The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (Cover Artwork)

The Smiths

The Smiths: The Queen Is DeadThe Queen Is Dead (1986)
Rough Trade

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

Contributed by: eatdogseatdogs
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"Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty", a sound bite from the 1962 British film, The L Shaped Room, starts off the title track from this classic, and arguably best album by the Smiths, The Queen Is Dead. Frontman Morrissey's fascination with '60s British cinema was often used as layers, and it bleeds ou.
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"Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty", a sound bite from the 1962 British film, The L Shaped Room, starts off the title track from this classic, and arguably best album by the Smiths, The Queen Is Dead. Frontman Morrissey's fascination with '60s British cinema was often used as layers, and it bleeds out quickly as the track bursts forth with the energetic drumming of Mike Joyce and the guitars of Johnny Marr. The so-called punkness of the Smiths comes forth, never ceasing until the very end of its almost seven-minute length. This era is highly touted as the peak of the band's career, what with two amazing albums such as this and the predecessor, Meat Is Murder. For many years, these albums have been studied, befriended, loved, hated, buried, dug up, and refreshed in the queues of many people. The complete fascination and affectionate dedication to the mope-rock that the Smiths made is sheer madness in the eyes of the bewildered. Of course, the fans couldn't give a flip in that regard.

Morrissey never sounded better than he did on this album. Tracks like the elegant and dramatic "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out", the frustrated and seedy "Bigmouth Strikes Again", and the intimate "I Know It's Over" stand out as the showcasing of a talented frontman backed up by wonderful musicians. The interesting track is the mentioned bigmouth. Morrissey's background vocals are sped up and the acoustic guitars mix well with Marr's awesome post-punk squeal. Also of note is the great bass work of Andy Rourke, a guy who was sacked after making the album, then eventually let back right before its release. The Edge must have studied these guys (and Joy Division), because U2 sure did ape this stuff back in their scruffy beginnings. Anyway, nothing but greatness can be said about the rest of the tracks. Marr and the gang were the Smiths just as much as Morrissey, and the musicianship gelled within the confines of this sad/happy music.

"Vicar in a Tutu" is charming because it's almost a rockabilly tune. Marr seems to pull off a weird country pluck twang in the groove of a well-mastered punk flow. Morrissey also seems to be having fun on the track, the singing representing a guy having wit and Sinatra leanings. "Croon" might be the word to best describe his vocal approach, and that can fit on just about every song here. And with no exception, the highlight of the album is a light that never goes out. It's just pure pop done right, and with interestingly catchy lyrics such as: "And if a 10-ton truck kills the both of us / to die by your side / the pleasure / the privilege is mine." It's an angsty, almost journalistic story brought forth by a grown-assed man who is relishing in his desires. A bit too dramatic...but nonetheless greatly done.

In 2003, Morrissey claimed the song "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side" as his favorite. Marr stated it as "an effortless piece of music." The meaning behind the track deals with the band's displeasure of the music industry that failed to appreciate them. This might come off as self-righteous and arrogant, but it's the Smiths we're talking about here. Later years this habit would manifest itself into parody, with people rolling their eyes to the drama queen spectacles. But let's not take for granted the seriousness of the band's testament to basic anti-establishment philosophies, Morrissey being the most outspoken. This radical style was ignored in the '90s Britpop explosion in lieu of money-making, but those bands sure did love the style of the Smiths. Thus, the band stands out as a figurehead in art and independent thinking, but always to be copied and dragged over.

A perfect album is questionable and very hard to come by; reviews these days throw out perfect scores like free grab bags. To take music seriously, labeling an album as "perfect" is a risky risk of epic proportions that often leads to one shooting him/herself in the foot. Not to be taken for granted, the perfect score can be a trump card to get people riled up, or just an elephant in the room. A depressing, self-deprecating album hidden behind great pop leanings, The Queen Is Dead stands atop this mount as either/or. Take it for what you will, but this is a damn fine album by any means.

"It's a pity you didn't sign the Smiths..."??God speaking to Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People


People who liked this also liked:
The Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsJawbreaker - Dear YouThe Clash - London CallingThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Flatliners - CavalcadeThe Smiths - Strangeways, Here We ComeThe Smiths - The Smiths

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Banger (September 25, 2011)

There is definitely a very strong Joy Division influence apparent in the first U2 album.

thepopeofchili-town (September 25, 2011)

I'm surprised we didn't have a review for this already. One of the best albums ever.

Banger (September 25, 2011)

One of my favorite albums growing up in the 80s. It has aged much better than I have.

DrGunn (September 25, 2011)

u2 were definitely influenced by JD. i remember reading something about how bono told tony wilson that he was going to go for the title of best frontman in the world after ian died.

slowstupidhungry (September 25, 2011)

I imagine U2 heard all of those early post-punk bands... To me, their early stuff sounds like "radio" post-punk. The one thing that's always stuck out to me is the guitar work on "Public Image." I think Edge or the Edge or whatever the fuck made a career out of that one song.

eatdogs (September 24, 2011)

"I hate U2, but they were around before the Smiths and by the mid-80's were well beyond any "scruffy beginnings."

You know what, your absolutely right. I shouldn't have said that. But I do still believe in my Joy Division statement, seeing as how it was admitted by the edge. And yeah, I have no shame in admitting my love for U2. I guess I had an "agenda" against someone when writing this review since its a beast of an album. The Joshua Tree is my all time favorite album. Minus punk points for me...

slowstupidhungry (September 24, 2011)

I hate U2, but they were around before the Smiths and by the mid-80's were well beyond any "scruffy beginnings."

Skibz777 (September 24, 2011)

I personally don't get the appeal, but hey, the kids like it, so who am I to judge?

i-like-food (September 24, 2011)

Incredible album. Morrissey is an idiot, but got-damn he wrote some fantastic music.

DrGunn (September 23, 2011)

though actually i don't think it's perfect. vicar in a tutu and some girls are bigger than others are not on the same level as the other 8 songs, in that they're good but not amazing. but a few chinks in the armor don't mean much when the overall product is this good.

DrGunn (September 23, 2011)

one of the greatest albums of all time. if you don't like it, eat a dick.

sundowning10 (September 23, 2011)

Probably my favorite album ever.

oldpunkerforever (September 23, 2011)

classic, anyone that says otherwise is either lying or insane-oldpunker-

eatdogs (September 23, 2011)

yeah, i have come to conclusion that this is my favorite smiths album. thanks for posting this!!!

r3vengetherapy (September 23, 2011)

Good review. This is my default choice for "favorite record ever." Whoever would call this anything but their best record is seriously misinformed. Hell, even Marr knows it. He said in an interview something about how this is one of the few records that breaks the creative cieling, and he's 100% correct. It's astounding when a band writes an LP that doesn't limit itself creatively, yet still sounds like a totally cohesive piece of work. It also happens to contain a ton of Morrissey's more memorable lyrics, of which is has many. "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" is absolutely one of the greatest songs ever written. I could go on...

essenceoftong (September 23, 2011)

one of the many great bands given airtime in their infancy by the legendary john peel.

the current music scene misses him greatly

kidgotham (September 23, 2011)

God, I love this album.

Good review, by the way.

inagreendase (September 23, 2011)

I could never understand why anyone would say this isn't their best album.

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