"William It Was Really Nothing"
collectors appendix

 

UK 7" first edition (green artwork) [Rough Trade RT166]
Rigid sleeve. Light green label with dark green text. Front and back can be viewed in the left section of this page. It appears that most copies of this version of the single have a push-out centre, but a few have solid centres.

  • push-out centre
    Initial pressing of the 7" has a push-out centre, as requested by Morrissey.
    RT 166 A-1U-1-3-2 / RT 166 B-1U-1-3-4
    RT 166 A-1U-1-3-1C / RT 166 B-1U-1-3-1C
  • solid centre
    Later pressings, or perhaps pressings for a foreign market such as Ireland, have a solid centre.
    RT 166 A-1U-1-2-10 / RT 166 B-1U-1-2-18

UK 7" second edition (lilac artwork) [Rough Trade RT166]
Rigid sleeve. Light blue label with dark blue text. Front and back can be viewed in the left section of this page.

  • push-out centre
    RT 166 A-1U-1-3-20 / RT 166 B-2U-1-1-1
  • solid centre
    RT 166 A-1U-1- / RT 166 B-2U-1-
UK 7" - 2008 reisue [Rhino UK RHN166]
This is almost identical to the original Rough Trade release in green artwork. The sleeve is still rigid, but the image on the front is the slightly different one originally used on the 12" format. The catalogue number on the back of it was changed to RHN166, the Rough Trade address was removed, and a barcode was added at the bottom. The record has a solid centre. The catalogue number was also changed to RHN166 on the label, and the logo was removed. Publishers on the right of it are now Universal Music, etc.

UK 12" first edition (green artwork) [Rough Trade RTT166]
Light green label with dark green text. Front and back can be viewed in the left section of this page. The record is slipped inside a white paper sleeve.
RTT 166 A1 / RTT 166 B2

UK 12" second edition (lilac artwork) [Rough Trade RTT166]
Light blue label with dark blue text. Front and back can be viewed in the left section of this page. The inner sleeve is in the same pale blue as the label, showing the catalog number RTT166 in white in one corner.
RTT 166 A-2U-1- / RTT 166 B-3U-1-1-

UK CD5 [Rough Trade RTT166CD]
In 1988 Rough Trade started reissuing the Smiths singles back catalogue on cd format, but stopped before half of the singles were done. "William It Was Really Nothing" was one of the eight singles to get reissued that year, and it was one of the few that were given different artwork for the new format. This new artwork was neither variation already used for this title, but it had already been seen on the German edition of the "Ask" single. It was adapted to fit the cd's thin jewelcase type of insert. The cd's 'label' itself follows the pattern of all others in the series, with a horizontal stripe across the middle, this one being in the same yellow and tan used for the original German vinyl.

UK sheet music [Warner Bros Music Ltd and IMP 20316]
The sheet music for this single includes tabs to the three songs featured, and the cover shows a variation on the single's artwork. View here.

§

UK 7" jukebox [Rough Trade RT166]
The text layout on the label of the "William It Was Really Nothing" jukebox 7" is the same as the original green version described above, but the record has a large opening in the centre. It doesn't come with a picture sleeve unless someone found an orphan one to slip it in.
RT 166 A-1U-1-1-1 / RT 166 B-1U-1-1-1
RT 166 A-1U-1-1-2 / RT 166 B-1U-1-1-4
RT 166 A-1U-1-1-3 / RT 166 B-1U-1-1-5

UK 7" promo [Rough Trade RT166]
The single was promoted with red 'white labels' of the 7" format. The labels are usually blank but some copies have been seen a white sticker on the a-side giving the single's artist, title, catalogue number, etc. This promo has the mandatory push-out center and usually comes in a black custom sleeve which sometimes has a golden Scott Piering contact info sticker on its front. Copies have been spotted in a stock picture sleeve with holes punched into it.
RT 166 A-1U-1-1-1 / RT 166 B-1U-1-1-1

UK 12" promo [Rough Trade RTT166]
After b-side "How Soon Is Now?" started getting significant attention from radio and especially club DJs, but before the latter song was released as a proper single a-side (so very likely in the final months of 1984), a very limited number of 12"s were made into promos to capitalise on this unexpected success. A black 'AA' inside a circle was stamped on the b-side label next to "B SIDE" and a blue 'AA' sticker was affixed over the letter 'B' on the back of the sleeve, thus making this single a double-sided one of "William, It Was Really Nothing" and "How Soon Is Now?". A rectangular gold sticker with Scott Piering's Appearing contact information was also added on the back of the sleeve.

UK 36cm x 54cm promo poster (14" x 21")
This is one of the few promo posters that are not in the traditional 12"x24" format. It is a bit wider and not as long. View here.

§

UK 7" test pressing [Rough Trade RT166]
The test pressing for the first 7" edition detailed above has white labels and a solid centre. The labels usually have the band's name, the title and the catalogue number handwritten on them. One copy has been spotted with the side letter stamped in ink inside a circle and the title handwritten. One or perhaps a few collectors have their copy slipped inside an early version of the picture sleeve. This early version features the same man-on-bed artwork, but in red instead of green, the name of the band is in a different font, and the grey stripe at the back carries over onto the front, stopping over the model's head.
RT 166 A-1U-1-1-1- / RT 166 B-1U-1-1-1

UK 7" reissue test pressing [Rough Trade RT166]
One-sided white-label test pressing of the second 7" edition, side A. Additional info such as matrix numbers would be appreciated.

UK 7" reissue test pressing [Rough Trade RT166]
One-sided white-label test pressing of second 7" edition, side B, dated '19 OCT 1987' with 'RT166 B-2U' in handwriting.
RT166 B-2U-1-1-1

UK 12" test pressing [Rough Trade RTT166]
UK 12" white label test pressings of singles released by the Smiths in 1983-1984 are quite rare as they were never used for promotion. They are from the initial pressing of the 12" format, and their labels are simply white paper ones, usually with title, band name and catalogue number handwritten on them. Again, about a handful or two are expected to have made it into the hands of the band members, label employees and entourage, and from there perhaps into the collections of a few lucky fans. This particular test pressing has been seen in a hole-punched picture sleeve.
RTT - 166 A1 / RTT - 166 B2

UK 12" test pressing of b-side [Rough Trade RTT166B-3U]
A one-sided test pressing of b-side "How Soon Is Now?" has also made it into the hands of one or a few lucky collectors. Its labels are perfectly white without any printed or handwritten information on them. The record comes in a white paper poly-lined record bag with "RTT 166B-3U" handwritten in blue and "How Soon Is Now" handwritten in purple in a corner. Surprisingly, the date "8 APR 1986" is stamped in black ink above this handwriting, which does not make any sense. The reverse plays a test tone.
RTT 166 B-3U-1 / LPFB 12

UK 7" - 2008 reissue 7" test pressing [Rhino UK RHN166]
The white label test pressing of this item has so far only been sold as a set with the test pressings of the other 7"s included in the "Singles Box". It is therefore described in the latter item's collectors appendix.

UK 7" - 2008 reissue 10" acetate [Rhino UK RHN166]
The 10" metal-based lacquer reference acetate for the 2008 7" reissue listed above comes housed in a 12" grey Heathmans Mastering sleeve with printed custom studio labels on the front (white with Heathmans Mastering logo on top, band name, title, catalogue numbers and '21/9/2008'). The matrix number is handwritten in the centre of the disc.

UK in-house cassette
A Copymasters cassette featuring "William" and "Please Please" [sic] from this single has made it into the hands of at least one collector. It is dated '18/7/84' and the cassette's reels feature the Motown logo.

UK production master tape
Rough Trade's master tape for this single has made it to the collectors world. It is housed in a 11" X 11" X 1" box with a 'CBS Mastering Services' label on it. It is dated '10/9-84' and the label lists all the recording info: band, producer, catalogue number, tracks, song lengths and plenty of technical information.

UK proof sheet for original 7" - red tinted
This shows the front and back of the early version of the sleeve mentioned in the description of the test pressing above. This early version features the same man-on-bed artwork, but in red instead of green. The name of the band is in a different font and the grey stripe at the back carries over onto the front, stopping over the model's head.

UK proof sheet for 7" reissue
A proof sheet showing the sleeve artwork of the second 7" edition (with cover star Billie Whitelaw) has made it into the hands of a collector. The front and back are shown side by side, with colour, registration and proofing bars. The front has the flaps above and below meant to be folded over the back.

UK proof sheet for 7" reissue - rejected
Even more interesting is the proof sheet showing rejected artwork for the 7" format. The difference with the above is the text on the back which was tested in yellow before being changed to black. It shows the front and back, with colour, registration and proofing bars, but without the flaps above and below the front side (the back side has the full back artwork).

UK proof sheet for 12" reissue - rejected
In parallel with the previous item, a rejected proof sheet of the artwork for the second edition of the 12" format has the text on the back in yellowish green.

UK proof sheet for 12" reissue - rejected
Another proof sheet for the latter format shows the Billie Whitelaw 12" artwork in a vaguely dark blue, almost black tint, with all the text in black. Front and back are shown side by side, with proofing bars and annotations/alteration notes, presumably from Jo Slee herself.

UK proof of cd-single artwork
Unfolded and uncut printer paper proof for the cd-single front and reverse sleeve with proofing and registration bars. There doesn't seem to be any difference with the final version of the artwork.

UK layered portfolio for 12" reissue
This layered portfolio was used in the design of the 12" reissue. The bottom layer shows a sketch of the Billie Whitelaw 12" artwork. The layer above it is transparent and shows diagonal stripes and handwritten comments. The top layer is opaque brown with band name and title handwritten in the bottom left corner.

UK Jo Slee correction letter about artwork
A letter from Jo Slee also made it to the collecting marketplace at the same time the previous artwork related items did. In the letter she gives instructions about corrections to be made to the rejected 7" and 12" artwork with yellow/green text on back described above.

 

Australia CD5 [Festival D1072]
Although CBS had passed on releasing this single when it first came out in 1984, Festival followed in the steps of Rough Trade UK and reissued it on cd-single in 1988, with the same new artwork showing Colin Campbell. However they didn't quite follow the Rough Trade designs and the packaging was done more cheaply than in the UK, so the Australian cd-single almost look like a bootleg from the era. The front artwork was cropped to fit the jewelcases (the UK cd-singles were released in the thin cases that used wider artwork) and the colours were not reproduced as well. Fortunately the cd label's 2-colour horizontal stripe design remained as in the UK.

 

Canada various artists promo 7" [WEA EP#2]
This item is described in the "Hatful Of Hollow" collectors appendix as it served to promote the latter album.

 

Denmark press release
Nothing by the Smiths or Morrissey was ever released in Denmark. During the Smiths days Swedish pressings were distributed all over Scandinavia. It appears that these releases were still being promoted, as copies of the Swedish 7" were sent to Danish radio paired with a press release in Danish. This press sheet was printed on green paper under the header-logo "Dansk Sam".

 

France 12" [Virgin 80130]
The French 12" is very similar to its British counterpart. The sleeve appears to be slightly darker and the band name on the front is in black instead of very dark green. The back of the sleeve features the additional Virgin credits and logo. The label is in the same two tones of green. The inner sleeve is a white one with instructions in French on how to care for the record inside.

§

France 12" promo [Virgin 80130]
Stock copies of the 12" were stamped with a promo warning so they could be used for promotion of the single. The stamp states "Disque gratuit interdit a la vente", the words forming an embossed circle in the upper right corner of the sleeve.

 

Germany 7" [Intercord INT110.169]
The 7" sleeve is similar to its UK counterpart, but it is made of paper. The backs adds the Intercord logo, credits and catalogue number, and at the top and bottom are white borders. The label is the generic blue Intercord one.

Germany 12" - multicoloured vinyl [Intercord INT125.219]
For the first time Intercord was solely in charge of releasing "William It Was Really Nothing" in Germany. Rough Trade Deutschland had been involved with every single since "This Charming Man", but they were apparently not with this one (unless they had something to do with the black vinyl edition described next). This 12" was pressed on marbled pink candy-like vinyl. The record features the generic blue Intercord labels and is slipped inside a plain anti-static plastic inner sleeve. The outer sleeve is also a variation on the British one, with only minor local credit corrections on the back. To entice potential buyers, the front of the sleeve also shows an image of what the vinyl looks like, with the words "Platte in mehr-farbigem Vinyl" (view left).

Germany 12" - black vinyl [??]
A black vinyl edition of this 12" has been reported. It is unclear if this was produced by Intercord or perhaps by Rough Trade Deutschland, in a scenario parallel to that of other singles (Intercord = coloured 12"; RTD = black vinyl 12"). If it was made by Intercord, it can be speculated that this may have served promotional purposes, as black vinyl is cheaper to produce than coloured vinyl. The fact that the record was paired with a set of pins on a piece of cardboard adds weight to that theory. More information would be appreciated.

§

Germany 7" promo + press sheet [Intercord INT110.169]
Promos for this single were stock copies of the 7" dispatched to media with a yellow and white 1-sided INFO sheet. The track listing, running times and catalogue number are given in the yellow border at the top of the press sheet and the Intercord logo and contact information in the yellow border at the bottom. Some of these 7" have been spotted with an additional sticker on the front of the sleeve but it is unclear whether this have anything to do with the fact that they are promos.

 

Greece 12" [Virgin VG2023 Z]
The sleeve of the Greek 12" is very similar to that of the British 12", but the white in the artwork came out more like beige. The back features additional Greek catalogue number and credits. The labels are the classic Virgin ones, green on one side and red on the other. The record is slipped inside a good quality anti-static plastic inner sleeve.

 

Italy 7" [Virgin VIN45123]
The sleeve of the Italian 7" is similar to the UK one, but it has a skin-like texture and its shade of green is brighter. The band's name on its front is clearly black instead of very dark green. The back artwork differs from the back of the UK 7" only in the correction of the catalogue number at the top, the addition of a Virgin logo and credit in the bottom left corner and the omission of the label code at the bottom. The labels are pale green with mid-green text laid out as on the UK Rough Trade 7" labels. The Virgin catalogue number is above and the Virgin logo beneath the Rough Trade logo on the left, a few expected changes were made to the technical data on the right and the line "Made in the UK" at the bottom was deleted. It is interesting to note that the copyright text around the edge of the labels is printed in reverse and can only be read through a mirror.

Italy 12" [Virgin VINX71]
This item is a very important one for many collectors. It is the holy grail of their collection, the item they paid a fortune for, the one they haven't found yet, or the one they managed to find at a ridiculously low price in an unexpected stroke of luck. Over the years the item has gotten more and more sought after because of the accidental inclusion of an alternate studio outtake of "How Soon Is Now" on side B. The sleeve is slightly smaller than usual (by half a cm in heigth and about 1cm in width), its colour is a brighter green than in the UK and the name of the band on the front is in black. The back and labels feature the usual layout and colours plus additional Virgin credits and catalogue number. The record doesn't come with an inner sleeve.

§

Italy 7" promo [Virgin VIN45123]
Copies of the stock 7"s that were stamped in blue ink on the sleeve may have served for promotion. More information needed.

Italy 12" promo [Virgin VINX71]
The Smiths were never big sellers in Italy, and only a handful of each release was pin-stamped "Campione Gratuito" in a corner of the sleeve before being mailed out for promotion. The stamped copies of this 12" are, needless to say, extremely rare. Other copies were stamped in blue ink on the labels with the promo warning "Campione Gratuito Vietata la Vendita" instead of having the sleeve pin-stamped.

 

Philippines 12" [Rough Trade EP-RTR-1]
The Smiths must have been an unlikely hit in the Philippines, as this was the second single in a row released there (assuming these were released in 1984 and not later). The most notable difference with the UK pressing is the front of the sleeve on which the band's name appears in the same tint of green as the artwork (as opposed to the darker green or black everywhere else in the world). The front also has the words "Maxi-single" in black in the top left corner. The back of the sleeve and labels are the expected variations on the UK ones, in the same colours but with additional local credits and logo. The inner sleeve is a cheap wrinkly anti-static type.

 

Sweden 7" [MNW RT166]
A look at the matrix engravings between the run-out grooves shows us that the Swedish 7" was printed in England. It is very similar to the English version, with same text layout everywhere, but the label has a solid centre instead of a push-out one and the additional 'nęb' logo. The sleeve is identical but it has a skin-like texture.