In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a musician on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: legendary record producer Stephen Street
Who is credited as singing backing vocals on The Smiths album ‘The Queen Is Dead’?
“Um – Ann Coates?”
“Which is Morrissey’s vocal put through a harmoniser.” (Laughs)
The pseudonym is a pun on the Manchester area Ancoats. You engineered The Smiths’ ‘Meat is Murder’ and ‘The Queen Is Dead’, before taking over as producer for their final record ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’, where there are stories that while Moz was in bed tucked up with a Sylvia Plath, Johnny Marr and the rest of the musicians would be covering Spinal Tap songs…
“That only happened during one session! (Laughs) Johnny was a night-owl so sometimes we’d work late. There was no messing around in the studio, but that was the one night we let our hair down – Andy [Rourke] knew all the basslines to Spinal Tap songs and would play them at the drop of a hat.”
You produced Morrissey’s 1988 debut solo record ‘Viva Hate’, then fell out over a royalty dispute. When did you last speak to him?
“I wrote to him 10 years ago and he was surprised to hear from me. When they first received my letter, his management asked: ‘Is this a legal letter and should we get our solicitors involved?’ (Laughs) But it was just a friendly letter asking how he was. We met in [London hotel] Claridge’s and I got involved in the reissue of ‘Viva Hate’. But he had it remastered again and took off the song ‘The Ordinary Boys’. When I disagreed with what he’d done, I was incommunicado again. There’s been the occasional little email, but I’ve not heard from him properly since.”
Would you produce another of his records if he asked?
“Yeah, I think so. It’s well-documented that he’s said some dubious things in recent years, but because of our long-term past relationship – The Smiths gave me my first big break – I feel a certain loyalty to him so if he asked, I would be interested.”
In 2019 you became a full-time member of the indie band Bradford, who formed in 1987. But on which Morrissey single does a cover of Bradford’s ‘Skin Storm’ appear as the B-side?
“Boy oh boy!. That’s after my involvement with him. Is it something from the album ‘Your Arsenal’?”
WRONG. It’s ‘Pregnant for the Last Time’.
“A great record. I’m not doing very well!” (Laughs)
Why did you decide to join Bradford now?
“Because there’s no pressure on us to tour in a transit van and do the things younger bands do. They were on my label back in the late 1980s, and when I heard what they were up to, I wanted to get involved. The main thing was I wanted [their] songs to see the light of day and the easiest way to achieve that was to join the team. I think we’ll remain a studio-based project.”
(see also: Question 9)
In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a musician on their own career. This week: legendary record producer Stephen Street
shoplifterromo also sends the link:
Smiths producer Stephen Street has told NME that he would still consider working with Morrissey in the future
- NME: "Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! - Boy George" - Morrissey mentions - November 20, 2020
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