Saturday, 18 June 2011

Long Live The Queen

About 25 years ago, on June 16, 1986, the third album from The Smiths - the greatest British band of the 1980s (Pixies are the American equivalent) - was released in England.  It was called The Queen Is Dead.  And it is without doubt (still, evermore) one of the finest popular music albums ever released.  The thrumming, drumming insistence of the first (title) track is deliriously potent, with its great lament: "life is very long when you're lonely".  'Frankly, Mr. Shankly' is still the best monologue of a mediocre talent put to music, and is Morrissey's riposte to Larkin's 'Mr. Bleaney'; and ends with the wonderful "give us money."  In the middle, come two of the great Smith moments - 'Cemetery Gates' ("Wilde is on my mine") - which I loved - and then the extraordinarily weird 'Bigmouth Strikes Again" ("sweetness I was only joking when I said/ by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed"), invigorating, nasty, brilliant; I was taken out of a Montreal disco on a stretcher, after dislocating my kneecap dancing to this song.  At track nine is 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' ("to die by your side, well the pleasure, the privilege is mine"), with its darkened underpass - whose strange fear summed up all the passion and pathos of adolescent longing.  Stamped throughout with melancholy-witty pop genius, this is frankly one of the best British things of the last century.  A pleasure that won't ever go out.
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