Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Terrence Stamp
The Smiths, as a rule, Morrissey in particular, dressed in ordinary street clothes, contrasting the exotic high-fashion imagery cultivated by New Romantic bands like Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran, or the costumey showmanship of Adam and the Ants. In 1986, when The Smiths performed on the British program The Old Grey Whistle Test, Morrissey wore a hearing aid to support a hearing-impaired fan ashamed of using one. He frequently sported thick-rimmed National Health Service glasses, not unlike Buddy Holly's. 

With this simplicity of character in mind, Morrissey designed the Smiths' album and single covers with Jo Slee of Rough Trade, utilizing a simple aesthetic: a duotone photo of a vintage pop star, cult hero or actor, tinted with a contrasting color for text in a sans-serif laden font. (Belle and Sebastien followed suit more recently with a similar format.) The band themselves did not appear on the outer cover of their UK releases. However, Morrissey appeared on the alternative cover shown for "What Difference Does It Make?," mimicking the pose of the original subject, actor Terence Stamp, holding a chloroform pad from the 1965 film The Collector, after the actor objected to the use of his image. Morrissey instead holds a glass of milk.

From Warhol's Flesh
The cover stars were an indication of Morrissey's personal interests in obscure or cult film stars, including Stamp, Alain Delon, Jean Marais, Warhol protégé Joe Dallesandro and James Dean, as well as figures from 1960s British and American culture, including Coronation Street actress Viv Nicholson, playwright Shelagh Delaney and Truman Capote.

The sleeve for The Smiths' eponymous debut features American actor Joe Dallesandro in a cropped still from Andy Warhol's 1968 film Flesh. In the uncropped version, Dallesandro appears to be masturbating a male co-star. The Smith's second album, Meat is Murder, featured an edited still from Emile de Antonio's 1968 documentary In the Year of the Pig. The legend on the soldier's helmet originally read "Make War Not Love," but Morrissey replaced it with his impassioned declaration of vegetarianism.  The Queen Is Dead was the third studio album by The Smiths. The album cover features French actor, Alain Delon, from the 1964 film L'Insoumis.

Billie Whitelaw, 1967, Charlie Bubbles
The sleeve for The Smith's final studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come, features a murky shot of James Dean’s East of Eden co-star Richard Davalos. Davalos is looking at James Dean, who is cropped from the image. Dean was a hero of Morrissey's, about whom the singer wrote a book called James Dean Is Not Dead. Morrissey had intended to use a still of Harvey Keitel in Martin Scorsese's I Call First, but Keitel declined to allow him use of the image. In 1991 Keitel relented, and the image was used on t-shirts and stage backdrops for Morrissey's 1991 solo tour. 

Louder Than Bombs was a compilation released as a double album in March 1987 by The Smiths' American distributor, Sire Records. The sleeve features British playwright Shelagh Delaney. The photograph was originally published in the Saturday Evening Post after Delaney, at the age of 19, had made a striking literary debut with her play A Taste of Honey. The play inspired many early lyrics written by Morrissey, particularly the song "This Night Has Opened My Eyes."

Viv Nicholson - "Spend, Spend, Spend"