ARTIST: The Smiths
TITLE: The Queen Is Dead
YEAR RELEASED: 1986
CHART ACTION: #70 US, #2 UK
SINGLES: The Boy with the Thorn in His Side (#49 US Dance, #23 UK), Bigmouth Strikes Again (#26 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Queen Is dead, Cemetry Gates, There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
LINEUP: Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Smiths reach their pinnacle, uniting band performance, Marr’s melodies and Morrissey’s lyrics. Even the ‘filler’ is top notch.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Smiths had teased us before, writing almost complete albums with a couple of mediocre or clunkers on it, but this time they succeeded on all fronts.
Morrissey’s vocals blend well with Marr’s guitar work. Marr’s guitars are frankly stunning as each track has something to recommend in terms of guitar melodies, tone, or riffs. Joyce and Rourke definitely pull their weight as well, solidly playing with Marr and forming a definite base for the song to move through.
Are we really concerned that Morrissey’s lyrics are at times obtuse, possibly inane? Nah. His vocals are compelling and moving. This is a band effort though, song and performance working together.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: There’s some odd, high-pitched vocals on two tracks. It’s Morrissey’s vocals sped up, and credited to “Ann Coates”
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes! A huge re-release with demos and live cuts.
GRADE: A+: All of the tracks are strong. This album grows on you, too. It’s a classic.