Sheila Take a Bow

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"Sheila Take a Bow"
Single by The Smiths
from the album Louder Than Bombs
Released13 April 1987
Format7", 12", CD
RecordedJanuary 1987
StudioGood Earth Studios, London
GenreAlternative rock
LabelRough Trade
Songwriter(s)Johnny Marr, Morrissey
Producer(s)Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Stephen Street
The Smiths singles chronology
"Shoplifters of the World Unite"
"Sheila Take a Bow"
"Girlfriend in a Coma"
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]

"Sheila Take a Bow" is a song by the English rock band the Smiths. Released in April 1987, it reached No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart, the joint highest chart placing of any single by the Smiths during the band's lifetime. It was one of the band's many "between album" singles, and not included on any of the studio albums. It was, however, featured on Louder Than Bombs. The single's two B-sides, Peel Session versions of "Is It Really So Strange?" and "Sweet and Tender Hooligan", are also featured on Louder Than Bombs.


The production of the single was troublesome. Morrissey planned to bring back Sandie Shaw and have her as a second vocalist; Shaw had earlier collaborated with the Smiths in 1984 on re-recordings of "Hand in Glove", "Jeane" and "I Don't Owe You Anything". However, when she arrived to record with the band on 13 December 1986, Morrissey was sick. Shaw was "frantic", according to Mike Joyce, and she had to call up Morrissey to get the song's melody. She recorded her vocals, but her version was ultimately scrapped. She also later said that she "thought it was a horrid song", and scoffed at the notion of being a backing vocalist.[2]

An early version of the track, produced by John Porter and featuring a prominent sitar-sounding riff, was deemed unsatisfactory by the band. The single was re-recorded with Stephen Street as producer. Street's version scrapped the sitar and used a brief audio clip of a marching temperance band from the film Hobson's Choice in the song's intro.[3]

Music video[edit]

A music video was to be filmed, but Morrissey refused to show up for the taping at Brixton Academy.[2] A makeshift video recorded from an appearance on the television show Top of the Pops was subsequently used instead.[4]

Track listing[edit]

7" RT196
1."Sheila Take a Bow"2:41
2."Is It Really So Strange?" (Peel session, 17/12/86)3:04
12" RTT196
1."Sheila Take a Bow"2:41
2."Is It Really So Strange?" (Peel session, 17/12/86)3:04
3."Sweet and Tender Hooligan" (Peel Session 17/12/86)3:35
CD LICD9.00308L (Germany)
1."Sheila Take a Bow"2:41
2."Is It Really So Strange?" (Peel session, 17/12/86)3:04
3."Sweet and Tender Hooligan" (Peel session, 17/12/86)3:35
4."Shoplifters of the World Unite"2:57
5."Half a Person"3:36

Live performances[edit]

"Sheila Take a Bow" was only performed live twice by the Smiths, having the distinction of being the last song ever played by the group in front of an audience. It was performed live on the British music program The Tube on 10 April 1987, and on Top of the Pops on 23 April 1987 (although the band were miming to the studio version for this performance). Morrissey performed this song live for the first time on 14 March 2012 in Lima, Peru.[5]

Artwork and matrix message[edit]

The single's cover features transgender actress Candy Darling on the set of the 1971 film Women in Revolt.

The British 7" and 12" vinyls contained the matrix messages: COOK BERNARD MATTHEWS / none.[6]


Chart Peak
Ireland (IRMA) 3
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 10


  1. ^ "Sheila Take a Bow rating". AllMusic. Retrieved on 29 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b Simon Goddard Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrisey and The Smiths, Plume Books, 2010, pp. 386–387
  3. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Huttinger, Robert Huttinger. "Image of etching". Robert Huttinger.

External links[edit]