On 13 May 1983, The Smiths released Hand In Glove on 7″ vinyl – the band’s first record. Only 6000 copies were pressed initially, and they sold out pretty quickly as The Smiths grew in popularity. The purpose of this post is to provide details of the first pressing, known as the Manchester version – because a Manchester contact address was printed on the back of the cover. Later versions published a London contact address, or no contact details at all.
Details of reissues, remixes and other variants appear in numerous catalogues – see, for example www.passionsjustlikemine.com, www.rockfiles.co.uk, and www.discogs.com. One of the most sought-after is a version with a misprinted negative of the original sleeve. Only 25 copies of the misprint are rumoured to have survived, after the rest were destroyed. They are rare as hens teeth, but occasionally one comes onto the market.
Hand In Glove was written by Morrissey and Marr in January 1983, between The Smiths second and third gigs, and recorded in one day at Strawberry Studios in Stockport a few weeks later. The Smiths manager, Joe Moss, funded the recording at a cost of £250. The band produced the session themselves. Morrisey was unhappy with his performance, however, so Moss funded another session a week later to enable Morrissey to re-record his vocal. Morrissey and Marr then ventured to London to present themselves, with Hand In Glove, to Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Most sources report that the first recording session took place in the last week of February 1983. So the March date printed on the back of the single’s cover must relate to the re-recording of the vocal by Morrissey.
Hand In Glove begins unconventionally. The music fades in, building with intensity until it charges at you with harmonica wailing like an advancing train. I was twenty when Hand In Glove hit the airwaves and record shops. The moment I heard it, I was hooked on The Smiths.
Reflecting on the song in an interview for the Daily Mail, 2013, Johnny Marr said:
The words sound like the music, and the music sounds like the words – it’s a beautiful thing.
In Mozipedia: The Encyclopaedia of Morrissey and the Smiths, Simon Goddard quotes Morrissey as saying:
I think the record is so absolutely perfect in every respect that if it just dribbles away I shall be ill, probably for ever.
The single reached number 3 in the UK Indie Chart, but failed to enter the UK Singles Chart, peaking at 124.
In an issue of Jamming (May 1984), Morrissey lamented:
The only tragedy for The Smiths has been that ‘Hand In Glove’ didn’t get the attention it deserved.
The great George “Porky” Peckham engineered the master discs from which the A and B sides were pressed. Hence, the runouts are hand-etched with his signature messages. Side A: “A PORKY PRIME CUT”. Side B: “PORKY”. Morrissey added “KISS MY SHADES” to Side A, and Marr added “KISS MY SHADES TOO” to Side B. “Kiss my shades” is a line from the title track.
Morrissey’s lyrics reference the works of playwright Shelagh Delaney. The line “I’ll probably never see you again” appears in Delaney’s A Taste of Honey and The Lion in Love. Morrissey also paraphrased Leonard Cohen’s line “Everything depends upon how near you sleep to me” from the song Take This Longing, to create “Everything depends upon how near you stand to me.”
The single’s cover image was taken from Margaret Walters’ 1978 book “The Nude Male”. It features a photograph of a model, believed to be George O’Mara, taken by Jim French at an hotel in San Francisco. What appears to be a mole or birthmark on O’Mara’s shoulder is in fact a stain on the image used to create the cover. It isn’t visible in the original photograph in Walters’ book.
The Smiths first album, released in 1984 and produced by John Porter, includes a remix of Hand In Glove. Unlike the version released on 7″, the track kicks straight in without any fade. The remix offers more clarity and greater separation between vocals and instruments, but lacks the grit, earthiness and garage feel of the original. In his autobiography, Morrissey is scathing of the later version:
…John’s remix of our glorious Hand In Glove finally proves that he does not vaguely understand the rival gang spirit of the original recorded track.
For whatever reason, I never bought Hand In Glove when it was released as a single. I got the remixed version when it came out on the first album, and later the original mix when released on the compilation Hatful Of Hollow. Earlier this week, over thirty years after its release, I rectified my mistake and acquired a copy of the very first pressing in near mint condition – which meant parting with a moderately substantial sum. It is worth every penny I paid for it.
The Smiths final gig was at London’s Brixton Academy on the 12 December 1986. Their last song: Hand In Glove.
Back of cover
JOHNNY MARR guitars & harmonica
MIKE JOYCE the drums
ANDY ROURKE the bass guitar
“HAND IN GLOVE”
Recorded at Strawberry Studios March 83
Recorded live at The Hacienda Manchester 83
All words by Morrissey
All music by Johnny Marr
Produced by The Smiths
Photography by Jim French
Endless Gratitude to Joe and Janet
Sleeve by The Smiths
70, Portland St, Manchester M3, 061-236 8167
Distributed by The Cartel – IDS
Paper label is blue with silver lettering
Rough Trade logo centred top
Publishers: Glad Hips Music
Side A (hand-etched): RT 131 A1 KISS MY SHADES A PORKY PRIME CUT
Side B (hand-etched): RT 131 B1 KISS MY SHADES TOO PORKY