“Who’s that bloke with the flowers and woman’s blouse? He’s rubbish. He can’t even sing.”
And so was my appraisal of the Smiths performing What Difference Does It Make? on the 26th of January 1984 edition of Top Of The Pops. A thursday, of course. Thursday night was Top Of The Pops night. No doubt I was doing my art homework as I watched with mum, dad, my brother and our dog. Somehow, I’d entirely missed their previous performances on the much-loved show. However, the more I heard WDDIM, the more I liked it. And after I liked it, I loved it. It remains my favourite song to this day, and the Smiths are still my favourite band. Others come and go, but I always go back to Morrissey, Marr, Rourke and Joyce (and Gannon if you want to be picky). To a bespectacled bookworm like me, growing up in a very economically depressed North, I could relate to a lot of their lyrics. Their cover art really put the hook in me. Billy Fury, Shelagh Delaney, Vivian Nicholson, James Dean, Pat Phoenix. Jurgen Vollmer’s photo of young rockers at a funfair in Hamburg. Nobody else had really done anything like them. I think I can trace my love of photography back to those images, as well as other interests like the works of Alan Bennett, steamy old cafes, decrepit shops, the seaside and er, George Formby.
One of the internet’s best reads I Like has a link to Vulgar Picture, an illustrated Smiths discography. As far as i can tell, it has every variant of the Smiths album and single artwork, and more besides. Brilliant.