Review: The Smiths

M reviews a collection of rare and unseen photographs of iconic 80s guitar act The Smiths compiled by former NME photographer Lawrence Watson.

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 15 Oct 2013
  • min read
The music of The Smiths - Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce - defined guitar music in the 80s and inspired countless imitators and pretenders to their throne.

It’s testament to the quality of their output that few acts have managed to scale the same glorious heights of musical innovation and lyrical wit and anger as the band.

Over 25 years later and the Smiths are still held in great reverence and while there’s little chance of a reunion, any new documentation or revelations surrounding the group are always met with great excitement. So it goes with The Smiths, a collection of rare and unseen photos of the band from former NME photographer Lawrence Watson.

Lawrence was in the enviable position of being able to take a peek into the band’s inner circle with his camera and snap the group during various stages of their career.

The majority of the photos collected within the book are unseen and capture the group at various locations in their home city and beyond, including outside the iconic Salford Lads’ Club. Many of the images printed here in stark black and white are of Morrissey in various poses. While he dominates the book, there's a playfulness which has perhaps been lacking in the singer we’ve read about in the press in recent years. Here you can see him frolicking with a cat or posing with a bottle of washing up liquid. It shows off a sense of humour to Morrissey which is often over-looked.

If you’re a keen fan of The Smiths, you’ll find plenty of visual insight here on the band and their dynamics. Their look, style and the various tensions are all on display in Lawrence's candid shots. Plus Lawrence’s comments add even more colour to the story of a great, era-defining group.

The Smiths by Lawrence Watson is available now in paperback by Foruli Codex priced at £20.

Visit the Foruli Codex website.