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Release date: 28 June 1986
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. The Queen Is Dead/Take Me Back to Dear Old Blightly (medley) 2. Frankly, Mr. Shankly 3. I Know It’s Over 4. Never Had No One Ever 5. Cemetry Gates 6. Bigmouth Strikes Again (5/31/86, #26 UK) 7. The Boy with the Thorn in His Side (10/5/85, #23 UK) 8. Vicar in a Tutu 9. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out (10/24/92, #25 UK) 10. Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
Sales (in millions): 0.85 US, 0.1 UK, 0.95 world (includes US and UK)
Peak: 70 US, 2 UK
Review: “The original kings of British mope rock could have earned that title on the basis of this album alone.” RS “The Smiths typify one of the classic oppositional dynamics that define many rock bands.” TM “The poet born Steven Patrick Morrissey spills out his elegant melancholy” EW and offers “waspish observations on the British obsession with social propriety and its appetite for juicy scandal,” PR all the while backed by the “much scruffier” TM “liquid lead guitar of janglemaster Johnny Marr.” EW “Marr and the rhythm section blaze trails toward an idealized zone of rock (and sometimes pop) sunshine. Their runaway exuberance magnifies and sometimes mocks Morrissey’s gloomy desperation.” TM The mix has been described as “absolute bliss meets a razor blade.” ZS
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
Reviewer Adrian Denning called I Know It’s Over “Morrissey’s finest five minutes and forty nine seconds as a vocalist,” AD but “the epic There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” AMG “could well be the ultimate Smiths song…Critic and author Simon Goddard dubbed it ‘the national anthem of Smithdom.’” CAD “Morrissey typically manages to throw in some mordant humour amidst the euphoria” CAD with lines like “And if a double-decker bus, crashes into us / to die by your side, such a heavenly way to die / and if a ten ton truck, kills the both of us / to die by your side, the pleasure and the privilege is mine.”
Bigmouth Strikes Again/Vicar in a Tutu (live)
The album was supported by two singles (although “Light” was also released as a single six years later). Bigmouth Strikes Again is a “rampaging Stones-style rockers about saying the wrong thing,” TM complete with the “curiously empathetic line, ‘Now I know how Joan of Arc felt as the flames rose to her Roman nose and her Walkman started to melt’).” TM “While that “was largely Johnny’s show,” AD “the wistful The Boy With The Thorn in His Side.” AMG is “Morrissey’s time to shine. Both support each other.” AD
The Boy with the Thorn in His Side
The album marked the group’s “great leap forward, taking the band to new musical and lyrical heights.” AMG This “is the album that best captures the droll humor and musical extravagances that made the Smiths so riveting.” TM It “defined their times and gave us one of the greatest songwriting partnerships there’s EVER been.” CAD “This album is among the best the ‘80s pop scene had to offer and a remarkable achievement of musical artistry.” RV “The Smiths’ success brought about a resurgence of guitar-led pop in Britain after a period dominated by synthesizers.” TB They “made it possible for future independent acts such as Oasis and The Stone Roses to break into the mainstream.” PR “Forget Her Majesty — on The Queen Is Dead the Smiths simply slay us all.” EW
Resources and Related Links:
- DMDB page for The Queen Is Dead
- The Smiths’ DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
- AMG All Music Guide review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- CAD Cool Album of the Day review by Stephen Dalrymple
- AD Adrian Denning
- EW Entertainment Weekly The New Classics: Music (6/18/2007)
- TM Tom Moon (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York, NY.
- RV The Review “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” by Clarke Speicher (October – November 2001; Vol. 128: numbers 12-23).
- PR Paul Roland (2001). CD Guide to Pop & Rock. B.T. Batsford LTD: London. Pages 228-9.
- RS Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
- TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Page 233.
- ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY.