Onetime bandmates Johnny Marr and Matt Johnson have recorded a cover of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City.” The version maintains the original’s jaunty vibe, but with a chilliness that’s unique to Marr and Johnson’s music; Johnson recites the lyrics with detachment and Marr plays a soaring, bluesy solo at the end. Marr was a member of Johnson’s band, the The, from 1988 through 1994. The duo gave the song its premiere last month at a show at London’s Roundhouse; they recorded this version at the show’s soundcheck.
“It’s been great to record with Matt again and to play alongside his amazing voice,” Marr says in a statement. “The The is part of my life and we both always loved ‘Summer in the City.’ We’ve made it our own.” Johnson and Marr previously reunited last year to record the The’s “We Can’t Stop What’s Coming.” That song appeared in a documentary about the The called The Inertia Variations. They also released it as a seven-inch.
Marr is releasing the audio from his Roundhouse show — which marked the first time in 25 years that he and Johnson shared a stage — via his website. He plans on going back on the road in 2019.
This year marked the first U.S. shows by the The in 18 years. The tour came on the heels of the release of The Inertia Variatons and a biography of the group, Long Shadows, High Hopes, which Johnson authorized and was written by Neil Fraser.
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“My decision to come out of ‘retirement’ was triggered by personal events in my life,” Johnson said in a statement at the time. “My older brother and long time collaborator Andy ‘Dog’ Johnson, who created many of the distinctive the The record sleeves over the years, passed away in January 2016. His death came in the middle of the filming of The Inertia Variations, a Swedish feature length documentary that was being made about me. Andrew’s illness and subsequent death became a central part of the film and inspired me to write my first new song in many years, ‘We Can’t Stop What’s Coming.’ The whole situation caused me to reflect deeply about what I want to do with my life and so I decided to put a toe back in the water to feel the temperature.”