Sound — 10
In the early '80s, The Smiths appeared out of nowhere. They appeared to not be influenced by any of the great bands of the '70s; not punk, not heavy rock, not prog was to be found anywhere in their music. Unlike the other great mancunian bands of the time they weren't necessarily for the people; at least the lyrics don't suggest as much (Morrisey's self-centred, self-pitying comedic masterpieces of lyrical grace hardly say much for the impoverished working class of Manchester). On paper they should appeal to lonesome, bookish, donnish men. But history has proved that this is far from true. The Smiths stand on a platform of their own in the '80s and only their many contempories can stand near them at their corner of great modern music-making. So to describe the sound of their masterpiece, The Queen Is Dead, comparisons can hardly be used. Marr's wizard guitar work is quite original, managing to be both contemporary and yet struck a chord (ignore disgraceful pun) with pop culture. The Queen Is Dead has the songs and the correct balance of songs to be considered a classic. It has the ballads: brilliant and dolorous yet injected with humour, 'I Know It's Over' and 'There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out' are among The Smith's best. It has rocking songs such as the delightful 'Bigmouth Strikes Again' and folk songs such as 'Cemetry Gates', my personal favourite. The title track is an epic rant and the most political song on the album. For humour every song is fantastic and 'Vicar In A Tutu' illustrates Morrisey at his most frivolous. Basically it is a beast.
Lyrics — 10
I could fill a book with great Morrisey lyrics and the Queen Is Dead is certainly him at his lyrical best. His undying wit and observation echoes supreme and is the highlight of the album. It is a great task for me to just pick a few examples but my personal favourites are: 'Frankly, mr Shankley, since you ask, you are a flatulent pain in the arse, I don't mean to be so rude, still I must speak frankly, Mr Shankley give us money.' 'Sweetness I was only joking when I said, Id like to smash every tooth in your head and by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed.' Genious. Morrisey's voice, entirely unique and basically essential to the lyrics, wails triumphantly throughout with plenty of ohohwohs thrown in for good measure.
Overall Impression — 10
Although, like many great British bands, they never really had a lot of success in the US, The Smiths remain one of the greatest bands of all time. Highly influencial on British bands thereafter, especially of the Britpop era, they are credited as being pioneers of Indie music. 'There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out' is arguably the best Smiths' song and is often appraised as being a classic and a highlight of the songs of the '80s. Morrisey's famous inability to love and his 'criminally vulgar' shyness is expressed rather wonderfully in the confused and lost and awkward expression of his strained affection for a girl: 'If a double decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die'. It is this song which exemplifies the reason why Morrisey still commands a diehard legion of fans. I wish I could find a flaw in the album but unfortunately I am one the diehardfans and I quite adore The Queen Is Dead through and through.