01 May 2005

The Smiths - Jeane

Rough Trade
RT136
1983




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.

Go Thurston.

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

Jeane
The low-life has lost its appeal
And I'm tired of walking these streets
To a room with its cupboards bare
Jeane
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!]

12 comments:

rockers said...

merrick you are a star!
i dug out my 12" 'new york' remix 12" of 'this charming…' the other day – sounded great

Crawfish said...

I have 2 different versions of Billy Bragg covering this tune and they are great...but I have not heard the original! Any chance the link to Smiths mp3 will be restored?

merrick said...

Crawfish, yeah I love Billy Bragg's versions (especially the slower one on the Greetings To The New Brunette 12 inch).

If I restoed the smiths one to the blog I'd have to delete something else as I don't have a lot of server space. So, i just work through chronologically deleting the oldest first. Have you tried finding it on Soulseek? www.slsknet.org

Anonymous said...

The Smiths (minus Morrissey) did a cover of it too with Sandie Shaw shortly after This Charming Man came out. It was later rereleased on CD sometime in the mid '90s.

-Chris

merrick said...

Chris,

The Smiths did a single with Sandie Shaw in early 1984. I've got the 7 inch, Hand in Glove backed with I Don't Owe You Anything, and Jweane was the extra track on the 12 inch.

There was a slightly cringey Top of The Pops performance with the 3 Smiths behind her.

I just searched for it on YouTube and found it
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9S9AR9S3p0

along with a superior performance on Earsay that starts with an interview with Morrissey and Shaw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77UZCaMTP3A

After this Shaw did an album of contemporary intelligent songs. I remember being very impressed with her version of Lloyd Cole's Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken.

Marko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marko said...

Actually, there were a few bands that sounded somewhat like Smiths before them, most notably early Orange Juice and especially Monochrome Set. Just listen to Espresso, Puerto-Rican Fence Climber or Goodbye Joe from their first album The Strange Boutique, released in 1980.

Add to this that Goodbye Joe is about actor Joe d'Allesandro whose naked torso from Andy Warhol's movie "Flesh" will grace the cover of the Smiths' first album three years later....

Beeman said...

I have an original reel-to-reel master tape of this 7" and the 12" NY mix on the same tape. I have been wodering what to do with them - any ideas

Anonymous said...

beeman, you should bootleg it on vinyl and send one my way!

jeremy said...

any idea if the "slow" version from the greetings to the new brunette 12" is the same as the one collected on the "reaching to the converted" comp?

merrick said...

Jeremy, yes, it's the same version.

Anonymous said...

I never heard of this The Smith's song. Please send to me at cecelia.stevens@comcast.net.

Take Care,
Cecelia