16 June 2013

16th June - The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead

Artist – Album: The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
Released:  16th June 1986
Sounds Like:  A not Unhappy Birthday!

I’d say it took about 6.23 seconds from setting up my extensive database of albums and release dates for this stupid-boy-project before I checked to see what albums were released on the 16th June, my birthday.

Wild Beast’s Limbo Panto, 5 years old today, would not have been a bad album, boasting as it does their unique vocal warblings and their peculiar brand of atmospheric indie rock. History’s most infamous difficult album, Trout Mask Replica, also shares my birthday which certainly would have made an interesting post, whilst it’s crazy to think that Spiritualized’s wonderful but heartbreaking Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space turns 16 today. But to be honest I couldn’t have been happier to see that The Smiths’ masterpiece is also a 16th of Juner, being as it is one of my all time favourite records. What a cracking present.

It’s the sound of the band at the very top of their game. Rourke and Joyce are lithe and powerful throughout, particularly on the spiky opener ‘The Queen Is Dead’, but it’s impossible to ignore the incredible input of the twin powers of Johnny Marr and Morrissey. Marr here produced some of his most dazzling compositions – although he was unsurprisingly pissed off when Morrissey festooned the faintly ridiculous lyrics of ‘Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others’ over a stunningly gorgeous melody, there are plenty of other remarkable tunes untainted by quickly tossed off words. ‘Cemetry Gates’ is splendid bubblegum pop, whilst ‘The Boy With the Thorn in His Side’ might sit only behind ‘This Charming Man’ as their best ever slice of jangly indie rock.

Meanwhile, Morrissey steps up to the mic armed with his finest set of lyrics. He playfully rips apart his record label head on ‘Frankly Mr Shankly’ (“But sometimes I'd feel more fulfilled, Making Christmas cards with the mentally ill”), embraces melodramatic love on fan favourite There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’ and shows his unparalleled gift for shattering despair on ‘I Know It’s Over’ (I know it's over - still I cling, I don't know where else I can go”). The latter song is the albums focal point and the one that brings together each wonderful element most successfully. But as a whole the album is near perfect anyway. Happy birthday to me.

Albumaday... rating: 10/10

1.       The Queen Is Dead – 6:24
2.       Frankly, Mr. Shankly – 2:17
3.       I Know It’s Over – 5:48
4.       Never Had No One Ever – 3:36
5.       Cemetry Gates – 2:39
6.       Bigmouth Strikes Again – 3:12
7.       The Boy with the Thorn in His Side – 3:15
8.       Vicar in a Tutu – 2:21
9.       There Is a Light That Never Goes Out – 4:02
10.   Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others – 3:14

Listen to ‘The Boy with the Thorn in His Side‘: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYp2LGKOF_M

Also released on the 16th June:
1969: Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica
Also released on the 16th June:
1997: Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space

Also released on the 16th June:
2008: Wild Beasts – Limbo Panto

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