Released today in 1984: What Difference Does It Make?

Rough Trade RT146

Rough Trade RT146

In addition to the Smash Hits cover acts, there is another roll call from the 1980s of the famous and obscure that needs mentioning on If You Were There: Morrissey’s eclectic roster of “cover stars” (he first used this phrase on the cover of second single This Charming Man – see RT136 in the table below) who adorned the sleeves of the records issued by his band The Smiths. “From the beginning, all the artwork was conceived and controlled by Morrissey, whose instinct for presentation was unerring,” remembers Rough Trade Production Manager Jo Slee. “With a sensualist’s eye for colour and line, he explored the complexities of visualisation; from a hoard of assembled images came the inspiration for each new design. He was always appreciative of the end result, at times seeming almost astonished to see his own ideas made concrete.” 1

Not all were famous people: some appeared in pictures that caught Morrissey’s eye and were brought to public attention unnamed. But most were recognizable – for instance, actor Terence Stamp, who was chosen for the sleeve of What Difference Does It Make?. The image is still from the 1965 movie The Collector; Stamp, as sinister protagonist Freddie Clegg, is holding a chloroform-soaked pad to use to subdue one of his victims. Although Rough Trade secured permission from the film’s distributors to use the picture, Stamp objected to his image being used and a new sleeve was printed depicting Morrissey recreating the original pose, but holding a pint glass filled with milk instead of the drugged pad. Eventually, Stamp relented and the original sleeve was reinstated. What difference does it make? About £30 on eBay for a mint condition copy: the Morrissey version is far rarer and commands a higher price.

Cover Stars of The Smiths’ UK Singles:

Cat no. Cover star Notes
RT198 Avril Angers 1918-2005, comedienne and actress; the picture is from the film The Family Way. Originally, RT198 was to have been Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before with a sleeve featuring actor and singer-songwriter Murray Head from the same movie, but an unfortunate lyric meant it would have been insensitive to release it to radio when the Hungerford massacre had only recently taken place. The track was released as a single elsewhere in Europe though, with the Murray Head sleeve.
RT166 Billie Whitelaw 1932-2014, actress. The picture is from the film Charlie Bubbles, a source of considerable inspiration for images to Morrissey.
RT200 Billy Fury 1940-1983, born Ronald Wycherley, a prolific hit maker in the 1960s. Rheumatic fever suffered as a child led to poor health in adulthood and ultimately to his premature death.
RT196 Candy Darling c1944-1974, Trans actress born James Slattery brought to public attention by Andy Warhol. She had a cameo in his film Flesh which starred Joe Dallesdandro, who appeared on the cover of The Smiths’ debut album. She is the Candy who “came out from on the island” in Lou Reed’s classic Walk On The Wild Side.
RT195 Elvis Presley 1935-1977, the ‘King of Rock N’ Roll’. The lead track on RT195 was originally to have been You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby; some copies with that A-side made it into the shops and are now collectors’ items.
RT192 James Dean 1931-1955, actor and American cultural icon. He died aged 24 in a car crash.
RT136 Jean Marais 1913-1998, French writer, sculptor and actor with over 100 TV and film credits.
RT181 Pat Phoenix 1923-1986, one of the first actresses cast in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street. Morrissey interviewed her for Blitz magazine in May 1985.
RT193 Richard Bradford 1937-, American actor and star of 60s ITC show Man In A Suitcase.
RT176Sean Barrett 1940-, British actor, voice artist and former child star.
RT197 Shelagh Delaney 1938-2011, British dramatist. She also appeared on the cover of The Smiths’ compilation album Louder Than Bombs.
RT191 Truman Capote 1924-1984, American screenplay writer and novelist. A cover featuring footballer George Best was planned for the sleeve of RT191, but Best declined.
RT156 Viv Nicholson 1936-, Pools winner who said she would “spend, spend, spend” her fortune. A musical of her life story using that quote as its title opened in the late 90s, starring Barbara Dickson as Viv. The first choice for cover star for RT156 was actor Albert Finney in a still from the film Saturday Night, Sunday Morning but his agents wrote to advise Rough Trade that “Mr Albert Finney is not willing to consent to the use of his likeness in the manner you describe”.
RT194 Yootha Joyce 1927-1980, jobbing actress (she had a minor role in the previously mentioned Charlie Bubbles) who found fame in 1970s in sitcom. She died shortly after a feature film of her show George and Mildred was made; her liver failed followed years of excessive drinking which she had successfully hidden from friends and colleagues.

1 Slee, Jo. “Introduction”, Peepholism. Into The Art Of Morrissey, Sidgwick and Jackson Limited, 1994.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Jan. 20
ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN (Ian McCulloch) Killing Moon (Korova KOW32)
Nick KERSHAW Wouldn’t It Be Good (MCA NIK2)
The SMITHS (Morrissey) What Difference Does It Make? (Rough Trade RT146)
BEASTIE BOYS She’s On It (Def Jam A6686)
MADNESS Sweetest Girl (Zarjazz JAZZ8)
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD (John Lydon) Rise (Virgin VS841)
SIMPLE MINDS Sanctify Yourself (Virgin SM1)
Midge URE Wastelands (Chrysalis URE3)


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