The Smiths A-Z: "Reel Around the Fountain"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member












Next up in our Smiths A-Z project is this, the lead-off song from the debut album of 1984 - also included on the Hatful of Hollow compilation.

The song was played live 70 times by the Smiths. It has never been performed by Morrissey.

What do we think?
 

butley

Well-Known Member
I can live without this song. It’s not bad at all but once Morrissey got into his stride around the time of Meat Is Murder the pre-1985 stuff seemed a bit passé. Even at below par though he is still one of the best. He knew how to really make the most of Johnny’s repetitive smart-arse riffs.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
"With local acquaintances Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce, Marr already had the makings of a band. Morrissey had the words and the voice, a tremulous choirboy's cry. After playing only seven shows together, the Smiths had a record contract with Rough Trade Records, a top British independent label. Just as quickly, Morrissey's celibacy and the ambiguous sexual point of view in his lyrics became a major issue in the press. BBC Radio, for example, refused to broadcast the song "Reel Around the Fountain" after British tabloids claimed it was about child molesting.
In fact, Morrissey explains with some annoyance, the song was about "loss of innocence, that until one has a physical commitment with another person, there's something childlike about the soul.""

(Rolling Stone - October 9, 1986).

They refused to broadcast the Jensen version.
The first Peel session 'escaped' without issue - enjoyed it then, enjoy it now.
Regards,
FWD.
 
S

Steven SW

Guest
An absolute masterpiece. Top 5 Smiths. But the version on the debut album is a diabolical waste of the song. The John Peel session version is a million times better, with one of Morrissey's best ever vocals. On the album version, he sounds weak and muffled. Presumably this has something to do with the songs being in different keys – the session version is a whole step higher. Why they decided to lower the song is a mystery – it genuinely ruins it.
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
It has that haunting, suggestive, almost mystical quality that most of their early stuff has. The 1983-84 Smiths is a completely different entity from the 1985-87 Smiths. More peculiar, more English, more ethereal. This song is a perfect example.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
From the quote in FWD's post above:

In fact, Morrissey explains with some annoyance, the song was about "loss of innocence, that until one has a physical commitment with another person, there's something childlike about the soul."

This song literally changed my life. I was 13 at the time, I loved all kinds of music thanks to having older siblings, but when my brother bought this album when it came out and taped it for me, and I lay in my bed that night and pressed play and heard this song, it was like my childhood actually stopped, and something new started. I had never heard anything like this before and it captured that sense of being on the cusp of leaving childhood behind. It was just extraordinarily powerful and moving, for me.

(So even though I totally understand the issues around the album's production, etc, it's that version of this song that still takes me back to that little single bed in my room.)
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
Unique, dark, funny, moving, jarring, yes, Gregor 'ethereal'...I love both released versions despite the production flaws. I cannot imagine that M will ever bring this song into the setlist, which is probably a good thing...Bookish, you absolutely nail the importance and power of the song.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
Unique, dark, funny, moving, jarring, yes, Gregor 'ethereal'...I love both released versions despite the production flaws. I cannot imagine that M will ever bring this song into the setlist, which is probably a good thing...Bookish, you absolutely nail the importance and power of the song.
I mean, my god, imagine if he wheeled this one out, in Vegas! I do think he should re-visit more of these slower songs, as he gets older...
 
F

Fion s

Guest
One of the best songs ever lyrically, musically it's pretty nice too but it's the lyrics that really shine. "You can pin and mount me like a butterfly", just sublime. Easily a top 5 Smiths song for me.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
It’s a seductive and sweet tune that draws you into a dark and creepy universe. It certainly set Morrissey apart as as an unusual lyricist attracted to inconvenient subject matters and an unusual way of expressing them.
It still feels like the perfect opener for their début album.
 
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Southport Grandma

Active Member
Prefer the Troy Tate version of the song. There’s also allusion to the fountain of youth and loss of innocence in Tennessee Williams’ “Camino Real” which I wondered whether it had any influence on the lyrics.
 

Catholic

English Blood, Irish Heart
It has that haunting, suggestive, almost mystical quality that most of their early stuff has. The 1983-84 Smiths is a completely different entity from the 1985-87 Smiths. More peculiar, more English, more ethereal. This song is a perfect example.


Yes. I'm not sure "completely different" . . . but this is well said.

I wonder what accounts for this? How much is the earlier quality in Morrissey's vocals, vocal melodies, lyrics—or is it in Marr's music too?

If it is mainly down to Morrissey I wonder why it disappeared and if it ha ever resurfaced in later years?
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
Not that anyone follows what I say, on here. However, the other day I said the Queen Is Dead is my fave track ever, by anyone
That is actually a half-truth, its a joint fave song by anyone anywhere. Joint with Reel Around and Suffer Little Children and Wonderful. Woman
Reel Around means more to me than I could ever hope to type. The feel and romance echoed my own feelings to such a degree it is part of my DNA. The line "People see no worth in you, I do " is the most romantic and powerful sentiment art can hope to express and he did it with a voice both blue and true. I simply love this record and anyone who thinks Morrissey is a monster need only be given a copy of this song, to change their mind
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
what you think about this?
"Right, brace yourselves! The term "Reel around the fountain" is a term that was originally used by homosexuals. To "Reel around the fountain" is when you run your toungue around the tip of someone’s penis until they ejaculate."
I interpret the song lyrics as being about the loss of innocence when a child or young adolescent wakes up to his sexual désires / arousals. The title adds another layer, and I wonder if the tabloids were aware of that aspect. That blog is an interesting read, it does a really good job at explaining the various emotions captured by the words. The lyrics are dense, but really well crafted and passionate. There’s no hint of violence, not sure why the tabloïds decided that it was a song about child molesting.
 

SeniorLife

To be finished, would be a relief.
I can’t say it’s one of my favorites, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a listen once in awhile. Since I discovered The Smith/Moz post Smiths, I bought and listened to the tape-tracks back then out of released order. I believe The Smiths was my 3rd Smiths CD (?) to buy. So my brain was getting confused as to the maturation process of the band.

That being said, I think, for Morrissey being new to formal studio productions at the time, and most likely having very little if any vocal training, when he starts at 4:00 LP version ‘I dreamt about you last night……’, it’s near perfection. I have no vocal training myself, but I don’t know how you can’t listen to the final verse and not say to yourself, ‘I don’t know who Morrissey is, but that voice is damn amazing….’

Regarding Marr’s composition, it’s a great tune to just lay on the bed and forget about all life’s problems for 6 minutes and drift into dreamland….

Be well and safe all…..
 

Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
I do think it's about child abuse, told from a unique perspective. I don't believe Morrissey when he says otherwise, there are too many phrases than can be interpreted that way, and even his denial is awkwardly phrased. I am not open to discussion about it because some people who post here are not capable of that kind of discussion.
I think the vocals are beautiful, the lyrics are sublime, it's a juxaposition of an ugly subject explained in a sensitive way. I have thought this since the first time I heard it. You just can't ignore the opening line, and many others.
 
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