Lawrence Watson - The Smiths
There are many reasons to mourn the demise of a competitive weekly music press, but none more so than the loss of so much editorially-driven photography. Think of just about any of your favourite artist shots - whether from a gig or studio session - from the 1970s until about the mid-1990s, and there's a good chance it was commissioned for one of the inkies. That loss, alongside what feels like an industry-wide blanding (who were the last home-grown band who took a good photo? The Libertines maybe?) is further illustrated when presented with images of one of the most iconic British pop groups, The Smiths.
Lawrence Watson shot several Smiths sessions, in particular for the NME, and continued to work with Morrissey at the start of his solo career. His new book, simply called The Smiths, gathers all those shots together, and will be a welcome addition for Smiths/Moz bibliophiles.
Morrissey and Johnny Marr were, of course, students of pop and understood the importance of image and Watson's photos helped cement their Northern outsider cool in the context of their Manchester roots. Fans will be familiar with sessions at Salford Lads Club, or the shots of Morrissey with football pools winner Viv Nicholson, although they may be a little frustrated at the smaller size of some of the contact sheet out-takes that fill many of the pages.
Text is minimal: Watson talks a little about his relationship with the band, and of how he got into the profession in the first place, but this is primarily a book of photographs and not a personal reminiscence.
At fewer than 120 pages, The Smiths is likely to be an indulgence for casual fans, but for The Smiths and Morrissey fan in your life who has everything, this makes for quite a nice little stocking filler.
The Smiths is published by Foruli Codex with an RRP of £20.00