"What Difference Does It Make?"
January/April 1984

 

What Difference Does It Make? (single edit)
Back To The Old House

UK 7" [Rough Trade RT146]
UK 7" [Rhino UK RHN146; 2008 reissue]
Australia 7" [CBS RTANZ003]
Germany 7" [Intercord INT110.152]
Holland 7" [Ariola/Megadisc RT146/VR10802]
New Zealand 7" [CBS RTANZ003]

 

What Difference Does It Make?
Back To The Old House

Canada 7" [Sire 92 92397]
USA 7" [Sire 9 29239-7]

 

What Difference Does It Make?
Back To The Old House
These Things Take Time

UK 12" [Rough Trade RTT146]
UK CD5 [Rough Trade RTT146CD]
Australia 12" [CBS RTANZ12002]
Australia CD5 [Festival D1074]
France 12" [Virgin 80119]
Germany 12" [RT Deutschland RTT146]
Holland 12" [Ariola/Megadisc RTT146 (08-022832-20)]
Japan 12" [Tokuma Japan 15RTL-4]
New Zealand 12" [CBS RTANZ12002]
Portugal 12" [Transmedia TM/RT146]
Spain 12" [Nuevos Medios 41-086M]

 

Additional information:
The 2008 reissue of the 7" single by Rhino UK was also included in the "Smiths Singles box" which compiled the band's first 10 UK singles (plus two bonuses). On each of the five weeks leading to the release of the latter box, two singles from it were put up for sale individually. Collectors could therefore buy two single reissues every week, or wait at the end of the programme to get all of them in the box, alongside the two bonus 7"s.

 

Artwork information:
Original releases show Terence Stamp from the 1965 movie "The Collector". The photo is not a still from the film, it probably was a publicity shot. The first UK 12" and the Holland 12" didn't have the band's name on the front.

Because Stamp didn't approve of the Smiths using his photograph, later UK 12" pressings have Morrissey mock Stamp's pose and grin, holding a glass of milk instead of a chloroform pad. This picture was also used for Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Spain and Portugal 12"s. The Morrissey photo was also used on the USA, Australia, New Zealand and later UK 7"s, but with the band name.

Stamp finally gave his approval (after intervention by Sandie Shaw) and the original photograph was reinstated on later pressings of the UK 12", but with the band's name added. The UK and Australia cd-singles and 7"s from all countries except the USA, Australia and New Zealand also have this cover of Stamp and band name.

In France the 12" single shows Morrissey and the band name in white, on the right. There is no artwork for the Canadian single.

When the single was reissued in 2008, Rhino UK used the original Stamp image.

Morrissey, in an interview given to Len Brown, on his mocking the Terence Stamp photo for the cover artwork: "I didn't want to be on the cover, and it was the ugliest picture I'd ever set an eye upon."

 

Etchings on vinyl:
None

 

Additional release date information:
UK 7": 20 January 1984
UK 12": February 1984
UK and Australia cd-single: 1988
Japan 12": 25 June 1984
USA: 5 July 1984
UK 2008 reissue: 17 November 2008

 

Chart peak information:
UK: 12

 

Promotion:
UK: This single was promoted with white label copies of the 7" dispatched with a two-sided press release (one side with artwork, other with track listing, news on upcoming album and Sandie Shaw single, and tourdates). Stock copies of the 7" were also sent to retail with a Scott Piering sticker on the back and a different press release. Other stock copies of the 7" have a Beer Davies plugger sticker and were distributed with a Beer Davies press sheet listing upcoming Jan-Feb 1984 tour dates, or with a three pages press kit including the latter press sheet, an 'Appearing' press release, and a Rough Trade one. Stock copies of the 12" paired with the latter three-page press kit served some very limited but unknown specific promotional purpose.

Australia: Promos were produced on both 7" and 12" formats. They featured the same content as the stock releases, but the labels were black and white versions of the typical Australian 'Hat man' labels, with a promo-only warning. The 7" was usually slipped in a generic CBS sleeve (in blue or pink), while the 12" was slipped inside a promo-stamped stock sleeve. Some copies of the stock 12" with a "Demonstration record" sticker on the b-side have been reported.

Canada: A promo version of the 7" was sent to radio. It was identical to the stock 7", it also came inside a generic WEA sleeve, but the record's center had a small hole next to which was found promo text.

Germany: Stock copies of the 7" were distributed with a yellow and white INFO sheet. Some of the sleeves had a round 'Promotional copy' sticker on them.

Holland: A cassette featuring the three tracks from this single was mailed by Megadisc to radio stations in Holland to promote the single. It was usually paired with a press release.

Japan: Stock copies of the 12" single were sent to radio with a white SAMPLE sticker on the sleeve and promo text added on the label.

New Zealand: Stock copies of both the 7" and the 12" were distributed for promotion with a 'Not For Resale' sticker on the label on side B.

USA: This single was promoted with a version of the 7" identical to the stock version, except for added promo text printed on the label. The record was distributed inside the usual stock sleeve. "What Difference Does It Make?" was also chosen by Sire to promote the debut album (information at the latter link).

 

Quotes

"Sire haven't promoted the group anyway. They released 'What Difference Does it Make' instead of 'This Charming Man' totally against our wishes and of course it will fail."
- Morrissey, The Face, 1984

"For me, almost all the records have been absolutely perfect, but I can't deny that there are some that haven't aged so gracefully - 'What Difference Does It Make?' ... I regret the production on that now. But that's the only regret, although I might seem like the kind of person that has many regrets."
- Morrissey, Jamming!, December 1984

"There's a couple of songs I don't like. In fact, I didn't really like them at the time. Like 'What Difference Does It Make', I thought was absolutely awful the day after the record was pressed..."
- Morrissey, Q, September 1992

"It was all right. I didn't think it was a particularly strong one. A lot of people liked it and it got to No. 10. It followed 'This Charming Man' and was part of that peak. It was all right. It went down great live, and that's when I liked it."
- Johnny Marr, Record Collector, November/December 1992

"We used to have a version of What Difference Does It Make? which was a lot more rumbly drum-wise, more of a jungley rhythm. John Porter listened to it and said, 'Try it like this,' very much straight 4s. I thought, Hmmm, I don't really like this, and Morrissey looked at me as if to say, 'No, I agree with you, Mike.' So, me and Morrissey would be sitting on one couch, and Johnny and John would be on the other, both grumbling away at the others. We tried it John's way and he was bouncing around the room, like, 'Cool, sounds more like a single!' And of course he was right it turned out to be one of our biggest hits!"
- Mike Joyce, Mojo, March 2000

 

Reviews

Single Of The Week
"Not so good as 'Charming Man' say some, but I'd say better. A wailing, wordless hook from your man Morrissey hovers ghost-like over a rubbery rockabilly beat, not marred one bit by Johnny Guitar Marr's springheeled periphery riffery. And the lyrics cut you, too. Perfect in its detente of tough and tender... Give these men a big, big hit."
- Paul Du Noyer, New Musical Express, 21 January 1984