Friday, 4 January 2013

Clandestine Classic XXXII - Slow Emotion Replay

Slow Emotion ReplayThe thirty-second post in an occasional series that is intended to highlight songs that you might not have heard that I think are excellent - clandestine classics, if you will. Maybe they'll be by bands you've never heard of. Maybe they'll be by more familiar artists, but tracks that were squirelled away on b-sides, unpopular albums, radio sessions or music magazine cover-mounted CDs. Time will, undoubtedly, tell.

Lots of people whose musical taste I identified with in the 1980s and '90s raved about The The but I just never got it. Matt Johnson is a genius, they would say, and I would nod sagely. I never tapped my foot though. I never sway-danced like the shy indie boy I was either, however much Matt's genius was played in the back room at The Penny Theatre. In short, The The left me unmoved. Even The Beat(en) Generation, their chart-troubling commercial highpoint, passed me by. So how come I ended up with today's clandestine classic in my collection? Let's put that down to the Marr effect... and Woolies.

Let me explain. In 1988 a certain Johnny Marr joined The The for the Mind Bomb album. Much as I love Mr Marr in 1988 I just wasn't interested unless Steven Patrick was crooning over Johnny's tunesmithery. And the same would have been true of tracks from the 1993 album Dusk, on which Johnny also collaborated with Matt, except that one day, whilst rooting through the bargain bin in Woolworths I stumbled across a CD single of Slow Emotion Replay, for the princely sum of 99p. What the hell, I thought. What's the worst that could happen?

As it turns out, I'd landed myself a bargain slice of classic Marr, as instantly identifiable as anything The Smiths recorded, as obviously Marr-related as Billy Bragg's Sexuality or Kite-era Kirsty MacColl. All the trademarks are there: the chiming guitar sound, the chord progressions, the harmonica riff... quintessential Marr. In fact, I was so enamoured with this track that it figured on nearly every mix tape I made for at least eighteen months, and I still play it now. Surprising, then, that it's taken until now, the 32nd in the series, for this to feature as a clandestine classic.

I suppose I ought to eulogise about Matt Johnson too. After all, he's a genius, right? So, okay, the lyrics are interesting and he sings them well enough. But overall I just never really got into him, sorry, in much the same way that I've never been able to get into Nick Cave, despite repeated attempts. These artists are just blind spots for me - again, sorry. But Marr... I'm still blinded, by only by his genius. I'm going to see him live in March and am quite excited about this...

Anyway, Slow Emotion Replay dipped into the UK chart very briefly at a lowly #35, and just as quickly dipped out again, hence its presence in the Woolies bargain bin. Matt Johnson's loss, my gain. It remains the only The The record in my collection, but what a corker! If you're looking you can still find it on the aforementioned Dusk or the compilation 45rpm - The Singles of The The. Beyond that, here's today classic, courtesy of YouTube. You may have to sit through a bit of promotional film first though. Anyway, enjoy.


  1. Thank you. You just forced me to spend £2.91 on eBay. Although, to be fair, I should have done that ages ago. (Still try putting 'The The' into eBay and see where it gets you!)

    1. Thanks Rol - finally someone has bought a record on the back of a clandestine classic! My work here is done.

  2. The Man Of Cheese3 April 2013 at 12:55

    Another belter Breadman. Great song - would never have remembered who sang it sans blog. Now that I'm starting my digital music library from scratch, like Rol I feel a £2.91 investment coming on...

    1. Cheers ears. Quality use of sans, by the way.