It is incredible to think that The Smiths were together for just five short years. In that time they managed to release four official albums, a few compilations of sessions, singles and oddities and of course, a run of some of the most amazing and unique 45s ever.
And one of the things that made The Smiths’ singles and albums so special was there sleeves. Handpicked mostly by Morrissey, they feature a series of cover stars most of whom dated from the late 50s and early 60s, and for Smiths fans they gave an real insight into the singer’s world – who his heroes were and the influences that shaped him.
Some of those cover stars were familiar, like Yootha Joyce, the star of two very successful seventies sit-coms. Others like French actor Jean Marais from Jean Cocteau’s 1949 film Orphée, were a bit more obscure.
Not surprisingly quite a number of the stars featured in British films from the 60s, so I have rounded up those covers and attempted to give a little more information about the films they came from. Most of them are very watchable – a couple of them are classics.
I have added YouTube links to each one. Two of the films are available in a full version on YouTube, the rest are clips and trailers.
Click on for the gallery and links.
Singles - Yield To the Night
I always thought that Morrissey's obsession with Diana Dors was a bit of an odd one. For before her death in 1984 she was best known in Britain as a chat show guest, quiz show panelist and occasional brassy blonde in second rate British movies (coughs Adventures of a Taxi Driver). However when I saw the film that features on The Smiths singles collection it all made sense. For there was a movement to make real life earthy British message dramas in the late fifties and Yield To The Night is a classic of that genre. Dors gives a superb performance (both she and Moz rate this as her only worthwhile movie) as Mary Hilton, a shop girl who shoots the woman who drove her lover to suicide. The film has all kinds of weird parallels to the Ruth Ellis case which occurred at the time the movie was begin made. Ultimately it makes a pretty compelling case against the death penalty which was removed in Britain that same year. Dors' performance is central to the film and she is superb in giving the impression of a remorseful women who cares little about anything, yet still manages to tug the heart strings as she is lead away to be executed.The cover of the album features Dors in her prison room and was created without the involvement of Morrissey. As a pastiche of the covers he had created before it was pretty good.The Murder scene from the film