If The Smiths had settled with the first recording of their breakthrough single ‘This Charming Man‘, would the world, and especially the music industry, be the same as it is now? Would the song still have launched their careers?
If you have heard the original version of the song, which is on the 1984 album Hatful of Hollow, you will agree that it is very different to the version that was released as a single, the version that everybody knows.
Here’s a sample, taken from the ‘London session’, which ended up on Hatful of Hollow.
The story goes that after recording this version in London, the band went back up to their native Manchester and decided to do it again, differently, because they weren’t happy.
And this was the end product of the ‘Manchester session’.
Although the words are the same, these are two radically different songs.
Firstly and most obviously, the guitar is much lighter and not played with much zeal in the first recording (which we shall call L).
In the second recording (known from here as M), Morrissey is much more energetic, the words are sharp and strong, compared to flowing and airy in L.
The whooping ‘Aaahhhh’ before ‘a jumped up pantry boy’ is missing in L, although it definitely would have been out of place, is one of the makers of the song for me and I’m glad it was included in M.
The bass in M is strong and loud and it guides the track, instead of Marr leading with his guitar which is a nice touch, makes it that bit more adventurous and sharp.
To summise, would the world have been a different place without the re-recording of This Charming Man?
Yes, yes it would be and music would not be the same.