The Smiths A-Z: "Sweet And Tender Hooligan"

Famous when dead


A topical one for today with it featuring as one of the closers for current gigs...
Initially a B-side, but then released as a US-only 12" & CD single in May, 1995 as part of the promotion for Singles.

hi_1995_sweet12_1.jpg hi_1995_sweet12_2.jpg

Featuring coverstar boxer Cornelius Carr captured from the Boxers video by James O'Brien.
The Wolverhampton (B-side April, 1989) & final Peel Session (aired December, 1986) versions have been officially released, but the fabled/shelved "slower" outtake has yet to escape in to the wild.

The twist on the original biblical verse appears to come from:
"In the midst of life we are in debt"
Attrib.: Ethel Watts Mumford in "The Complete Cynic - Being Bunches of Wisdom Culled from the Calendars of... Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, Addison Mizner." (1902).

Should it have been a single at the time?
Can't abide it?
You know the routine.
Personally, seeing some of it performed at WCH '88 remains a highlight.


Well-Known Member
A fun song with a few laugh out loud lyrics, I think b-side status was just about right for this one (or it could have been fully completed in the studio and saved for Strangeways). I can imagine that radio may have had an issue with some of the deathly lyrics if it had been released as a single.

In the poll on this board the song ranked 31st from 73 group songs. In the poll on the Hoffman board it ranked 53rd.


Well-Known Member
Love this song so much. Those four b-sides from early 87 (London / Half a Person / Hooligan / Strange) were just amazingly good and it really did feel like they were firing on all cylinders right before it fell apart.

And it makes a great fun encore now, even if he does kind of growl most of the song, it's only at the end where his voice really fits the song any more.

A scanty bit of thing

Hot Mess Express
A magnificent flurry of epic beauty driven by an urgency that was built upon the knife-edge of cold steel that slices through this song’s gutteral kamikaze dive-bomb into earnestness and truth. ❤️
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Well-Known Member
Should it have been a single at the time? Yes, because it might have resulted in 2 more original b-sides. Agree with @BookishBoy - it's a great closer and always gets the crowd going.

On another note, there's no direct evidence for this but I always connected this character with the one in "The Last of Famous International Playboys."


from the Ice Age to the dole age
Brilliant. Morrissey's delivery is perfect, the mad growling makes the whole song for me.

In the midst of life we are in DEBT ETCETERAAAAAAAA-UHHHHH

God, I love his weird vocalisms.


from the Ice Age to the dole age


Senior Member
I discovered it as the B side of Interesting Drug and it took me weeks, if not months, to realize it was a Smiths track in the first place. I immediately bought Louder than bombs, which was terribly expensive for the high school teenager I was.

I adore it live, much more than the Smiths version, always thought that was also Morrissey’s feeling, but I guess it is just a wishful thinking.
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