The difference is fairly marginal but quite significant as the LP version saw the addition of extra layers of synthetic strings - the original single perhaps being a truer reflection of the band's sound, although to be fair, there were a few songs as time went on that had the odd quirky sound added to them.
mp3 : The Smiths - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
The single reached #23 in the UK singles chart in September 1985 which was very disappointing for just about all concerned, I remember at the time that a few fellow band obsessives didn't buy it as the band had committed the heinous crime of shooting a promo video to go with the record - Morrissey had previously said that under no circumstances would the band ever do such a thing. This was of course an era when more and more money was being spent on extravagant and often innovative pop promos, when image took precedent over all else, and many fans felt betrayed.
It was their loss, for 'Thorn' is a very fine piece of music with some excellent strumming from Johnny Marr, while Morrissey delivers a very lovely vocal complete with some yodelling...
But what about the b-sides? Well, I reckon that they are two of the best tracks The Smiths ever recorded....and only on the 12" can you get to hear them the way they were intended.
Rubber Ring is a truly brilliant song -one of the most danceable tracks the band ever recorded. One that all four of the band play as equal a part in its magnificence as anything else in their entire repertoire. But just as you think it is going to fade away like most other songs, it it suddenly cuts out at 3:40 and after a short spoken vocal with a heavy European accent, it segues into Asleep, an incredibly moving piano-led ballad with a sense of a cold and bitter wind blowing through it as Morrissey. not for the last time, muses on taking his own life. And as the song fades out with the word 'goodbye', the piano stops and a music-box version of Auld Lang Syne - and should auld acquaintance be forgot - that just puts the icing on the cake of a truly astonishing bit of music that over the two songs lasts almost 8 minutes.
I have no idea why, on all the various compilation LPs that have been issued since, that Rubber Ring and Asleep have been separated into two separate songs. An act of wanton vandalism if you ask me. But just in case you've ever been looking for them:-
mp3 : The Smiths - Rubber Ring/Asleep