The words music fans never expected to hear: “Super Furry Animals cover The Smiths” become real as 30 rare and unheard Furries tracks are unearthed, including a joyously unfaithful reworking of:
THE BOY WITH THE THORN IN HIS SIDE
Super Furry Animals – Radiator (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) / Clarity Just Confuses Me (CD/Digital Bonus Disc)
Date: Fri 28 July 2017
Formats: Double CD (Cat: BMGCAT2CD98) / 2-Disc Vinyl LP (Cat: BMGCAT2LP98) / Digital Deluxe (Cat: BMGCATDIG98) / Digital MFiT (Cat: BMGCATIDIG98) / Digital HD (Cat: BMGCATHDIG98)
Promising to raise smiles and plenty of eyebrows Super Furry Animals have authorised the release of perhaps their least likely musical homage after digging deep into their trove of rarities to mark the 20th anniversary of their 1997 masterpiece, ‘Radiator’ and the release of deluxe, remastered editions. The Smiths’ ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ gets the full-on, Furry treatment in the never-before-heard cover version, originally recorded for a French magazine’s cover mount CD in the late nineties, but didn’t see the light of day….until now.
Available for download on Monday 19 June 2017 at midday via announcements on the band’s social media, Morrissey and Marr’s 1986 single opens with confusion as Gruff Rhys makes a telephone call to a would-be French translator, features the familiar, electrified Smiths chorus melody over a squelchy bass line before opening up into a glorious, floor-filling rave. A radio edit, squeezing the original opus to a teasing three and a half minutes, has been released prior to the full version being made available.
Recorded around the time of the release of Radiator, the full, eight-minute version takes the listener far from the maudlin streets of Manchester and into the aural fairground of the Furries at their most playful. Ultimately left off the French compilation and never revisited, this is the first fans will have known of the recording’s existence.
Gruff Rhys says of the unearthed track: “We wanted to translate the lyrics of The Smiths track into French, so I spoke to a French friend of mine, who was actually working in Manchester, hence the half-French, half-Mancunian accent on the spoken introduction. It didn’t quite work out that way, although there are elements of the translation on it if you listen carefully, so what we have instead is an instrumental homage. I can’t remember why it didn’t get released, but am glad it hasn’t been lost forever and Furries, perhaps even Smiths fans, can now make their own mind up on how it compares to the original.”
Radiator is the band’s second and arguably most cherished album and will be reissued in meticulously remastered form on heavyweight double vinyl and 2CD and download package including new, rarities compilation, Clarity Just Confuses Me on Friday 28 July 2017 on BMG. It was the album that saw Hermann fall in love with Pauline, people get a crash course in The International Language of Screaming and Super Furry Animals scale a peak of creativity that banished their association with Britpop and gave rise to the possibility of inflatable, 50ft bears joining them on stage.
Following a similar, fingertip search through the archives last year to remaster and reissue their lauded debut, Fuzzy Logic (released 4 November 2016), the band along with ‘head archivist’, Kliph Scurlock and mastering wizard, Donal Whelan took the original, analogue master tapes for the ‘Radiator’ sessions, recorded with producer and kindred spirit, Gorwel Owen, and restored them to their intended glory. The constant, yet occasionally haphazard, cataloguing of demos, sessions and outtakes by Owen and the band over two decades means that 30 additional tracks, including 19 tracks previously unreleased by the band, have been rescued, restored and prepared for release alongside the 14, original songs on Radiator.
Hitting the top ten of the UK album chart after its release on Mon 25 August 1997, Radiator saw the band return to North Wales for three months (recording in a bungalow, a mile from the end of an RAF training school runway) for the recording sessions, determined to extract themselves from a domestic music scene that was deemed increasingly ‘traditional’ and put the ghosts of their difficult, debut album sessions at the legendary Rockfield Studios firmly behind them. The album made itself a permanent fixture in fans’ and critics’ affections alike, with four Top 40 singles, Demons, Hermann ♥’s Pauline, The International Language of Screaming and Play It Cool squeezing stone-cold, Furries classics The Placid Casual, Bass Tuned to D.E.A.D and Mountain People out of the queue to challenge the charts.
The album’s original artwork remains, famously establishing the band’s long-standing relationship with the artist, Pete Fowler, whose spectacled ‘good v bad’ bear character on the album sleeve has become (occasionally literally) a totemic figure for the band and fans alike. Recent, new interviews with the band assisted Keith Cameron (NME & Mojo) in painting a fresh picture of the Radiator sessions in accompanying liner notes packaged within the double-gatefold 2CD edition. Capturing the spirit of the time, keyboardist/vocalist/noisemaker, Cian Ciaran told Cameron: “It was a totally happy time to be in a band, and it is a joyous record. Quite beautiful.”
A band statement ahead of the release says:
“For three, contented months we lived in a house in constant earshot of military aircraft, to make ‘Radiator’ the album that it was. The original album sounded great when we emerged from our exile on Anglesey, and still does, but technology moves with the times and now we can hear it in higher-resolution, as nature intended. We’ve forgotten as much as we ever knew, so the rarities, demos and b-sides on the second disc are as much a surprise to us as they are to you.”
The progression of the band’s ideas, from rehearsal room to studio to final album selection, is laid bare throughout the compilation, with multiple versions of tracks appearing in various forms. Scurlock’s in-depth knowledge, enthusiasm and co-curation means that the entirety of the Ice Hockey Hair EP is presented, including opening track, the languid groove of Smokin’ and closer Let’s Quit Smoking. By adding alternate mixes, Smoke and Dim Ysmygu (translation: No Smoking), in the offcuts selection titled ‘ETC’, the compilation’s meticulous curation perfectly demonstrates the tangential evolution of just one Furries track and gives insight into their fervent experimentation with sound.
A selection of demos, recorded at the then Furries HQ, Big Noise Studios in Cardiff in December 1997, contain not only Naff Gân, which turned into Ice Hockey Hair, but eight songs from Radiator’s final tracklisting in raw form. An unrecognisably sparse, fuzzed-up version of The Placid Casual, a leisurely rendition of The International Language of Screaming and early explorations of the glorious Mountain People (complete with mid-verse giggle from Gruff Rhys) are just three notable inclusions to be added to the collections of Furries completists.
Of the latest major digging and remastering process, Scurlock says: “Donal and I found the ‘Radiator’ remastering something of a jigsaw puzzle, with the archiving of the masters being less than meticulous, with many tape boxes marked ‘Master Mix’ without actually being the one that was originally released and several tracks formed of part of one mix and part of another. Ice Hockey Hair, for example, had 13 splice points and was formed of four different mixes. It was great fun to go back 20 years with the Furries and use advances in both analog to digital technology to get better, more realistic captures of the original ‘Radiator’ tapes. Taking a more natural approach to the mastering process allows more of what the band did back then to shine through, rather than coat it the unnecessary gloss of nineties mastering techniques. Delving further into the archives, the unreleased tracks, b-sides and demos have had only the faintest of touches to bring them up to a quality the band is happy with, but still puts us in the rehearsal room or studio with them.”
Super Furry Animals – Radiator (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) is available to pre-order now via Pledge Music: www.pledgemusic.com/superfurryanimals
Confirmed Radiator/Clarity Just Confuses Me Tracklisting:
RADIATOR (2017 REMASTER – CD & VINYL)
2. THE PLACID CASUAL
3. THE INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE OF SCREAMING
5. SHORT PAINKILLER
6. SHE’S GOT SPIES
7. PLAY IT COOL
8. HERMANN ♥’S PAULINE
10. TORRA FY NGWALLT YN HIR
11. BASS TUNED TO D.E.A.D
12. DOWN A DIFFERENT RIVER
14. MOUNTAIN PEOPLE
ICE HOCKEY HAIR E.P. (CD ONLY)
16. ICE HOCKEY HAIR
18. LET’S QUIT SMOKING
ETC. (CD ONLY)
20. DIM YSMYGU
21. THE BOY WITH THE THORN IN HIS SIDE
CLARITY JUST CONFUSES ME (BONUS TRACKS)
B SIDES & SUCH (CD ONLY)
1. CRYNDOD YN DY LAIS
2. HIT AND RUN
3. FOXY MUSIC
4. PASS THE TIME
6. B SIDE
7. CARRY THE CAN
8. WRAP IT UP
9. TRÔNS MR. URDD
11. PLAY IT COOL (U.K. ALBUM MIX)
DEMO SESSION, BIG NOISE STUDIOS, CARDIFF, DECEMBER 1996 (CD ONLY)
12. SFA THEME (DEMO)
13. THE INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE OF SCREAMING (DEMO)
14. TORRA FY NGWALLT YN HIR (DEMO)
15. DOWN A DIFFERENT RIVER (DEMO)
16. SHE’S GOT SPIES (DEMO)
17. HIT AND RUN (DEMO)
18. MOUNTAIN PEOPLE (DEMO)
19. PLAY IT COOL (DEMO)
20. BASS TUNED TO D.E.A.D (DEMO)
21. NAFF GÂN (DEMO)
22. THE PLACID CASUAL (DEMO)
23. MUSIC BOX (DEMO)
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