The Smiths’ Hand In Glove – 30 Years On

May 10, 2013 1:29 pm

It’s really quite strange to think that it has been thirty years since The Smiths rushed and pushed into the public consciousness. But here we are now, all these years later, with the impact that the band had still evident all around us – from the shiny chimes of indie rock guitars to the fashion of many alternative music fans and indie rock bands.

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the band’s debut single ‘Hand In Glove’, a track that simultaneously intrigued and shocked listeners with its ambiguous lyrics and fresh sound. And it was with this single that the band started something that would take the world by storm.


Morrisey himself has praised the track several times over the years

The song was written in early 1983 when the band had only played a handful of shows and they immediately identified it as their strongest work to date. Morrissey himself has praised the track several times over the years, considering it one of their most important tracks.

The band wasted no time in recording the track and did so the following month, in a recording session at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios, at the expense of their manager Joe Moss. Although the band recorded much of the track in one single session, Morrissey returned to the studio a week later to redo the vocals.

With the demo of the track complete, a hopeful Johnny Marr travelled to Rough Trade Records in London to personally give a copy to the label’s boss, Geoff Travis. Impressed by Marr’s confidence and the track itself, Travis showed an almost immediate interest in releasing the track as a single.

But the band weren’t short on ideas on how to make the release stand out even more. While the sound of The Smiths was distinctive enough, Morrissey chose artwork for the single that was also very distinctive. This artwork featured a photograph of a naked man, standing with his backside facing the camera.

This opened the gates in preparation for the cultural transformation that the band were about to start. The sound and the imagery became the band’s signature and were, and still are, instantly recognisable.

Sadly the track would become the band’s swan song as it was the final one they ever performed live (not including promotional television appearances), with the final line “I’ll probably never see you again” now infused with prophetic poignancy.

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