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Cover art: The Smiths – Hatful Of Hollow (1984)

February 24th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Smiths released their debut LP, and seven months later a compilation. How”s that for audacity?  Hatful Of Hollow included singles, their b-sides and BBC session versions of songs from the eponymous debut album (and, it must be said, the BBC session tracks are not all superior). It was just the first of several albums featuring repackaged Smiths material (The World Won”t Listen, Louder Than Bombs etc)

Line up Smiths covers “” LPs and singles “” and you”ll get a quite lovely gallery of photographic character studies, of people well-known and obscure. Some might be described as homoerotic, but I reject  its generalised (mis)application, as meaningless, misleading and, indeed, homophobic. Suffice it to say that The Smiths had no hang-ups about featuring attractive young men on their covers. The individual on the cover photo of Hatful Of Hollow, taken by Gilles Decroix, is one Fabrice Colette, who is sporting a tattoo of a drawing by the French writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau.

As we know, The Smiths were beloved by students. The cover design hints at the slapdash quality of the amateur designer, with the band featuring the title and the artist’s name’s legend pasted on skew, and the 6pt letraline rule not centred. The shoddiness, which may or may not have been deliberate, adds to the non-corporate, Indie charm.

hatful-re-releaseOn the original cover “” the one I would hang on my wall “” the photo of Colette is inset to a blue, almost cyan, background. When the album was re-released in 1987, the blue background was ditched, and the image cropped “” minus the Cocteau tattoo. Happily, the horizontal alignment of the type remains skew, albeit less conspicuously than on the original. The look of the reissue cover is more in keepoing with the style of subsequent Smiths cover art “” and yet I prefer the big blue frame of the original cover, clumsy design and all, as a reminder of how fresh, raw and unspoiled by expectations The Smiths were in those early days.

The Smiths – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.mp3
The Smiths ““ Hand In Glove (single version).mp3

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  1. February 25th, 2009 at 17:42 | #1

    Never seen that original sleeve before, but it does work better. Then again, full album art always looks better than tiny CD covers – I reckon that’s the major thing we lost with vinyl.

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