The Smiths album cover story for “The Queen is Dead”

Released in June 1986, The queen is dead is the third studio album from the founders of British indie rock The Smiths. After spending 22 weeks on the UK Albums Chart, peaking at No.2, the record has often been referred to as the best independent album of all time, and it’s not hard to see why.

In classic Smiths style, the album takes its name from literature, particularly Hubert Selby Jr.’s 1964 novel, Last Exit to Brooklyn. The album was written, for the most part, by guitarist Johnny Marr, who wrote the music for several of the songs while the Smiths toured Britain in early 1985. Marr would work on the songs with singer Morrissey , bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. during the balances.

The album was produced by both Morrissey and Marr, who again teamed up with iconic British engineer Stephen Street. It turned out to be a now legendary partnership, and Street had worked on the band’s classic in 1985. Meat is murder, among many others from their previous versions. Street later recalled, “Morrissey, Johnny and I had a really good working relationship – we were all about the same age and the same sort of thing, so everyone felt pretty relaxed in the studio.”

The album, it must be said, was also marred by an ongoing dispute with the band’s label, Rough Trade. In fact, “Frankly, Mr. Shankly” would have been addressed to Geoff Travis, director of Rough Trade. Travis has since accepted it as “funny words”, emphasizing Morrissey’s “desire to be somewhere else”.

Additionally, the song’s line on “horrible and bloody poetry” was a reference to a poem he had written for Morrissey. They also call Travis “a flatulent sucker,” which together sounds a little rude. Travis must have really pissed off Morrissey with his prose.

Independently, The queen is dead is classic Smiths. It features many of their most iconic songs including “I Know It’s Over”, “Bigmouth Strikes Again”, “Cemetry Gates”, “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side”, “There is A Light That Never Goes Out “‘and’ Some girls are taller than others’.

Apart from the music, The queen is dead became iconic for another reason; the album cover. The art features French actor-turned-businessman Alain Delon in the 1964 film noir The rebellious (The Undefeated). Delon had written to the Smiths and had given them permission to use his image. However, the offer came with a condition, as he revealed in his autobiography: “I told them my parents were upset that anyone would call an album. The queen is dead. ”

Much like the Smiths, having previously denigrated their label manager, this request was clearly ignored. It was also typical of the Smiths to use actors and elements of popular culture for their sleeves. The “Big Mouth Strikes Again” cover pays homage to actor James Dean, the motorcycle representative, and for “Panic”, actor Richard Bradford appears in a scene from his cult television series A man in a suitcase.

It’s this convergence of Smiths and pop culture imagery that adds to the band’s iconic stature. Each Smiths single and album cover has its own interesting story. A classic example is the 1984 release, “What difference does that make?” “. The group originally intended to use an image of actor Terrence Stamp from the set of the 1965 film. The collector. The image they wanted was not used in the film, but remains a classic. It shows Stamp grinning in a lopsided manner, holding a swab of chloroform. Due to the violent composition of the image, it initially refused to be used, so the Smiths had to find an alternative.

This alternate version, which appears on some pressings, depicts Morrissey in the reconstructed scene. However, instead of the chloroform pad, Morrissey is holding a glass of milk, the complete opposite of the original. Eventually, however, Stamp changed his mind, killing the production of the covers featuring Morrissey, making them very rare and collectable.

It shows the Smiths drew as much inspiration from pop culture as anywhere else, revealing The queen is deadthe album cover to be the band that goes through the moves like they had done countless times before, and would with their future releases. However, what makes this album cover really stand out is the effect that the convergence between the music and the cover had. For these two reasons, this is a highlight in the back-catalog of the group.

In 2003, Gavin Edwards summed it up succinctly. He called The queen is dead “one of the funniest rock albums of all time,” noting that Morrissey had “learned to express self-loathing through mockery”. Additionally, he notes how Johnny Marr established himself by matching “Morrissey’s verbal excess with witty, supple music.”

No line describing the album and artwork is more appropriate than Edwards’ conclusion: “If the Queen’s reaction to Morrissey was’ We weren’t having fun, ‘then she was the only one.”

(Credit: Les Smith)


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About Elizabeth J. Swartz

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