Johnny Marr today announces details for Spirit Power: The Best Of Johnny Marr. Set for release on 3rd November via BMG, Spirit Power is a major new collection spotlighting the breadth of musicality across the first ten years of Johnny Marr’s prolific solo career.
Spirit Power also includes two brand new songs produced by Johnny Marr with his co-producer James Doviak, titled ‘Somewhere’ and ‘The Answer’. Released today after premiering live on the Zoe Ball BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show, ‘Somewhere’ arrives with immediate anthemic magnetism, offering an exciting glimpse of a future fan favourite.
Johnny wrote the song whilst on tour with The Killers, and Blondie, in 2022. Speaking about the track, Marr said: “I’ve played a lot of arenas over the years, and in terms of songwriting, there’s nowhere to hide. For a song to work, it has to be a banger. I know it’s almost uncool to think in those terms, but I grew up in a house where my parents listened to Motown, where you couldn’t get a song released if it wasn’t full of hooks.”
Johnny Marr’s storied life in music isn’t short of milestones – the Inspiration Award at the Ivor Novellos, an Oscar nomination for his work with Hans Zimmer on Inception, an NME Godlike Genius Award. But it’s the past decade of exciting creative encounters that points towards a defining moment for Johnny Marr in 2023 - celebrating ten years of inspired songwriting, fronting a band.
Personally curated by Johnny Marr, Spirit Power encompasses songs from across four widely acclaimed UK top ten solo albums (2013’s The Messenger, 2014’s Playland, 2018’s Call The Comet, 2022 double album Fever Dreams Pts 1-4), non-album single releases ‘Armatopia’, ‘The Priest’ (w/ Maxine Peake), two brand new songs, plus a cover version of Depeche Mode’s ‘I Feel You’, released for Record Store Day 2015 and revealing the degree to which Marr has found his metier as a vocalist of singular expressive power. The Deluxe CD edition of Spirit Power will feature five previously unheard demos and rarities, ‘Hi Hello’ (Demo), ‘Somewhere’ (Demo), ‘The Answer’ (Crazy Face Version), ‘The Messenger’ (Demo), and ‘Speak Out Reach Out’ (Crazy Face Version).
It’s a body of work that mirrors, above all, Marr’s love of melody. He elaborates: “It’s a conversation I have from time to time with [Pet Shop Boys’] Chris Lowe, about how much harder it is to write songs that you want to listen to in the daytime. It’s easier to do something that’s perceived as cool if it’s a bit moody. But, for me, the mission with these records was to make songs that you could listen to on the way to school, on the way to the gym, on the way back from work – you know, in the way that you had with, say, Blondie.”
Working and recording out of his own purpose-built Manchester studio, the Crazy Face Factory, Johnny Marr’s songwriting has embraced an instinctive sonic evolution across four full length albums, and the last decade of Marr’s creative output extends further still. From sound design work with Hans Zimmer on blockbuster productions such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, to designing and launching a signature Johnny Marr Fender Jaguar guitar, recently released in ‘Fever Dream’ Yellow, and partnering with Yogi Footwear to launch the Johnny Marr SS23 signature collection. This spirit of collaboration extends to long-time friends, and new - writing songs for Blondie, teaming with Noel Gallagher for performances across his solo albums, joining The Pretenders at Glastonbury 2023 for a surprise performance heralded as a highlight of the entire festival, working with Billie Eilish on the soundtrack for James Bond No Time To Die, and touring extensively as special guest to The Killers, also joining the band on stage every night across a 33-night tour of North America.
The upcoming publication of ‘Marr’s Guitars’ - a stunning new photography book - is set for 17th October via Thames & Hudson. Following his 2016 autobiography ‘Set The Boy Free’, Johnny describes ‘Marr’s Guitars’ as “a guitar book for people who wouldn’t usually own a guitar book”. Featuring contributions from Noel Gallagher, Bernard Butler and Ed O’Brien, the book offers a portal into the symbiotic relationship between Johnny and the guitars that have informed not just the last decade, but the lifetime evolution of his iconic sound. With personal reflections and insights written by Johnny Marr, foreword written by Hans Zimmer and photographs shot by Pat Graham, each guitar is identified with a crucial moment, a specific song, and each embodies a key aspect of Marr’s lifelong passion for songwriting.
Looking ahead, Johnny Marr will perform two very special homecoming concerts at Manchester’s Factory International Aviva Studios on 7th and 8th December 2023 where, for the first time, Johnny and his band will be joined by a 30-piece orchestra. Led by conductor Fiona Brice, the orchestra has been assembled by Johnny specially for the event and is composed of musicians from across the North. Fans can expect a full career-spanning set in what is set to be an emotional and epic finale to his 2023 live tour - A Night with the Johnny Marr Orchestra. Tickets are on sale here.
This month Johnny Marr joins BBC 6 Music as the station’s Artist in Residence, presenting eight new shows broadcast from Monday 18th – Thursday 21st September and Monday 25th – Thursday 28th September, 9pm-10pm with all episodes available to stream now on BBC Sounds.
Through each episode Johnny will explore the songs that have shaped specific periods of his life. Episodes include Influencers, where Marr explores the artists who informed his own playing and North x North West, in which he recalls his time living in Portland, Oregon. Throughout the series he’ll also take a deep dive into the inspiration behind various The Smiths riffs, demonstrate his deep love of Chic, and share advice for anyone about how to play the guitar.
Speaking about the programme Johnny said: "It’s been fun doing the 6Music Artist In Residence. I get to share my inspirations, collaborations, and recommendations. I hope people enjoy it. Good times."
Spirit Power: The Best Of Johnny Marr is released on 3rd November 2023 on heavyweight 2LP, CD and a limited Deluxe 2CD featuring additional material. Independent record shops have a limited gold 2LP while HMV will carry a limited Cobalt blue 2LP. Preorder here. An exclusive limited double picture disc plus merchandise bundles will be available from the official Johnny Marr store.
Spirit Power: The Best Of Johnny Marr - Deluxe 2CD Track Listing
New Town Velocity
Spirit Power & Soul
I Feel You
Night and Day
Walk Into The Sea
Hi Hello (Demo)
The Answer (Crazy F Version)
The Messenger (Demo)
Speak out Reach Out (Crazy F Version)