You Picked It! – The Smiths – ‘The Queen is Dead’ (1986) – Album Review

Alright…You Picked It! And this one I thought was going to be a blowout as The Smiths opened up with the first 5 votes. It ended up really close, but The Smiths never relinquished the lead. Therefore the winner was The Smiths – ‘The Queen is Dead’ which is one I have actually never heard from beginning to end as as it is not a genre I particularly like. Here are the results.

  1. The Smiths – ‘The Queen is Dead’ – 7 votes
  2. Ghost – ‘Meliora’ – 5 votes
  3. The Doors – ‘Morrison Hotel’ – 5 votes
  4. Pistol Annies – ‘Interstate Gospel’ – 2 votes
  5. Hollywood Undead – ‘Hotel Kalifornia’ – Sadly, 0 votes

Thanks to all for participating. The October choices will be up on Saturday!

THE SMITHS – ‘THE QUEEN IS DEAD’ (1986):

Disclaimer: Who would’ve thought that after I wrote this review, the Queen would actually pass away. I mean no disrespect posting this today as it has been planned and written for over a week prior to her death. I find the monarch rather fascinating as we don’t have one here in the States despite some orange colored freak who would like to be King. Enough of that, let’s just talk music.

The Smiths have been touted as one of the most important bands to come out of the 80’s British independent music scene. The album ‘The Queen is Dead’ is routinely placed in the Top 10 (and sometimes #1) as one of the best albums of the 80’s. So, no pressure in reviewing this at all.

When I first listened to the album, I played it in my car on my drive to work. This drive turned in to one of the worst drives I have had in to the office in years. The drive started out dark and gloomy with a lot of fog and then turned a 32 minute drive in to an hour due to a wreck on the highway. Waze took me off the interstate and on to back roads that quickly filled up because of the accident. I’m not saying it was the music that caused this, but I’m also not saying it didn’t. Normally, when I am in traffic like this, the music help soothes me over, but instead it made me somber, melancholic and out right depressed.

Yes, I found the music depressing. And Morrissey, well is he singing or is he moaning the whole time. There was no real emotion, it was very monotone and sorry to say, boring as hell. At times, I thought someone was beating a cat upside a wall or something. When you are having a bad day, music is supposed to help with that and not make you feel worse. This made me feel worse. With each listen, the same effect.

The opening track and title track, “The Queen is Dead”, might be the most interesting song, musically, on the album. With the use of the wah-wah pedals on the guitar distortion and the looped tom-tom hits on the drumming, It is a great sounding song. But Morrisey kills it for me. I’m not sure the fascination with his singing. I don’t find it enjoyable at all. Johnny Marr on guitar, I do like though.

“Frankly, Mr. Shankly” is supposed to be humorous I guess. It is quirky and bizarre with silly lyrics at times and also seems a little pretentious. “I Know It’s Over” is a ballad and feels like an old 60’s song with Morrisey’s crooning and that is all good I can say about it. I’m starting to nod off so let’s get to the next song. “Never Had No One Ever” is about as depressing as they come. Maybe its Morrissey’s constant whining on the song as to why he has had no one ever…just a thought.

“Cemetry Gates” is another example of a song that is easily forgettable and gone from your mind the minute you hear it. The one thing I have found is they don’t have memorable hooks or melodies (at least to me). “Bigmouth Strikes Again” is actually pretty good, musically. Johnny Marr has some cool guitar moments. Morrisey’s lyrics are interesting here as the guy in the song compares themselves to Joan of Arc. Humorous at times and okay, a song I somewhat like…finally.

“The Boy with a Thorn in His Side” is another interesting song, lyrically as the thorn is the music industry. However, musically and vocally, I find the song rather boring as nothing to hook you in and grab hold. “Vicar in a Tu-Tu” is supposed to be humorous with the jaunty music but Morrissey is the uninteresting part here…again. “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” is more of the same…yawn. And FINALLY…”Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” starts off with some weird fade in, out and in again. I am sure there is an attempt at humor, but it is lost on me. The album seems to have a lot of humor lying on under the surface but never makes to the the top for as I am not a fan and am so disinterested when I hear the music.

And I apologize to anyone that likes The Smiths…I don’t get it. All the songs kind a sound similar, the vocals have no emotion and one of the greatest albums of the 80’s…I’m afraid it isn’t even in my Top 1000. I will never play this album again and in fact, I will discourage others as to save them the pain and misery. This is time of my life I will never get back. Oh, and since I stopped playing it in the car, the drive to work has been back to 32 minutes…coincidence? I think not!!! My Overall Score…1.0 out of 5.0 Stars (as I did like “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and I think Johnny Marr is pretty great as well).

40 thoughts on “You Picked It! – The Smiths – ‘The Queen is Dead’ (1986) – Album Review

    1. Thanks. I hope no one is offended by the timing, but too many things would have to be moved around and I wasn’t willing to change things up. no ill will was intended. I plan out a month ahead so I have to deal with bad timing every now and again.

      Like

  1. It wasn’t planned but it was timely… This band ain’t for me, and I didn’t vote for this, but good on you for sitting through it all. Your rating doesn’t surprise me, but I think it’s good to have a low score now and again – stops this whole thing from becoming a positivity-fest lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. I’ve never really been a fan as I always found this genre of rock to be cold and distant. Bands of that era seemed to be so interested in not having any blues or soul that they seemed to strip their music of any real feeling.

    That said, despite your warnings I feel compelled to give this album a listen. It has so many raves from so many quarters I think I need to see if it will turn me into a fan or drive me to suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I grew up with them being on the radio a lot. Really like them a lot. Morrissey almost always makes me laugh or at least smile. Growing up this was ideal for all the lonely, outsider, poetry types, not that all that fitted me but still if u liked the Smiths you were cool among the people who weren’t typically called cool.

    Was listening to Viva Hysteria but just had to put this one on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel kind of the same…Johnny Marr…I love his guitar playing but yea the singing hits that monotone 80s sound that I hate.
    I hope one day you will nominate a Replacements album like “Tim” or “Please to Meet Me”…for me they were the best alternative band of the 80s…yea even over REM.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OK, so I came prepared to hate this album based on your review. Question – were you and I listening to the same album? I’m listening to it on headphones right now and the album is, I think, uniformly excellent. And I am hardly a Smiths fan. But this thing charges right out of the gate with the title song. The playing is really good. I am not a big fan of Morrissey’s singing but I don’t hate it either. But really, thank you for bringing this album to my attention. I am not shitting you or being contrary. I think listening to it your lousy drive might not have been the best idea. Not encouraging you to listen to it again because I’d hate to see you slit your wrists. But I find nothing either bad or even remotely depressing about it. (I like Johnny Marr but his playing isn’t something that inspires me).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maybe we didn’t listen to the same album. I never got to hear it with my headphones, but honestly wouldn’t make a difference. It is not something I’ll ever like and appreciate because I find it so dull. I liked some of the humor in it, but for the most, nothing was memorable for me and even after all the listens I gave it, I don’t remember how it goes.

      Like

          1. Yeah, I truly do like it. I mean, I was as surprised as anybody. I haven’t really given two shits about the Smiths. It won’t go into heavy rotation by any means. But you know, now and again I’ll pick up on it.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, John, you’re pretty harsh! While I never got very much into The Smiths’ music back in their heyday (mainly due to benign neglect, as few of their songs were played on the L.A. radio stations I listened to), I do appreciate their songwriting, Johnny Marr’s incredible jangly guitar work, and Morrissey’s vulnerable vocals, which you obviously find very annoying. I just listened to this album, and while I personally wouldn’t rank it among the best of the 80s, it’s still a pretty strong work in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s