Happy Birthday: Andy Rourke

Friday, January 17, 2020

Today we celebrate the birthday of one Andrew Michael Rourke, better known to most music fans as Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths. Of course, he’s continued to perform well beyond the existence of the band that first brought him fame, but if you’re not as readily familiar with his non-Smiths credits, well, we’re here to change that. In addition to putting together a playlist which features both Smiths songs and other people’s tunes on which he can be found (Sinead O’Connor, The Pretenders, and several of Morrissey’s solo singles), we’ve also spotlighted a six-pack’s worth of songs from throughout his career.

Oh, and before you dive into the music, we should also mention that Andy popped by Rhino HQ not so very long ago and picked some of his favorite records. We’ll be bringing you video of the visit in the very near future, but for now... READ ON!

1.    Sandie Shaw, “Hand in Glove” (1984): One of the UK’s definitive female pop singers during the ‘60s, Shaw was beloved by Morrissey, which is how this semi-unexpected cover version came to pass. She was backed by Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce, and our man Andy, and because of the rules foisted upon artists who performed on Top of the Pops, all three gentlemen can be seen “playing” with her during her appearance on the beloved British music program.

2.    Sinead O’Connor, “Someday My Prince Will Come” (1988): It may not be a Rhino release, but if you’ve never had the good fortune to hear STAY AWAKE, the Disney tribute album produced by Hal Willner it’s a must-listen. Not just for this song, but for other performances by artists within the Rhino catalog, including Tom Waits covering “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho (It’s Off to Work I Go),” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Yes, really.

3.    Vinny Peculiar, “Two Fat Lovers” (2005): Vinny Peculiar is, in fact, a gentleman named Alan Wilkes, and he’s been recording “literate autobiographical pop music” (his phrase, not ours) for 20+ years at this point. He’s been compared to Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker, and in addition to Rourke, he’s also worked with Bill Drummond, Luke Haines, and Jah Wobble. If that’s not enough info to tempt you into clicking on the video, you’re hopeless.

4.    Badly Drawn Boy, “Where Were You?” (2003): We don’t know the back story on how Rourke ended up playing bass on this B-side to Badly Drawn Boy’s “All Possibilities” single, but we’re sure glad he did.

5.    Proud Mary, “Mexico” (2004): Discovered by Noel Gallagher, who subsequently signed them to his label, Sour Mash Records, this band out of Royton, Oldham really ought to have a higher profile, given that they’ve opened for everyone from Ryan Adams and The Black Crowes to David Bowie and The Who. They actually just put out their fifth album (SONGS FROM CATALINA) last year, but this is from their second album, LOVE AND LIGHT. Oh, and in addition to his contributions to this tune, Rourke can also be heard on the song “Never Good Night.”

6.    D.A.R.K., “Watch Out” (2016): When news broke in January 2018 that Dolores O’Riordan had died, it was devastating to Cranberries fans, but it was just as bad for those who’d recently come to enjoy her work with a new band called D.A.R.K., featuring Rourke and Ole Koretsky. Their lone album, SCIENCE AGREES, was a fantastic effort, so the fact that there’ll never be a follow-up... Ugh. Just ugh.