Classic Album - The Queen Is Dead - The Smiths
By the time of The Queen is Dead, The Smiths had become the most important band in British rock since The Jam.
Their self-titled debut album had propelled them into the public consciousness and suggested their potential. Their coruscating follow-up, Meat Is Murder, had made them the nation's number one alternative rock act. It channelled rockabilly, indie and funk influences against Morrissey's miserabilist lyrics. It also persuaded a million impressionable sixth formers to turn to vegetarianism. Their third album,The Queen Is Dead, was their high point. Singer and lyricist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr and producer Stephen Street were working in unison. They had a shared vision and redefined the rock landscape.
The album was packed with exceptional songs. The Queen Is Dead; Frankly, Mr Shankly; Bigmouth Strikes Again; and Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others – all evidence the copper-bottomed brilliance of the Morrissey/Marr partnership.
Marr's guitar playing smacked of genius. Jangly refrains the likes of which hadn't previously been heard spawned a thousand inferior copycats. Gene, Marion and many others were waiting in line.
The album was brilliantly witty, ferociously intelligent and devastatingly acerbic. Morrissey eschewed the conventional iron-fist-in-velvet-glove approach to lyricism, instead dosing his listeners with neat acid. He was unafraid to raise the bar. The trite, mundane lyrics of that age withered against his literate confections.
He fused art – Oscar Wilde, Derek Jarman, Shelagh Delaney and Elizabeth Smart – with populist tunes. Few, not even the marvellously inventive Jarvis Cocker, have since matched his achievements. The Queen Is Dead was the pinnacle of indie rock.
Never before – and certainly not since – has there been an alternative album that has spoken so directly to the nation's disaffected youth.
It was a key influence for Britpop – his Lordship, Sir Noel Gallagher, of Oasisshire, was among many to have covered the peerless There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.
The vinyl grooves of the album version nicked a quote from Oscar Wilde: 'Talent borrows, genius steals'. Morrissey and Marr, the magpies of indie rock, had the latter.
Download these: Bigmouth Strikes Again, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
By Andy Richardson