It’s exactly one year ago today that I started this madness, and, as I’m sure I’ve said before, it’s all because of London Lee. [If you’re reading this, mate, thanks! You’ve nearly caused a divorce!!-SIG]
I used to download soul records from his blog, and then, when he started Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop, I asked how he did his mp3 blogging. He answered and pointed me in the right direction…and here I am, one year on and still nowhere near my goal of posting every Festive Fifty track in the version played on the original programmes. The year has been full of highlights, including making lots of new friends (I daren’t list you all as some people get very upset if I forget them), discovering the 1977 Forgotten Fifty, downloading mountains of unheard Peel material from the Yahoo John Peel Group, and tearing my hair out over my own chart at Christmas. It’s been a great ride, and to celebrate a year in the business, the first of larger than usual posts featuring the big three bands that garnered more entries in the Festive Fifty than any other.
The Smiths had 11 entries in the 1987 chart, seven of them coming from Strangeways Here We Come, and all of those LP tracks are presented here today. Peel later stated that this gave him the only reason to celebrate their splitting up. No other band had more entries in any one year (the Fall came close in 1993 with ten), and was probably due to nostalgia: the band recorded the album in Wool Hall Studios, Bath, in March…Johnny Marr quit in August, precipitating the split…and the album, a nod to the (now renamed) Manchester prison, was released in September. It was somewhat experimental for them, with saxophone and string arrangements and drum machine patterns being used.
Strangeways perfects every lyrical and musical notion The Smiths have ever had. It isn’t dramatically, obsessively different in any way and I’m quite glad it isn’t because I’ve been happy with the structure we’ve had until now. It’s far and away the best record we’ve ever made. [Morrissey]
Archetypical misery and regret, the third track to be released as a single, reaching FF 1987 #5 and number 30 in the UK singles chart. Marr and Morrissey have both cited this as their favourite Smiths song.
The Hungerford Massacre prevented the release of this one (FF 1987 #12) as a single, since the BBC unsurprisingly did not want references to mass murder on the airwaves at that time. However, the band got round to making this video for it:
Two minutes and two seconds of heaven: one of their finest and most lyrical tracks (FF 1987 #15). It also nearly cracked the top 10 in England.
Moody and magnificent, a demonstration of how cheaply life can be held to be (FF 1987 #25).
A gentle close to the album, stoicism in the face of innumerable odds (FF 1987 #29). ‘Has the Perrier gone straight to my head?’ Brings a lump to my throat every time.
Ironically, the first post-split single….’typical me, typical me, typical me’ (FF 1987 #40).
I’ve always thought that people can generally listen to the records and understand how we as individuals feel about most things. It may be a cliche but I expect the records to speak for themselves. I’ll tell you what – have another listen and call me up if anything remains unclear. [Morrissey]