Nice title perhaps but not strictly true. There’s no hate for The Smiths second LP but more disdain. I’ve never fathomed why the majority of Smiths fans (and I’ve learned this over many years on a multitude of music forums), hold such love for it.
So I wanted to jot down my reasons and go through the compilation track by track.
Perhaps the first thing to mention in relation to it is my deficiency. As I’m on the autism spectrum, I don’t like change in any shape or form. So in music, it is natural for my ears to like only whatever it was that they heard first.
This means that I like very few cover versions of songs.
There are exceptions of course. Off the top of my head I can think of Everything But The Girl’s version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy In New York”.
Anyhow, on to Hatful Of Hollow.
The album kicks off with the single edit (as far as I’m aware) of William It Was Really Nothing. A great start and no complaints from me. It was the 7-inch version I had a copy of originally.
“What Difference Does It Make”
Here comes my first problem. Firstly, the song is in a higher key than the studio version. And while the guitars are more organic, to me they’re too heavy. Once I’ve treasured that original single and the, to me, bona fide version of Back To The Old House as its flip-side, there can be no substitute.
“These Things Take Time” featured on the 12-inch What Difference release and was included on Louder Than Bombs.
I do feel pleased that somewhat against the grain, I side with the David Jensen session track as my pick of the two but still it’s a close call.
“This Charming Man”
So I’m calling this one a draw! Without the intro, this alternative version is softer, mire jolly, I can understand its appeal, my go-to is always that New York mix.
One thing I think everyone can agree on is that line – “Why pamper life’s complexities when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat”.
Also a good upholstery reference later in That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore with “And on a cold weather seat, well, it finally struck me – I just might die with a smile on my face after all”.
“How Soon Is Now”
Originally the B-side of William, I soon bought the 12-inch of this which houses the marvellous “Well I Wonder”.
I’ve heard a few people say that they don’t care for How Soon Is Now because it’s quite different? Or was quite different at the time to what they were mainly doing.
I cite Wikipedia apropos Hand In Glove.
In addition, the original single version of “Hand in Glove” is included, not the remixed version that appears on The Smiths. It features a fade-intro and fade-out, louder bass, and vocals that sound very distant.
I can’t bear fade-ins generally and along with the distant vocals, I loathe this version with a passion!
Oh my, what were they thinking. This for me is the worst thing I’ve ever heard by them. That harmonica! Makes the song sound like a poor man’s Love Me Do. Just dreadful compared to the sublime debut album version.
No issues with Heaven Knows as it’s the bog standard studio-made single so on to one of Hatful’s real plus points.
“This Night Has Opened My Eyes”
Without another version to compare it to, all I can say is how magnificent this song is.
“You’ve Got Everything Now”
I can almost like this but it’s ever so slightly slower and for me lacks the drive and intensity of the original counterpart.
“Accept Yourself” / “Girl Afraid” / “Handsome Devil”
Just like with This Night, there are no challengers to these and you know what, I actually love all three songs very much. Thank heavens these are the only versions I’ve ever heard!
Regarding live albums I don’t care for Rank much at all but when I lived up in the north of England I can remember acquiring a couple of live Smiths bootleg cassettes from an open market outside of Bolton or somewhere and thought that they were rather good.
And thanks to something called the internet, I’ve managed to track both of them down, though I no longer have either of them.
“Back To The Old House”
So the original b-side of this made it into Louder Than Bombs and while I could just about listen to the much different version on Hatful there is only one winner here and by some distance!
“Reel Around The Fountain’
Dear me. This is like… it’s not The Smiths, it’s a different band.
I’ve heard people contend that this is actually more soulful!
Each to their own, I think this is a pile of tosh compared to the beautifully polished studio version and as Mrs. Slocombe would point out, I am unanimous in that!
The album ends with the quite pleasant Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want with its Parisian street vibe (you can imagine being in an outdoor cafe enjoying croissants while the song plays in ze background… yes, it’s fine, wouldn’t make my Smiths Top 20 songs if there were such a thing but good all the same.
To close, blog-writing is certainly healthy. I’ve learned that I haven’t ripped Hatful Of Hollow to shreds as I thought I might do.
It’s clear for any reader to understand that I have several bugbears that impair my overall enjoyment but I would struggle with ranking it as a 7/10… so I’ll stop at six and a half!