Bigmouth Strikes Again
Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
The Boy With the Thorn in His Side
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
The Smiths Is Dead by Various Artists
CFNY: Top 10 Albums of 1986 (number: 2)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2012 edition (number: 218)
Simply put, the greatest Smiths album. Locating Morrissey at the peak of his game, with his players surprisingly flexible, *The Queen Is Dead *did not disappoint when it was finally issued in summer 1986, after a legal dispute with Rough Trade had delayed its release from the start of the year.
From the excitement and rush of the title track, which was the Smiths' utmost combination of garage rock assault and music hall to the closing "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others", this was the Smiths working tightly as a unit, breaking new ground, with Morrissey taking his moment in the full glare of the limelight to act up accordingly, with puns ever more daring, sexual politics ever more ambivalent, his heart and his art on his sleeve. Johnny Marr obsessively worked on the sound and texture of the music. Together, it proves an irresistible combination.
It's got hits – "Bigmouth Strikes Again", "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side"; maudlin ruminations: "I Know It's Over" (with the line: 'Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head'); "Never Had No One Ever"; witty interludes "Frankly Mr Shankly" and "Cemetery Gates". It also contains "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out", Morrissey's most poignant lyric, matched superbly by the deftness of the musicianship.
Biographer Johnny Rogan said that with The Queen Is Dead, Morrissey emerged as 'the most interesting songwriter of his generation', and it is absolutely true. Few people can switch between high- and low-brow, vulgar comedy and poignant self doubt so convincingly and rapidly over 36 minutes.