Various Artists: NME Readers’ Poll Winners ’84


NME 1985.  GIV1


Back in the 80s, British music papers sometimes gave away 7″ singles.  They often included exclusive tracks by interesting artists and at a time when music was expensive to buy and I was broke, I was pleased to have them.  The downside was that they always played at 33, had way too much music crammed onto them and so sounded terrible.  However, for dull technical reasons, my vinyl rig is particularly good at extracting what little sound quality there is on these discs, so I’ve been ripping some of them over the last few days.

This one is of particular interest because it includes an exclusive Smiths track from a show they did in Oxford.  Most of that gig has appeared in various places in decent sound quality, but this track only ever appeared on this single.  The whole gig is crying out to be issued as an official live album, but there’s no sign of that happening, so right now, this is as good as you’ll get.  There’s also a nice Cocteau Twins track – a re-recording of Ivo, a Bronski Beat track which I rather like, and finally U2 which is not my thing at all.

The sound quality isn’t great and it crackles a bit, but it’s listenable and worth it for the rarity of the material on it.


Act: I Can’t Escape From You (Compacted)


ZTT Records, 1988.  CDIMM2


A nice slab of 80s synthpop today. Act were a short lived collaboration between Claudia Brücken of Propaganda and Thomas Leer. I bought this for the interesting cover of The Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now but the rest of the disc is worth a listen.

The single is very much of it’s time and classic ZTT to boot.  Overblown and dated or classy, intelligent synthpop?  You choose.   Brücken is a great singer whatever you think of the production and her jazz inflected interpretation of The Smiths is wonderful.

This is ripped from the rare CD version of the single which has more tracks.  They were all re-issued in 2004 as part of a lavish triple boxed set which is now even rarer than this original single.

There’s not much in the way of further listening apart from Act’s only album, Laughter Tears And Rage which seems to be easy to get hold of.


Morrissey and The Durutti Column: I Know Very Well How I Got My Note Wrong


A very peculiar release, this one.  It came free with the first UK pressing of The Durutti Column’s 1989 album Vini Reilly, both on a 3″ CD and 7″ vinyl.

The Vincent Gerard and Steven Patrick on the cover are of course Vini Reilly and Morrissey, and the single track is an out-take from Morrissey’s first solo album, Viva Hate.  The single track, I Know Very Well How I Got My Note Wrong is a version of the Morrissey track I Know Very Well How I got My Name which appeared not on Viva Hate but on his first single Suedehead.

The track itself is beautiful.  As a song it’s a highlight of Morrissey’s solo career and Vini Reilly’s guitar work is, as always, amazing.   It lasts for around 90 seconds before Reilly hits a bum note and both laugh.  It’s a shame the track was never completed in this form; it works much better than the Suedehead version.

Vini Reilly has fallen on hard times lately.  He’s always suffered from poor health which has deteriorated with age, and he’s fallen victim to the gross injustices of the UK’s disability living allowance system.  It reached a point where he was in danger of losing his home, but fortunately (inaccurate) publicity around his plight prompted fans to step in and donate money to clear his debts.  As The Guardian pointed out at the time, that a musician as important to Britain’s musical heritage as this should be reduced to such a state shows how little art is valued.  More details of this story are on Reilly’s web site.

If you want to listen to more Durutti Column music, and you should, of course Vini Reilly is the obvious companion to this post and is a favourite of mine.  It’s available in an expanded double format (although without the track presented here) from his web site. The usual recommended starting point though for his work is 1982’s LC, and absolute classic which everyone should own. However, like much of Reilly’s sprawling and neglected back catalogue, it’s out of print. It’s not hard to find second hand copies from the usual places.

Morrissey? Well the completed version of I Know Very Well is most easily found on the remarkably cheap triple HMV Singles compilation, and Viva Hate is widely available.  Of course his best work was with The Smiths, whose work is now much more appealing since the Johnny Marr approved re-issues superceded the appalling sounding WEA versions.