The Queen Is Dead
By David Chiu
“Life is very long, when you’re lonely,” sings Morrissey on the pummeling and breathless title song of the Smiths’ 1986 album The Queen is Dead. That line kind of encapsulates why that record, generally regarded as the Smiths’ best record our of their four studio albums—still resonates 30 years after its original release. At a time of ’80s bombastic pop music, this particular album served as an antidote to all of that. Nearly all of Queen‘s songs are classic and have appeared on the setlist of Morrissey’s solo shows. The opening title track, perhaps the most hard-rocking, punkish number the band has ever recorded, set the tone for Morrissey’s pointed if humorous and affecting lyrics, accompanied Marr’s simmering, bell-like guitar. There is too many memorable songs off the record to count, and the diversity is wide-ranging while still retaining that distinct Smiths sound: the folky and chugging “Frankly Mr. Shankly”; the dramatic and lush “I Know It’s Over”; the gorgeous pop of “The Boy With the Thorn In His Side”; the turbulent “Bigmouth Strikes Again”; the rockabilly-inspired “Vicar in the Tutu”; the iconic “There’s a Light That Never Goes Out”; and the wistful closing track “Some Girls on Are Bigger Than Others”—the record is essentially the Smiths’ Greatest Hits The production and arrangements are so polished and glistens, they don’t’ sound dated—this album represented the band at its peak. On this new set marking The Queen Is Dead‘s 30th anniversary comes a deluxe remastered version that features a slew of rarities, B-sides (among them “Money Changes Everything” and “Asleep”), and previously unreleased demos—there’s also a rarely-heard full version of the title song. Fans will salivate from the set’s additional bonus–a top-notch live concert recorded in Boston (a perfect complement to the band’s previous live record Rank), featuring songs from The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead, and Louder Than Bombs. Die-hards might have most of this stuff already, but the casual fans will be best served by having all these treasures in one set.