Designed by Andy Vella, the book design aims to replicate the sensation of flicking through a vinyl album sleeve.
‘I wanted the book to give the same sensation I used to get when you buy an album, put on your headphones and flick through the gatefold cover,’ says Vella.
The designer is certainly no stranger to creating such pieces. Vella has worked on most album designs for The Cure, as well as for numerous other artists such as Jeff Buckley and Pavement, for whom he helped create the cover for the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain album alongside frontman Stephen Malkmus.
He has worked with The Smiths publisher Foruli as art director and consultant for the past three years.
The square-format paperback marks 25 years since Watson’s final shoot with The Smiths frontman Morrissey, and showcases images of the band including many previously unseen photographs, all captioned with explanatory notes from the photographer.
‘With a photographic book I’m almost becoming the curator as much as the designers’, says Vella. ‘I don’t want to mess with the photographer’s photographs. The viewer should enjoy the photograph without a designer being self indulgent – you have to see the photography, not the design.’
Using Futura typeface and a predominantly monochrome and red colour palette, the book looks to subtly emulate the less-than-chipper outlook proffered in The Smiths’ music.
‘The majority of the pictures are black and white, and I feel that with books – as with album covers – they should have a concept’, Vella explains.
’With book design you have to keep the pace correct. I kept it quite dark as a lot of the pictures are taken in the winter in Manchester, so it looks quite moody. The Smiths’ lyrics aren’t really joyful – the poetry certainly makes you think – so I was trying to replicate that mood.’
Eagle-eyed fans – or Manchester-natives – will be able to spot locations including the Albert Finney store on Oldham Road, the Piccadilly Hotel and Salford Lads Club.
The book’s cover image uses a striking red and black photograph, showing The Smiths’ charismatic front man Morrissey pointing an upside-down gun at his brow.
Following the line of the gun, the ‘the’ has been reversed.
‘It looked too obvious the right way round’, muses Vella. ‘It’s amazing that you automatically read it as “the”, even though it’s backwards.’
The Smiths is published on 12 August by Foruli Codex priced £14.99