50 reasons to adore the smiths, 50 great record covers
August 11, 2010, 3:51 am
Filed under: 50 great record covers, 50 reasons to adore the smiths

the smiths “girlfriend in a coma” (1987), written by morrissey & marr, produced by morrissey & marr & stephen street. a stand alone single on rough trade records that was included in their next album “strangeways, here we come”. cover design: morrissey and jo slee.

today, august 10th, marks the anniversery of the last single to be released by the smiths before they uncerimoniously split up. “girlfriend in a coma” was released just prior to their upcoming album “strangeways, here we come”, and was followed later by three other singles, all culled from “strangeways” which was released only three week later on september 10, 1987. “girlfriend” was the last single to contain the usual smiths’ two extra tunes on its “b” side. morrissey wanted to release “work is a four letter word” a cover by the hopelessly untalented cilla black as the “a” side, much to johnny marr’s displeasure. this was part of the row that led to the split between the two tunesmiths. pictomat would have given morrissey a slight edge, if this was the sole reason for the breakup. “work is a four letter word” as covered by the smiths, fit ever so comfortably into their oeuvre even though it was cover version (something that may have displeased marr), but only if one can keep miss black’s version out of one’s head.

the single is perhaps not the pinnacle of their writing career, but it is a more than serviceable tune, and quite jaunty despite its gloomy title. as with every proceeding smiths’ single it also included another non-album track, the last song the smiths ever recorded, “i’ll keep mine hidden”. all said the package was another pleasing outing giving no hint of the troubled train-wreck that permanently derailed the group. between the time “girlfriend” was released and before their new and soon to be last studio album was in the racks, rumblings in the press told of their imminent breakup. that hasty affair did occur before the album’s release, shattering fans around the world.

however, the smiths released this single housed, as always, in a sleeve designed by morrissey with the help of jo slee, a graphic artist. the smiths, themselves, never appeared on a single or album cover in their entire career and all singles were released without a song title. only albums had titles. every true smith fan can probably name the title of the single just by looking as its cover star. “girlfriend in a coma” has morrissey’s favorite playwright the british writer shelagh delaney at its cover star. she had previously appeared on a compilation album “louder than bombs”. she wrote the play that later became what is known as a british kitchen sink film titled “a taste of honey” about a young unmarried mother and her gay best friend. the back of the cover always named the star, and the band with simple headings such as the voice: morrissey or the guitar: johnny marr. some of the records had secret sayings etched into their grooves after the song slid into the center of the disc. pictimat can’t plow through its library to see if one exists on this particular record, but an example of some are “are you loathsome tonite” or “tomb it may concern”. these little touches, unnoticed by mere listeners,  endeared the smiths to their legions of fanatic followers. pictomat, was, and still is one of the biggest. this day, some 23 years ago, pictomat was in the very city that the smiths put on the map, manchester, england reading about their pending doom in the brit music rag “the new musical express”. it was a sad day then, and tinges of it remain behind today.


50 amazing faces, 50 best voices, 50 reasons to adore the smiths, 50 famous fags

morrissey (steven patrick morrissey), musician. born: manchester, england (1959)

50 forgotten songs, 50 best voices, 50 reasons to adore the smiths, 50 famous fags

morrissey (steven patrick morrissey), musician. born: manchester, england (1959)

lead singer of the only band in the world to have a perfect record of perfect records. morrissey split with writing partner johnny marr and his fellow smiths and within a mere six months released his first solo album. his solo career has outlasted the short four years with the fabled foursome, and is currently going on year 22. however, that career has been tenuous at best. the early solo years (1988 – 1991) provided some of the same satisfaction for his old fans, but the exquisite carefulness of each smith release was always a problem for morrissey to achieve without the superb marr writing the melodies. it is unfortunate that the last of his truly great songs barely made the charts.

“my love life” by morrissey with “additional harmonies by chrissie hynde” (1991, written by morrissey & mark nevin, and produced by clive langer & alan winstanley. released as a stand alone single in september. released on the compilation album “the world of morrissey” in 1995 on his master voice / hmv records).

morrissey’s wistful “my love life” came at the end of a spotty collection of singles and albums that could at times compete with the high mark the smiths had left behind. the wrangley rickenbacher guitar harkened back to marr’s trademark sound, the mournful lyrics were much sparser than the dense wordplay of lyrics morrissey dished out so easily for the smiths, but even the simple repeated lines echoed the best of his first and only band.

“come on to my house, come on and do something new, i know you love one person so, why can’t you love two?”

that is about it for the lyrics. morrissey left behind, begging and wondering ambiguously if the person of his current infatuation can love more than himself (or perhaps have two boyfriends?). the melody is repetitious too, and who knows what the song would sound like without the “additional harmonies” (as morrissey credits miss hynde) as hynde’s voice vibrates wordlessly on each chorus on a song that sounds like a mixture of the best of the smiths’ and the pretenders’ mashed together. but a hit? it wasn’t. it never charted in the u.s. and barely in the u.k. it did, however, make it to number 6 in ireland. give the enchantingly sad song a view on youTube.

50 notes for 2010: miss hynde, 50 best voices, 50 amazing faces, 50 reasons to adore the smiths

chrissie hynde, musician. born: akron, ohio (1951)

left this country as soon as she could, and headed to the town where everything was happening, london. worked for vivienne westwood, punk designer, wrote reviews for new musical express and finally started her own band. the pretenders have always really been all about chrissie, although its first incantation will always be remembered as the band that created “that” sound. the eye shadow she stole from dusty springfield, her first hit “stop you’re sobbing” she borrowed from the future father of one of her children, ray davies of the kinks, but everything else was her creation, including her trademark vibrato. johnny marr of the smiths was in her band and co-wrote a few tunes with her in the late 1980’s and she sang back up on morrissey’s “my love life”.

tickets go on sale this friday for her newest adventure, a new album with a man half her age, and a new name for her group “j.p., chrissie, and the fairground boys”. the concert is in october at the roseland and while the group moniker seems purposefully gangly the new song is not. check out “if you let me” on youTube. the album is released later this month. not bad for an almost 60 year old mother of two, and long time defiant animal rights’ activist.

50 amazing faces, 50 damned good writers, fifty reasons to adore the smiths

dame edith sitwell, writer, born scarborough, england (1887 – 1964), photo: cecil beaton

quoting a piece of poetry from the eccentric dame sitwell from a commenter:

CAME the great popinjay
smelling his nosegay:
in cages like grots
the birds sang gavottes.
‘herodiade’s flea
was named sweet Amanda,
she danced like a lady
from here to uganda.

morrissey of the smiths was so taken with this strange and wonderful creature that he used a giant projected picture of her in concerts and made her the cover star of his concert programs.