When The Smiths Were Fronted by a 1960s-era Female Pop Star

For a brief moment in 1984 The Smiths were performing on BBC music programs without the crooning vocals of Morrissey, but instead featuring the singing talents of 1960’s era popstar Sandie Shaw.

Shaw, one of the most popular British vocalists of her era, is best known for her #1 hit rendition of (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me, and the 1967’s winning Eurovision song entry Puppet on a String.

Morrissey and Marr having the strong desire to be recognized professionally as great songwriters not unlike Burt Bacharach and Hal David who wrote Shaw’s first hit, began writing her letters asking if she would cover their song I Don’t Owe You Anything, which they had written and composed in the hopes that Shaw would agree to perform it.

Shaw was initially reluctant to accept the offer being averse to the controversy surrounding The Smith’s track Reel Around the Fountain.

Despite this, Morrissey and Marr persisted in trying to recruit Shaw to perform their music, and Shaw was eventually won over by Morrissey’s praise of her in the press by the intervention of Rough Trade label founder Geoff Travis.

“he’s started sending me pictures of naked men with their bums showing!”

One of songs Morrissey sent to Shaw was The Smith’s debut single Hand In Glove, which reportedly caused her to exclaimed to her husband “he’s started sending me pictures of naked men with their bums showing!.

Shaw and the Smiths would enter Matrix Studios in London in February of 1984, recording three Smiths songs with Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke.  From the session Hand In Glove was ultimately chosen as the A side for the collaboration with I Don’t Owe You Anything as the b-side, and the inclusion of the song Jeanne on the 12 inch.

Forgoing the nude posterior on the original, the Sandie Shaw version if Hand In Glove’s sleeve features a still image of Rita Tushingham from the movie A Taste of Honeyan adaptation of the play written by Shelagh Delaney, who appeared on the covers of the single Girlfriend In a Coma and the compilation album Louder Than Bombs.

In promotion of the single Shaw would join The Smiths on live on stage on several television programs such as Top Of The Pops where the band performed barefoot in homage to Shaw’s habit on doing so in the 60s.