The Queen Is Dead
The Queen Is Dead is a regular feature on top albums of all time lists, especially those compiled by British writers, and it’s a substantial step forward from its predecessors; while the lack of diversity on Hatful of Hollow blunted its impact, and the excessive diversity of Meat Is Murder was distracting, this time the balance is right; there’s everything from epic ballads to British music hall to hard rock, but it’s all indelibly stamped with The Smiths’ sound. The Queen Is Dead is amazingly strong considering the adverse circumstances the group found themselves it at the time; Rourke was struggling with a heroin addiction and Marr was involved in a car crash, and the album was pieced together relatively quickly.
The title track is as close to hard rock as The Smiths ever got, while ‘I Know It’s Over’ climaxes stunningly in the memorable “it’s so easy to laugh” bridge. ‘Frankly, Mr Shankly’ succeeds by not taking itself too seriously, with a music hall feel and a fantastic guitar break from Marr, while ‘Cemetery Gates’ is a wonderful jangler with allusions to Wilde and Yeats. The brace of singles on the second side are all among The Smiths’ finest; the jangly and euphoric ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’, the aggressive ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ and the gorgeous ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’.
The Queen Is Dead is easily the greatest single album The Smiths ever made.