Charming Man wasn't a fluke and this band could deliver us great things.
[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones. Sorry!]