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The Smiths -- This Charming Man (Studio, TOTP)

This Charming Man (TOTP, 1983)

The Smiths were an English alternative rock band, formed in Manchester in 1982. Based on the song writing partnership of Morrissey (vocals) and Johnny Marr (guitar), the band also included Andy Rourke (bass) and Mike Joyce (drums). Critics have called them the most important alternative rock band to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s ... (read more at Wikipedia)

Links to Peel

The Smiths were first brought to the attention of Peel by producer John Walters, who saw them at a gig at London University in 1983. A first session was quickly booked and proved hugely popular with listeners, the first sign of the massive impact the band would have on the show in the middle part of the decade.

After the Smiths broke up, 11 of the 14 tracks on their final LP appeared in the 1987 Festive Fifty. Although Peel seemed to think this was perhaps going a little too far, the DJ later selected debut LP 'The Smiths' as one of his Top 20 Albums and 'Reel Around The Fountain' as one of his four choices for the 1984 Peelenium.

In 1987, Peel and Walters discussed the band in the fifth programme of the documentary series Peeling Back The Years:

JW: You had them on very early on, May 1983, before they had a record out, after I think they first came from Manchester and appeared in London. Again, looking back to that Manchester gloom, the weather in Manchester – there’s always been that melancholy solitude feeling.
JP: Yes.
JW: A whimsical and rather ironic, witty approach to solitude in Morrissey’s stuff. Would you say, well, “Morrissey, I suppose he is my sort of chap”?
JP: Well, I would like to think he was, yes. Obviously I’ve only met him a couple of times. And I think you actually deserve some credit, because it was you that went out and heard the Smiths. It was one of the very few times that you’ve come back very enthusiastic about a band and said, “We really must get these people in at the earliest opportunity.” So I always try and give you credit for that to people for that. That’s the kind of open-hearted and open-minded chap I am.
JW: But still, get on. What did you make of them?
JP: I just liked the fact that I was hearing words being used in popular songs that I wasn’t used to hearing. Just the use of language really pleased me as much as anything else. And his voice again was not a voice that you could immediately trace back to somebody else. I mean, he wasn’t trying to be Marc Bolan or he wasn’t trying to be Jim Morrison again. And they were as Manchester bands – so many of these bands do seem to be from Manchester – just another band that arrived from nowhere with a very clear and strong identity, you know. And that is always attractive.

In a 2011 interview, Johnny Marr claims he wrote This Charming Man specifically for their second Peel session.[1]

In his Autobiography, published in 2013, Morrissey states that Peel, "..did not ever come to see the Smiths play live, and he did not attend any of the radio sessions", and, "..if not for the continual exuberance of John Walters, John Peel could never have encountered the Smiths." On the two meeting Morrissey adds, "When I accidentally meet John Peel over the years (two times, and both in motorway service stations), he shyly has nothing to say on both occasions." [1]

Festive Fifty Entries

From an active Festive Fifty career that lasted just five years but boasted two number ones, the Smiths are the third most successful act in the history of the annual chart voted on by Peel's listeners, according to Mark Whitby in The Festive Fifty (Nevin Publishing, pg 151), using David Gedge's formula of one point for a 50th placing and 50 points for a chart-topper, additionally weighted to discount the effect of multiple entries of the same song in all-time lists. This puts the band behind only the Wedding Present (2nd) and Fall (1st).

The Smiths' 11 entries in the 1987 Festive Fifty is a record for a single year, while their final album, 'Strangeways Here We Come' from the same year is the highest-scoring LP ever in terms of "Gedge points" (Whitby, p174). The band's self-titled 1984 debut is second in the same list.



The Smiths - Peel Session 1983

The Smith's first Peel Session

Four sessions. The first was later picked as one of the Best 125 Peel Sessions. Tracks from #1 and #2 were released on Hatful Of Hollow (LP, Rough Trade, 1984), while the complete first session was released as The Peel Sessions (EP, Strange Fruit, 1988). Individual tracks appeared on the various artists sessions compilations Manchester - So Much to Answer For (CD, Strange Fruit, 1990) and New Season: The Peel Sessions (CD, Strange Fruit, 1991).

1. Recorded: 1983-05-18. First broadcast: 01 June 1983. Repeated: 21 June 1983, 24 August 1983, 29 December 1983, 28 May 1984, 27 May 1985, 03 November 1986

  • What Difference Does It Make / Handsome Devil / Miserable Lie / Reel Around The Fountain

2. Recorded: 1983-09-14. First broadcast: 21 September 1983. Repeated: 10 October 1983, 09 November 1983, 08 December 1983, 28 May 1984

  • This Charming Man / Back To The Old House / Still Ill / This Night Has Opened My Eyes

3. Recorded: 1984-08-01. First broadcast: 09 August 1984. Repeated: 27 September 1984, 26 December 1984, 12 August 1985.

  • Nowhere Fast / How Soon Is Now / William Is Was Really Nothing / Rusholme Ruffians

4. Recorded: 1986-12-02. First broadcast: 17 December 1986. Repeated: 05 January 1987, 20 January 1987, 17 February 1987, 25 March 1987

  • Is It Really So Strange / London / Half A Person / Sweet And Tender Hooligan

Other Shows Played

(The list below is compiled only from the database of this site and is far from complete, due to the relative lack of tracklistings from the period the band were active. Please add further information if known.)


The Smiths - This Charming Man (Official Music Video)

(JP: “Definitely should have been a single.”)
(JP: “Played you the 12 inch because I thought you'd like it, and also one or two, well quite a few people specified it, in fact.”)

The Smiths - How Soon Is Now? (Official Music Video)


The Smiths - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (Official Music Video)

(JP: “And that's the seventh record by the Smiths in the Festive Fifty as well...That's it, thanks for listening, goodnight.”)
(JP: "Caused a big scandal when that first came out, cos one of the popular papers said it was about spitting upstairs on the bus. There was a lot of trouble.")

The Smiths - There is A Light That Never Goes out


The Smiths - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

(JP: “Well, I like the Smiths meself, I mean obviously I do, but this is getting a bit daft, I think.”)
  • 29 December 1987: Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before (LP-Strangeways Here We Come) Rough Trade FF#12
  • 30 December 1987: Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (LP-Strangeways, Here We Come Rough Trade) FF#5
(JP: “I must admit, I thought this was a most unusual Festive Fifty this year, Quite clearly, not just because of the presence of eleven Smiths tracks in there, which, if we survive until next year, there quite clearly won't be, although if Morrissey brings out records, I don't doubt they'll get in there in profusion.”)
(JP: Our William is playing a solo tonight. This doesn't mean a great deal to you but it means a lot to him, he does a regular monthly gig near us in a restaurant and just usually does ensemble playing and tonight he's playing his first alto solo and he's a bit nervous about it and I'm trying to find an appropriate record to play him, should he be listening on his way to the do, and couldn't come up with anything really beyond this, which isn't appropriate but at least says William in the title.”)
(JP: "And I wish I was going to be there to see you, William.")
(JP: “In the current issue of Melody Maker, in their Rebellious Jukebox feature, Steve out of Gene picks the Peel Sessions version of the Smiths' 'This Charming Man' as one of his selections, and, well, why not.”)
  • 13 January 1995: This Charming Man (LP-Hatful Of Hollow) Rough Trade) (JP: “Do you hear the sound of trumpets being blown?”)
  • 29 December 2004 (Rob Da Bank)(RDB: 'So I was slightly lying when I said that was the last track before the festive fifty continues. We have got one more. This is probably one of the most requested tracks of the last couple of months.') There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (LP-The Queen Is Dead)' (Rough Trade)

Top Of The Pops

Cover Versions

(The list below was compiled only from the Cover Versions page of this site. Please add more information if known.)

Artist | Track | First Known Play

See Also

External Links

  • Morrissey, Autobiography, Penguin Books (2013)