Somebody did a thing, and some old recordings are new now. You can hear some demos from a long time ago on Soundcloud, and whatever. Listen, I guess. I won’t stop you.

I never thought of Morrissey as someone who would tolerate doing demos, with all the stories of him wanting to come in and do vocals in as few takes as possible (for aural evidence, compare the recorded second chorus of “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” to how he sings it live: the emotion sounds good in the studio, yeah, but it could have stood another take). Yet here he is, discussing takes with Stephen Street—and even asking to “do it again”! This has to be fake.

Yet, assuming these demos are real (which I have no reason not to believe—except for the fact that a Morrissey fan would be exactly the kind of person who would create fake demo backing tracks), then they accomplished what all demos have done: they gave the label (or whoever) a metric to gauge the band’s progress, a reason to say yes or no to a particular project. After that, they are useless and stupid and not worth listening to.

Why would you, a grade-A superfan, want to listen to someone whose music you love and respect struggle through a shitassed version of a classic song you’ve already memorized backwards and forwards? I know who you are because non-fans don’t listen to demos of artists they aren’t fans of. Don’t be ashamed; I’m right here with you. I listened so you don’t have to. I shouted at Morrissey for missing his own cues that he hadn’t figured out yet. And these guitars sound like shit.

All ratings are on a 10-point scale.


I never cared for this song. It was a little too comfortable with whatever ironic “so-racist-it’s-anti-racist” thing Moz was heavy on in the 90’s. So the demo sounds like a cheap version of a song I don’t care for. RATING: 3


I like the final version of this song quite a bit. What I like about it is the chill vibe and the production, mainly, which means that the sputtering drum machine and nearly inaudible bass here ruins everything. Fuck this. RATING: 2


Not a great ballad, if you ask me. Not bad, but not great. If you’re listening to The Queen Is Dead, just play “I Know It’s Over” twice. Or if you’re me, play “I Know It’s Over” forty times while alternately staring out the window and smiling with your eyes closed…what the fuck is a trumpet doing here? WHY IS THE TRUMPET FROM THE COSBY SHOW THEME HAVING A DUET WITH MORRISSEY? WHY DOES HE THINK THAT’S FUNNY? IS HE GENUINELY LAUGHING OR IS HE TRYING TO CREEP-LAUGH? Jesus. RATING -4


Before I listen to this, I want you to know that “The Boy Racer”, and most of Southpaw Grammar, are among my favorite Morrissey recordings. He’s confident; he’s criticizing social norms in a non-whiny manner; he doesn’t give a fuck. Also, the songs rock harder than usual. Where this album gets its bad/unlistenable reputation from are the first and last tracks, which when removed bumps the quality up into the stratosphere. Just pretend they don’t exist. Yes, it’s neat that he samples Shostakovich. On paper. It’s neat on paper.

Oh my fucking shit. This demo blows. RATING: -8


Okay, I don’t hate this so far. The guitars still sound awful, but at least it’s got some energy. I’m on the fence and I don’t really care to listen to a demo for nine minutes to see if that changes. RATING: 5


I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song before. It’s OK. RATING: 4


That sounds about right.

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