The Smiths. Top 10 Artistic Slevees.
The Smiths never wanted to appear on their artwork. Morrisey preferred to parade his pop culture heroes on record sleeves instead. Off # Rock selected 10 album and single slevees and their meanings show The Smiths' creativity.
See, listen and enjoy!
This Charming Man
Here's French swashbuckling actor Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais, in a still from Jean Cocteau's film Orpheus. “We’re interested in beauty because it can be very positive. It’s good to be associated with non-violent things; we’d rather it was Cocteau instead of broken bottles, or any other kind of garishness” said Morrissey in an interview with The Sunday. The Smiths released two video for this song. The first recorded in Britain tv show, The Tube, showing the band that sing in a empty room. The second video was released during the Riverside tv show, here the band singing in a room with the floor strewn with flowers and Morrisey brandishing a bunch of gladioli.
Although only moderately successful on first release—the single peaked at number 25 on the British singles chart, This Charming Man has been widely praised in both the music and mainstream press. The single was re-issued in 1992, reaching number 8 on the UK singles chart (making it The Smiths' biggest UK hit by chart position). Mojo magazine journalists placed the track at number 1 on their 2008 "50 Greatest UK Indie Records of All Time" feature.
What Difference Does It Make?
The single cover is is a photograph taken on the set of the film The Collector (but not depicted in the actual film). Originally Terence Stamp, the actor of the film, denied permission for the still to be used, and some pressings featured lead singer Morrissey in a re-enacted scene. Original image shows Stamp holding a cloroform pad, in the re-enactment Morrissey reproduced Stamp's pose, although the chloroform pad is gone, and replaced by a more wholesome glass of milk instead.
Eventually, however, Stamp changed his mind, and the covers featuring Morrissey are now very rare and collectible. This song was released without an accompanying music video. Speaking to Tony Fletcher on The Tube, Morrissey remarked that he felt that the video market was something that was going to "die very quickly", and that he wanted to "herald the death" of it.
Morrissey has stated that "What Difference Does It Make?" is among his least favourite Smiths songs.However, it became one of the band's first significant
chart hits, peaking at No. 12 in the UK.
Barbarism Begins At Home
This single bears the image of Viv Nicholson, although her friendship with Morrissey would soon sour: in later life she became a Jehovah Witness, and she objected to the band using her image for a reissue of 'The Headmaster Ritual. 'Barbarism Begins At Home' talks about domestic child abuse.
The single from the album Meat Is Murder had an initial limited release in Germany and Italy in April 1985. Although not originally released as a single in the UK, it later got a release there as a CD single in 1988. The song is known for its channelling of funk influences.
See the exhibion live at the Tube.
That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
This cover shows an unknown child actor from Russian film The Enchanted Desna. The band found the picture in a film magazine. Morrissey said of this single's cover star: “The eyes are encrusted with hurt and premature wisdom".
This single appears on the album Meat Is Murder, the sole track from the album to be released as a UK promotional single. The single was one of the lowest charting of The Smiths', entering and peaking in the UK singles chart at no. 49.
Morrissey disclosed that the song was a response to journalistic mockery of songwriting that dwelt "on the unhappy side of life" and to persistent attempts to expose him as a "fake." Uncut reported rumours that the song's inspiration was an "'intimate friendship' with a journalist around 1984-5"
According to Marr, the song's musical composition "just fell through the roof. It was one of those times when the feeling just falls down on you from the ceiling somewhere and it almost plays itself."
Bigmouth Strikes Again
This is a photograph of James Dean, and this time, he's riding a motorbike,
by Nelva Jean Thomas. James Dean is an idol to Morrissey, who even wrote a book about him entitled James Dean Is Not Dead.
Morrissey would later pay further tribute to the actor by filming the video for solo single 'Suedehead' in Fairmount, Indiana, which is where Dean grew up.
The lyrics describe the protagonist's frustration of being hounded by others for his comments, to which he replies "I was only joking".
It appears on their third album The Queen Is Dead and was the lead single from the album, reaching No. 26 in the UK singles chart. It was also the closing song on The Smiths' only live album, Rank.
The Queen Is Dead
This album cover designed by Morrissey, features Alain Delon from the 1964 film The Unvanquished. Morrissey reveals that Delon told him that his parents were upset that “anyone would call an album ‘The Queen Is Dead’.
The album is popularly regarded as The Smiths' best album. Its mix of jangle pop, British invasion, music hall, rockabilly and punk rock. Quickly became a British sensation and established The Smiths as one of the biggest bands of their era. The album spent twenty-two weeks on the UK albums Chart peaking at No. 2.
The Queen Is Dead has received critical acclaim, and is considered to be a defining album of the 1980's as well as one of the greatest albums of all time.
In 2006 it was named the second greatest British album of all time by NME. Q magazine placed the album at No. 3 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".
“The Queen Is Dead", which leads off the album and notably became an expressionistic music video directed by Derek Jarman, starts with a soundbite from Bryan Forbes' 1962 British film The L-Shaped Room. Another instance of Morrissey's fascination with '60s British cinema.
This cover shows Yoota Joyce an actress best known for British sitcom George and Mildred. The image used by the band in this cover is from the film Catch Us If You Can. The song was released as a single in October 1986, reaching No. 14 in the UK Singles Chart. As with most of The Smiths' singles, it was not included on an original album. It can be found on the compilations The World Won't Listen and Louder Than Bombs as well as the live album Rank, where it is introduced as the band's new single.
Shoplifters Of The World Unite
This sleeve features a photograph of a Morrissey's music idol, Elvis Presley. One of the singer's first ever press shots, it was taken in 1955 by his hairdresser. The single reached no. 12 in the UK Singles Chart.
The title alludes to the communist slogan “Workers of The world, unite!”, and the 1966 David and Jonathan hit Lovers Of The World Unite.
Morrissey explaned, in an interview the meaning of the song as follows: "It's more or less spiritual shoplifting, cultural shoplifting, taking things and using them to your own advantage."
The sleeve for Rank, once again designed by Morrisey, stars actress Alexandra Bastedo. The image is from book Birds Of Britain photographer Hohn D. Green. Just like Morrissey is, Alexandra was a committed vegetarian and advocate for animal welfare.
Rank is live album recorded on 23 October 1986 at National Ballroom, Kilburn, London. It reached no. 2 in the British Charts.
According to The Smiths biographers, Morrissey originally titled the album The Smiths in Heat. The record company objected and Morrissey proposed Rank, “as in 'J Arthur” (J. Arthur Rank is Cokney rhyming slang for “wank”).
Sheila Take A Bow
The star in this sleeve is Candy Darling from the film Women In Revolt. She is a transgender actress who became closely associated for her work with Andy Warhol, and was also a huge source of inspiration for The Velvet Underground.
Morrissey explaned why he chose this actress for the sleeve of this single and said that able to impose Candy to the public who buy the single is a perfect example of his dangerous sense of humor.
It was released as a single in 198 7 and reaching no.10 in the UK Singles Chart, the highest chart placing in their career during the band's lifetime.