Styles: College Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop
Number Of Tracks: 10
The Queen Is Dead is a harder-rocking record than anything the Smiths had attempted before, but that's only on a relative scale.
The Queen Is Dead
unregistered, on september 10, 2005 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 10
Lyrics: 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. // 10
Overall Impression: 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. // 10
The Queen Is Dead
Tombe, on october 18, 2005 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: First of all, introductions. The Smiths were a hugely influential '80s guitar pop band, who went through various changes in line-up over the years but are known best as Morrissey (vocals) Johnny Marr (guitar) Andy Rourke (bass) and Mike Joyce (drums). The Queen Is Dead is their 3rd studio album and regarded by many as their finest work. Musically, the main selling point of The Smiths is the unique guitar sound of Johnny Marr. He may be the 'last great British guitar hero' but that doesn't mean he indulges in pretentious 10-minute solos at every opportunity. Jangly Rickenbacker riffs and chiming arpeggios are his trademark, and at times he plays just as fast as any shredders could.
So, sound. The Queen Is Dead is an enormously varied album. It opens with the title track, which begins with the traditional British song 'Take me back to dear old Blighty' followed by a barrage of drums before the guitars enter for 6 minutes of funky, rhythm-heavy guitar pop - classic Marr. After a brief foray into cod-reggae for Frankly Mr Shankly, we see the other side of Marr in I Know It's Over Now. The first two minutes are sparse bass and drums with occasional 12-string chords, restraining and restraining until the first chorus, when one of the most downright beautiful guitar riffs ever written enters. A couple of tracks later, we're onto Bigmouth Strikes Again, with an enormously catchy opening riff, and the only true guitar 'solo' on the album - try playing it at the speed Johnny Marr plays it and you'll appreciate him a lot more. Then towards the end of the album comes the anthemic There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, with 12-string guitars and cheesy synth strings aplenty. So in short (well, that wasn't really short, was it?) this is an enormously varied album, whilst still managing to maintain a definitive 'sound'. // 10
Lyrics: Ah yes. I've covered Johnny Marr, now onto Morrissey. This is what a lot of people don't like about The Smiths, because to be honest he is a bit of a grumpy bastard and he doesn't have the most enchanting voice in the world. But listen to this album and you'll realise his mournful croon suits ballads like I Know It's Over perfectly. Singing may not be his strong point, but lyrics are. The Smiths are always credited as 'Words by Morrissey, music by Johnny Marr'. Living up to the creative genius of Marr can't be easy, but Morrissey does a damn good job of it. What's best about his lyrics is the personal level he writes them on. The opening track The Queen Is Dead talks about his disgust about discovering his being related to the royal bloodline, going on to tell how, in what's surely the greatest lyric ever written, he "Broke into the palace, with a sponge and a rusty spanner/She said 'eh, I know you and you cannot sing', I said 'That's nothing, you should hear me play piano'". Whilst he can quite easily convey feelings of bleak despair and unhappiness (I Know It's Over ends with the repeated phrase 'Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head') he can transform this into the anthemic ('If a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a wonderful way to die' - There Is A Light) and the darkly humorous (Sweetness, I was only joking when I said by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed - Bigmouth Strikes Again). // 9
Overall Impression: The Smiths are one of the most underrated bands in history. They may have enjoyed huge success in the '80s, and there was the small thing of pretty much being the foundation of the Britpop and British indie scenes, but mention them to anyone nowadays and your response will probably be "Who?" And what annoys me more is that none of the shredders know who Johnny Marr is, or that he is one of the most talented guitarists still alive. The Smiths split in the late '80s. Morrissey has enjoyed a solo career which has gone reasonably well, although a lot of people (like me) argue that he's nothing without his creative partner Johnny Marr. Marr has been in various bands such as The The and Electronic, done a lot of production work and is now singing and playing guitar in his own band, The Healers. This has led to The Smiths' four studio albums (The Smiths, Meat Is Murder, TQID and Strangeways, Here We Come) being immortalised, and this is as good a place to discover their genius as any. // 10