10 Smiths singles that didn’t appear on a Smiths album
18 March 2022, 20:00
Morrissey and Marr were the masters of the one-off single. While a lot of their best 45s would appear on the accompanying LPs, some amazing tracks were standalone singles…
Shakespeare’s Sister (March 1985)
At just two minutes and nine seconds long, this single struggled to get radio airplay due to its brevity, but that didn't stop it getting to Number 26 in the UK charts. The title is taken from a feminist essay by writer Virginia Woolf and the lyric also tips its hat to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody: "No, mama let me go!"
This Charming Man (October 1983)
Hand In Glove was The Smith’s debut single, but the amazing opening riff from their second put them on the map. It was later added to reissues of the band’s debut album, but it stands on its own as an amazing single.
Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now (May 1984)
“In my life, why do I give valuable time / To people who don't care if I live or die?” With a title that borrowed from Sandie Shaw's Heaven Knows I'm Missing Him Now, this malcontent's anthem made it to Number 10 in the UK charts in 1984.
William It Was Really Nothing (August 1984)
A wry meditation on relationships and marriage, this song has been long rumoured to be addressed to Billy McKenzie, singer with The Associates. This Smiths single has to be one of the perfect 12" releases - the glittering A-side is paired with the monster tracks How Soon Is Now? and Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.
How Soon Is Now? (January 1985)
Originally appearing as the B-side to William It Was Really Nothing, the band thought the song was good enough to stand on its own as a single and was considered one of the stand-out tracks on the Hatful Of Hollow compilation. It was finally issued as a single in January 1985, but only appeared on US editions of the Meat Is Murder album, despite being recorded six months earlier.
Johnny Marr told Radio X's John Kennedy that How Soon Is Now? was a combination of different influences:
Panic (July 1986)
Inspired by the Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster in the Spring of 1986 and how the news of the tragedy sat alongside the trivial pop music of Radio 1, this song ironically made it to Number 11 in the charts thanks to plenty of airplay! It was released as a single a month after the seminal Queen Is Dead album.
Ask (October 1986)
A stop gap single between The Queen Is Dead and the next Smiths album (which wouldn't arrive until a year later), Ask features the late great Kirsty MacColl on backing vocals and is a tribute to shyness.
Shoplifters Of The World Unite (January 1987)
In the long periods between Smiths album releases, Morrissey and Marr kept fans engaged with these one-off singles. The band's final year of operation opened with this epic track, which pipped another song, You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby, to get the honour of an A-side. The flip features another two great late-period Smiths songs: the rollicking London and the more meditative Half A Person.
Sheila Take A Bow (April 1987)
This stirring single was - alongside Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - the highest charting Smiths single during the band's lifetime. They both made it to Number 10.
Sweet And Tender Hooligan (May 1995)
After The Smiths called it a day in the autumn of 1987, the reissues and Best Ofs started coming - especially when the band's label, Rough Trade, went bust in the early 1990s. This 1986 John Peel Session track was never recorded for a an official studio release, but the US label Sire took the radio version to promote their new compilartion Singles.