The Smiths were and remain a band primarily associated with the collaboration between Morrissey and Johnny Marr, who together produced four full-length albums and a ridiculous amount of songs which would remain exclusive to singles - while today the non-album single is all but dead, The Smiths released some of their best material exclusively on 45s. Among these non-album cuts sit three instrumental numbers; of these, two have managed to sneak their way onto some of the numerous compilations released before and after the group's inevitable demise.
There is, however, one which remains condemned to relative obscurity within the Smiths canon: The Draize Train, a heavy guitar-laden track which twists and turns, layering guitars upon itself as with many other of the band's songs. Its title can be seen as a reference to the "Draize test", a rather nasty procedure involving testing irritants on rabbits. While Mozzer was unwilling to write lyrics for it, claiming it to be "the weakest thing Johnny had ever done", the rest of the band seem to delight in it, also earning the praise of Geoff Travis, head honcho of Rough Trade, their record label of the time.
The song features some of the fullest displays of Marr's guitar wizardry, the lead guitar track bouncing from one end of the scale to another with remarkable ease as the rest of the song continues, keeping the pace with some excellent guitarwork itself. Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce perform at their usual, excellent level, although the song acts more to showcase the guitar than anything else; earlier mixes, however, were to emphasise the percussion to a much greater extent. Just as New Order would discover acid house in '87 with Fine Time, early versions of The Draize Train featured synthesisers and drum machines evocative of that genre, the anti-Smiths if ever there was one.
Earlier I denounced this song's relative obscurity, but surprisingly many Smiths fans will undoubtedly have heard it - a firm live favourite later in the band's lifetime, it was a regular encore number during the Queen Is Dead tour, giving Morrissey a chance to rest his voice before returning to finish the show. As such, it was recorded by the BBC as part of the 23/10/86 Kilburn performance, later released as the live album Rank. (Its appearance on the LP is seen by many as a peace offering to Marr by Morrissey - as it was credited solely to the former, the royalties would be tipped in his favour.) The live version is quite a different beast to the studio performance, with both Johnny Marr and brief Smith Craig Gannon offering a wildly successful four minutes of crashing, frenzied guitars.
The studio version remains a harder creature to track down, not yet having officially been released on a CD album. Typical of the band, it was released as an extra B-side, an incentive to purchase the 12" single as opposed to the 7" with just the one flipside. The Draize Train can be found on the following singles:
The studio version can also be found on the Australian cassette and vinyl editions of The World Won't Listen
. The live recording at the Kilburn can be found exclusively on Rank
Compiled using my own copies of the singles "Panic" and "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others", Passions Just Like Mine for the different releases and Kilburn date, and "Songs that Saved Your Life" by Simon Goddard for Morrissey's quote and information about other mixes.