The Smiths “What Difference Does It Make?” 1984. 12″ single, Rough Trade Records. Though Morrissey and Johnny Marr have stated this single from The Smiths’ debut album is one of their least favorites, it’s one of my top Smiths songs; I love the propulsive beat, the urgency of the guitar and the choice lines of lyrics (i.e. “the devil will find work for idle hands to do, I stole and I lied and why? because you asked me to” and “your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight”). It became The Smiths first hit, making it to #12 in the UK. This is one of the later pressings of “What Difference Does It Make?” – a few early ones feature Morrissey holding a glass of milk as Terence Stamp initially denied permission for the still from the movie The Collector to be used (he obviously change his mind and most pressings have this photo as the cover).
Side B has “Back To the Old House,” a slow and lovely classic Smiths lament, and “These Things Take Time,” which is much more upbeat but super angsty, so perfect for teenage ears in the 80′s: “Oh, the alcoholic afternoons, When we sat in your room, They meant more to me than any, than any living thing on earth…Vivid and in your prime,You will leave me behind.”
Reblogging myself: The Smiths “What Difference Does It Make?” released on this date, January 16th, 1984.
Mudhoney “You Stupid Asshole” and Gas Huffer “Knife Manual” 1992. European import, Split 12” on Musical Tragedies and Empty Records. Spinning “You Stupid Asshole” – originally by the Angry Samoans (1980) – today as a certain major VIP is rallying in our city. I love both the original and Mudhoney’s slightly grunged-up version. Another fave is Gas Huffer’s “Knife Manual,” a cover of the Silly Killers’ 1982 punk single (their sole release). Also on this split single is Mudhoney’s “March to Fuzz,” which appears on an Estrus comp from 1991 (The 12 Drunkest Bands in Showbiz), and Gas Huffer’s “Firebug,” originally a single from 1989 and also on their 1991 LP Janitors of Tomorrow. We picked up this 12” in London this past summer at Flashback Records, I’m pretty sure the Islington location which was within walkable distance (a lengthy one) of our apartment. I usually remove pricetags from our crate digging scores but not this time.
U2 “New Year’s Day” 1983, 12″ single. Happy New Year, 2020! “New Year’s Day” was the lead single from U2′s third album War (released in February ‘83). It was U2′s first top 10 in England (it went to #2 in their native Ireland) as well as their first international hit, going to #53 in the US, #36 in Australia and #41 in Canada. This 12″ features the “Long Version” – which is just 4 seconds longer than the album version so it pretty much sounds exactly the same. Also included on the 12″ is another big U2 anthemic track, “Treasure (Whatever Happened to Pete the Chop)” plus live versions performed in Werchter, Belgium on July 4th, 1982: “Fire,” “I Threw a Brick Through a Window” (both from October) and “A Day Without Me” (from Boy).
Eurythmics “Love Is a Stranger” 1982. 12″ single. “Love Is a Stranger” was the third single from the band’s January 1983 album Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and it’s one of my all-time favorites from the synthpop/new wave duo. First released as a single in November ‘82, it did relatively poorly (it was their 5th single to date, hitting #54 in the UK. However, after the next single, the title track “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” hit #2 in the UK and #1 in the US (it was their first single released in America), they re-released “Love Is a Stranger” and it, too, became a hit going to #6 in the UK and to #23 in the US (#7 on the US Dance chart). The B-side of the 12″ has two tracks, “Let’s Just Close Our Eyes” which is hypnotic and super-danceable and “Monkey Monkey,” also hypnotic but more mostly just an instrumental track: experimental with lots of techno weirdness.
Depeche Mode “Shake the Disease” 1985, Mute Records. 12″ single, special edition, UK import. This past weekend the subject of Depeche Mode came up with an old friend who shares a mutual enthusiasm for the band and who is currently re-collecting the band’s catalog on vinyl. I commented how grateful I was that I’ve pretty much hung onto all of my records since I started buying them in the 80′s. This 12″ extended version of “Shake the Disease (Edit the Shake)” is one i’m still very fond of: I purchased this soon after its release in 1985 while on a visit to Los Angeles. While there I heard “Shake the Disease” on KROQ and was thrilled to be hearing the new Depeche Mode single before my friends back in the Midwest – radio stations in small-market Wisconsin cities did not play such dark gothy synthpop in the 80′s.
“Shake the Disease” was Depeche Mode’s 13th single, a stand-alone that DM would include on their 1985 comp album The Singles 81-85 (UK) and Catching Up with Depeche Mode (US). It went to #18 in the UK and into the Hot Dance Club chart top 40 in the US. It’s super-dark, melodically minor: a great bridge from the moving-darker synthpop of Some Great Reward (1984) to the industrial goth Black Celebration (1986). “Alan Wilder felt this song captured the essence of the band, saying that ‘there’s a certain edge to what we do that can make people think twice about things. If we’ve got a choice between calling a song ‘Understand Me’ or ‘Shake the Disease’, we’ll call it ‘Shake the Disease’. There’s a lot of perversity and innuendo in our lyrics, but nothing direct.’" (DM website/Wiki)
Morrissey “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” released 30 years ago today, November 13th, 1989. Released as a stand-alone single (it would appear on the comp Bona Drag in 1990), Morrissey’s fifth single as a solo artist was his first not to hit the top 10 in the UK, going to #18. And honestly, it’s not a great song – I picked up this 12″ single mainly for the cover and the cheap price when in London this past summer (at Flashback Records, I think in Islington). The video is weird as hell, though, crystal balls, a spirit manifesting on a fridge in the middle of the woods, a lot of dizzying camera work on Morrissey laying in a pile of leaves, etc. (it was ranked by Pulp magazine as the most “tweaked” music video of all-time). The b-side to the 12″ has “Yes, I am Blind” (a collaboration with the Smiths’ Andy Rourke) and “East West,” which is a cover of a song originally performed by Herman’s Hermits. I’m not much more of a fan of these tracks, either, though of the bunch “Yes, I am Blind” is the best, with a lovely little acoustic guitar riff and some real emotion behind the lyrics.
Duran Duran “Save a Prayer” 1982. I’m spinning the most perfect 80′s new wave/synthpop ballad today for Simon Le Bon’s 61st birthday (b. Oct. 27th, 1958). Released in the UK as their third single from Rio (it wouldn’t be released in the US until ‘85), “Save a Prayer” was a massive hit, going to #2, their biggest hit to that date. In ‘85 it went to #16 in the US, though American audiences had a ton of exposure to the track before then as it had heavy rotation on MTV. The video is gorgeous, shot in Sri Lanka, and I vaguely remember reading or hearing an interview with one of the other band members – maybe Roger? – lamenting that Simon always got to dance with the pretty girls in Duran Duran videos. Side B of this 12″ has “Hold Back the Rain (remix),” the regular version of which is also on Rio.
Bauhaus “Ziggy Stardust” released October, 1982. 12″ single on Beggar’s Banquet. The masters of goth’s 8th single was a tribute to the master of glam – they were huge Bowie fans – and is close to perfection; it went to #15 on the UK singles chart. According to Far Out Magazine the video for “Ziggy Stardust” was shot in the catacombs of Camden Market (actually just a series of tunnels but that’s what the locals call them) and features a full mock-gig set up with complete backline and riotous fans. It would act as a catapult for the band, eventually landing them a spot on the acclaimed show Top of the Pops. Fittingly, I picked up this 12″ in Camden a couple of months ago (or maybe it was in Islington, possibly SoHo. I can’t remember). Also on this 12″ is a Bauhaus original, “Party of the First Part” which is really weird and seriously creepy (perfect for Halloween season), a swinging little number with dialogue from the cartoon The Devil and Daniel Mouhaus. Side B has the Brian Eno-penned track “Third Uncle” that is Peter Murphy’d and Daniel Ash’d up (dark and slinky vocals, a sinister screaming, vaguely industrial guitar; it also appears on Bauhaus’ 1982 LP The Sky’s Gone Out) and a fairly rough live cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man,” recorded in October 1981 at Fagin’s in Manchester. Nico herself joined Bauhaus on stage for the song. Southern Death Cult (later, just The Cult) was the supporting act and Ian Astbury said about the scene, “Nico just ended up in Manchester on heroin. Southern Death Cult supported Bauhaus at Salford University when she did ‘Waiting for the Man’ with them, and Pete Murphy had to hold her up, she was so smacked out!” And Peter Murphy stated, “Nico was gothic, but she was Mary Shelley gothic to everyone else’s Hammer horror film gothic. They both did Frankenstein, but Nico’s was real.” (from dangerousminds)
Echo & The Bunnymen “People Are Strange” from The Lost Boys soundtrack, 1987. 12″ single, UK import, 1988/1991 release. “People Are Strange” is, of course, a Doors cover that Echo & The Bunnymen recreated rather faithfully (and Ray Manzarek produced) for the opening sequence to one of my favorite 80′s movies. (Back in the day rumor had it that one of the punks filmed on the Santa Cruz streets was one of our friends who had run away to California, but I’ve never been able to spot him in any of the scenes). The B-side has three more covers, recorded live, that are slightly less faithful to their originals though still quite respectful, all great and Echo’d up: “Paint It Black” (Rolling Stones), “Run, Run, Run” (Velvet Underground) and “Friction” (Television). That last song in particular is notable because I’m not a big Television fan but Echo & The Bunnymen’s cover is hard-driving (well, to be fair, the original is as well), melodic and a bit Talking Head-ish with notes of neo-psychedelia thrown in. These three tracks, along with “People Are Strange” also appear on Echo & The Bunnymen’s 1988 EP New Live and Rare; the live songs were recorded in Sweden for a radio show in April 1985.
Depeche Mode “Everything Counts and Live Tracks” 1983. Vogue Records/Mute Records, French import mini album. Today, August 22nd, is the release anniversary of Depeche Mode’s third album Construction Time Again (1983) and “Everything Counts” was the lead single, hitting #6 in the UK and #17 on the US Hot Dance chart. Side A, or the Studio Side, has two versions of “Everything Counts” – the 7″ original single mix and the 12″ single mix. The B-side, or the Live Side, has four live tracks (recorded at Hammersmith Odeon in October ‘82) including two Vince Clarke songs, one of my absolute favorites, “New Life,” as well as “Boys Say Go!” – both from their 1981 debut LP Speak and Spell. Also appearing are live versions of the Martin Gore-penned “Nothing to Fear” and “The Meaning of Love,” both from Depeche Mode’s 1982 album A Broken Frame. I left the price tag on the Mini Album because this is an acquisition from my friend Jason who bought it and literally imported it from France in early ‘86.