Today is the 30th anniversary of the release of The Smiths’ first single, the enduringly excellent “Hand in Glove.” The song failed to chart — but it was later covered, curiously enough, by British pop singer Sandie Shaw, whose version reached #27 in the UK charts and helped a great deal in introducing the general public to the band. The idea of female singers covering the Smiths and/or Morrissey is interesting, simply because their songs are so quintessentially male in their own effete way. And so, in a repeat of the thought exercise we carried out with Leonard Cohen a few weeks back, we’ve rounded up a selection of Smiths covers (with the occasional Morrissey song for good measure) by female artists — including one particularly amazing track by Tiffany, of all people.
Tiffany — ”Panic”
Wait, what? Did anyone else know that this existed? It’s amazing! It appears that Tiffany recorded “Panic” in 2007 for this compilation, but information is hard to come by. Whatever its provenance, the spectacle of Tiffany singing the Smiths over a weird, dystopian, Blade Runner-esque backing track is all kinds of awesome.
Everything But the Girl — ”Back to the Old House”
From the (gloriously) ridiculous to the sublime: Tracey Thorn’s mournful voice is a perfect fit to cover Morrissey’s, um, mournful songs, and this stripped-down acoustic cover of “Back to the Old House” works a treat, so much so that we almost prefer it to the original. It evokes the feeling of going back to an old seaside hometown where there’s nothing left for you any more. The sort of town, in fact, that’s evoked in…
10,000 Maniacs — ”Every Day Is Like Sunday”
This cover plays it pretty straight, Xeroxing the jangly melancholy of Morrissey’s second solo single and (arguably) his greatest post-Smiths moment. Still, if a song is this perfect, it’s probably best not to mess with it too much, eh?
Kirsty MacColl — ”You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby”
The late and much-lamented Kirsty MacColl released this characteristically bold cover of “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby” as the b-side to her single “Free World,” and it later surfaced on the soundtrack to middle-ranking John Hughes romcom She’s Having a Baby.
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