Take any poll of the "greatest" albums of all time, apply a Mancunian filter, and time after time one band are hurled to the top: The Smiths. And if one sifts further through their repertoire, one in particular rises to the surface: The Queen Is Dead, almost universally hailed as their finest, yet perversely not by its creators (both Morrissey and Johnny Marr claim that their final studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come is their best).
This writeup is not the place to discuss the album, however great it may be; instead, I'd like to draw your attention, dear reader, to its final track: the elegant, almost triumphant closing track, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others. The moment when Morrissey admitted, as many had wondered for some time, that indeed there was diversity amongst the opposite sex 1, it is a fitting way to close the album, its theme of celebration slotting nicely against republicanism (The Queen Is Dead), unrequited love (the truly gorgeous There Is A Light That Never Goes Out), youthful romps through churchyards (Cemetry Gates) and staunch defiance of the Protestant Work Ethic (Frankly, Mr. Shankly).
Moz's lyrics are typical of the time, featuring humorous but cynical lyrics, repetition and an additional, gently yearning coda. His expression of "I have just discovered" reveals our narrator to be a person very much looking around himself and opening his eyes for the first time; the narrator, from this line alone, is clearly Mozzer himself. The frank admission of "Some girl's mothers are bigger than other girl's mothers" adds to the admission of hiding himself, as if to say the evidence he's "just discovered" had been there all along.
Meanwhile, Johnny's guitars are beautifully layered, juxtaposing a delicate and fragile line against Morrissey's more playful lyrics to create the impression of a singer who wasn't quite joking; a "ha ha, only serious" impression which gives the song a more urgent edge. A driving and almost insistent melody, it provides the perfect closer for the album, with the rhythm section provided by Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce driving onward towards the close. On an LP so full of Smiths classics, it stands out as a track which perfectly sums up the tension between the band, and the sheer brilliance their combination made.
The song poses one curiosity; the opening few seconds fade in, then outward again, before slowly creeping back. The genuine reason for this is uncertain, but perhaps is tied into the legal problems that embroiled the album's release. The Smiths were in the process of trying to sign with EMI, which understandably Rough Trade (their record label at the time) were less than pleased with. An injunction was landed on the album, already overdue; in the crisis to actually release the record, a "spoiled" version of the song (modified by the sound engineers as a sample, to prevent their not being paid) may have been used.
The album The Queen Is Dead was finally released in June 1986, and is discussed further here. In Autumn 1986, however, the German label Teldec/Zensor saw fit to release the track as a Germany-only single. This remains the only release of the song as a single. The single version has been edited; it no longer features the fade in-fade out of the LP version.
The cover art for both the 7-inch and 12-inch is a shot of Yootha Joyce, using the same picture as for the "Ask" single but with a burgundy sleeve.
- The 7 inch single features the B-side "The Draize Train", as previously released on the single "Panic". The A-side etching is "Rock and Rolling to the top", the B-side "A PRECISE DIAMOND CUT".
- The 12" single was released on black or orange vinyl, and features the B-sides "Frankly, Mr. Shankly", taken from the album "The Queen Is Dead", and "The Draize Train". The A-side etching is "---NOH GIRL LIKE JAGUAR ROSE", the B-side "BUSY TRAIN TO THE LOKOMOTION".
A final release of this song came as a live recording - in fact, the only ever live performance - from the last-ever Smiths gig in December, 1986. This was released as a B-side to the 1987 singe I Started Something I Couldn't Finish.
Footnote 1: Morrissey said in NME in June 1986: "I'm realising things about women that I never realised before and "Some Girls..." is just taking it down to the basic absurdity of recognising the contours of one's body. The fact I've scuttled through 26 years of my life without ever noticing that these contours are different is an outrageous farce!"
Song lyrics and details taken from my copies of the single; words by Morrissey, music by Johnny Marr. Likewise artwork and etchings taken from my copies. Release and chart information from "Passions Just Like Mine" (Link)