Saturday, June 28, 1986

The Smiths released The Queen Is Dead

The Queen Is Dead

The Smiths


Released: June 28, 1986


Peak: 70 US, 2 UK, 29 CN, 30 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.85 US, 0.3 UK, 1.25 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: altnerative/new wave


Tracks:

Song Title > [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. The Queen Is Dead/ Take Me Back to Dear Old Blightly (medley) [6:24]
  2. Frankly, Mr. Shankly [2:17]
  3. I Know It’s Over [5:48]
  4. Never Had No One Ever [3:37]
  5. Cemetry Gates [2:39]
  6. Bigmouth Strikes Again [3:12] (5/19/86, 26 UK, 2 CO)
  7. The Boy with the Thorn in His Side [3:16] (9/23/85, 23 UK, 10 CO)
  8. Vicar in a Tutu [2:22]
  9. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out [4:03] (10/12/92, 25 UK, 2 CO)
  10. Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others [3:16]

Lyrics by Morrissey. Music composed by Johnny Marr.


Total Running Time: 36:48


The Players:

  • Morrissey (vocals)
  • Johnny Marr (guitar, etc.)
  • Andy Rourke (bass)
  • Mike Joyce (drums)

Rating:

4.449 out of 5.00 (average of 26 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The original kings of British mope rock could have earned that title on the basis of this album alone.” RS “The Smiths typify one of the classic oppositional dynamics that define many rock bands.” TM College-rock audiences in the eighties “often listen[ed] to The Smiths…to battle the depression of adolescence, and then subsequently dismiss[ed] the band later in life along with the painful memories of youth. But that does a great disservice to a group with complex arrangements and literate lyrics that inspired Radiohead on to greatness.” RV

“The poet born Steven Patrick Morrissey spills out his elegant melancholy” EW and offers “waspish observations on the British obsession with social propriety and its appetite for juicy scandal.” PR Morrissey’s “self-pitying monologues” PR are backed by the “much scruffier” TM “liquid lead guitar of janglemaster Johnny Marr.” EW “Marr and the rhythm section blaze trails toward an idealized zone of rock (and sometimes pop) sunshine. Their runaway exuberance magnifies and sometimes mocks Morrissey’s gloomy desperation” TM by “forming a happy counterpoint.” ZS The mix has been described as “absolute bliss meets a razor blade.” ZS

“Lots of acts have milked that contrast. But few have taken it to the delightful extremes that define the Smiths’ third album, The Queen Is Dead.” TM The album marked the group’s “great leap forward, taking the band to new musical and lyrical heights.” AMG They were “in the middle of one of the greatest creative rolls that any band or artist has EVER managed.” CAD

“The album’s genesis seems to have been kickstarted by…Marr.” CAD Morrissey kept falling out with the group’s managers so Marr was largely running the group. AD “In the preceding year or so the band had all individually drifted down to live in London and he felt that the music was suffering as a consequence…He moved back north to a place near Manchester and urged the others to follow suit which they eventually did, renting properties nearby. Throughout the summer of 1985 Morrissey and Marr really got to work, crafting early drafts of what were to become some of their finest ever songs.” CAD

“The storming title trackAMG is “full of quiet rage.” RS It is “a lyrical and musical tour-de-force which can be taken on (at least) three different levels. The first, and obvious one would be an attack on ‘her very Lowness’ herself and the Monarchy as a whole, in Morrissey’s opinion an outdated and irrelevant institution.” CAD “Secondly, we can take ‘The Queen’ of the title to mean Britain itself. He’s bemoaning the fact that the country is…no longer the place it used to be, broken, impoverished, a generation condemned to the dole queue by Thatcher and her “no such thing as society” mantra. Then again, the title could refer to Morrissey himself” CAD who once said it was autobiographical. CAD

Frankly Mr. Shankly is “strummy social commentary” RS with its “deliciously comic music hall stomp.” CAD The “acoustic guitar lend[s] a fine contrast to the preceding track. Lyrically it’s partly an attack on their record label (and its owner) at the time, Rough Trade.” CAD

“The lovely melancholy of I Know It’s OverAMG makes for “a heartbreaking, beautiful lament, loaded with emotion and sung with epic passion.” CAD Reviewer Adrian Denning called it “Morrissey’s finest five minutes and forty nine seconds as a vocalist.” ADNever Had No One Ever is more of the same in terms of feel. Not quite so inspired this time but it remains perfectly fine.” AD

Meanwhile, “the bouncy acoustic pop of Cemetry GatesAMG makes for “a lovely, jaunty tune to close the side with a bit of humour thrown in.” CAD as Morrissey presents “the great poets as trading-card superheroes, …giving his friend John Keats and William Butler Yeats and keeping Oscar Wilde for himself.” TM

The second half includes “two utterly wonderful singles,” CAD with “the minor-key rush of Bigmouth Strikes AgainAMG and “the wistful The Boy With The Thorn in His Side.” AMG The former is a “rampaging Stones-style rockers about saying the wrong thing,” TM complete with the “curiously empathetic line, ‘Now I know how Joan of Arc felt as the flames rose to her Roman nose and her Walkman started to melt’).” TM While that “was largely Johnny’s show, it’s only appropriate that [‘Thorn’]…should be Morrissey’s time to shine. Both support each other.” AD

“The epic There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” AMG was finally released as a single six years later. It “could well be the ultimate Smiths song…Critic and author Simon Goddard has dubbed it ‘the national anthem of Smithdom.’” CAD It is “a joyous celebration of being hopelessly in love” CAD and yet “Morrissey typically manages to throw in some mordant humour amidst the euphoria” CAD with lines like “And if a double-decker bus, crashes into us / to die by your side, such a heavenly way to die / and if a ten ton truck, kills the both of us / to die by your side, the pleasure and the privilege is mine.”

Also on the second half: “the faux rockabilly of Vicar in a TutuAMG “is simple, stupid, happy.... and brilliant.” AD Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others “is perfect to close…The lyrics are funny and whilst your wiping away the tears from listening to ‘There Is a Light’ gives you another emotion entirely.” AD

Marr “created a dense web of guitars” AMG “and the rich musical bed provides Morrissey with the support for his finest set of lyrics” AMG and “some of his finest, most affecting songs.” AMG They “focus on heartbreak and isolation with just enough beauty to provide a ray of hope among the clouds of sadness.” RV Morrissey “delivers a devastating set of clever, witty satires of British social mores, intellectualism, class, and even himself.” AMG

The Queen is Dead explores mortality, love and redemption like few bands. This album is among the best the ‘80s pop scene had to offer and a remarkable achievement of musical artistry.” RV It is “the best album by the band that defined the genre they sprang from, if Indie/Alternative is even a genre.” CAD “The Smiths’ success brought about a resurgence of guitar-led pop in Britain after a period dominated by synthesizers.” TB They “made it possible for future independent acts such as Oasis and The Stone Roses to break into the mainstream.” PR

On Queen, “The Smiths peak as both writers and performers.” AD This “is the album that best captures the droll humor and musical extravagances that made the Smiths so riveting.” TM It “defined their times and gave us one of the greatest songwriting partnerships there’s EVER been.” CAD “Forget Her Majesty — on The Queen Is Dead the Smiths simply slay us all.” EW


Notes: A 2017 collector’s edition added a second disc of demos and B-sides as well as a third disc of live songs.

Resources and Related Links:

  • AMG All Music Guide review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
  • CAD Cool Album of the Day review by Stephen Dalrymple
  • AD Adrian Denning
  • EW Entertainment Weekly The New Classics: Music (6/18/2007)
  • TM Tom Moon (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York, NY.
  • RV The Review “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” by Clarke Speicher (October – November 2001; Vol. 128: numbers 12-23).
  • PR Paul Roland (2001). CD Guide to Pop & Rock. B.T. Batsford LTD: London. Pages 228-9.
  • RS Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Page 233.
  • WK Wikipedia
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY.


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 6/28/2012; last updated 12/3/2021.

Saturday, June 14, 1986

Furniture hit the UK chart with “Brilliant Mind”

Brilliant Mind

Furniture

Writer(s): Jim Irvin, Hamilton Lee, Sally Still, Tim Whelan (see lyrics here)


First Charted: June 14, 1986


Peak: 21 UK, 15 CO, 14 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.08 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

No song takes me back to my college days more than this one. Lyrically, it captured the woeful, yet universal, self-pity that adolescents and young adults often succumb to when navigating life and relationships. The opening line “I’m at the stage where everything I thought meant something seems so unappealing” was practically my mantra as an unfocused, question-it-all college sophomore.

Of course, nothing was more gut-wrenching to a not-quite-twenty-something than failed relationship efforts. It was all too easy to wallow in the blame-game nature of the chorus, alternating between saying “you must be out of your brilliant mind” and “they must be out of their brilliant minds.” After all, how could I be the one responsible for my shortcomings?

The song was a minor hit in the UK in 1986, but I didn’t hear it until the re-recorded version featured in Some Kind of Wonderful. That movie, written by the no-one-understands-high-school-more-than-me John Hughes, was a redo on his more popular Pretty in Pink. That film had the nerdy girl pining for the popular guy, but ending up with her even nerdier long-time friend who’d been crushing on her forever. Hughes, however, caved to audiences at early screenings who wanted her to end up with the rich stud and rewrote the ending. Dismayed by his decision, Hughes revamped the story line for Some Kind of Wonderful. This time the main character was Keith, a nerdy art student infatuated with a cheerleader while oblivious to his gal pal’s interest in him.

The “sardonically wistful” WK “Brilliant Mind” surprisingly wasn’t the soundtrack’s centerpiece, despite its perfect encapsulation of teen angst. Musically, it sounds like a natural on ‘80s synth-pop playlists alongside new wave standards like Modern English’s “I Melt with You” and New Order’s “Blue Monday.” However, it came up short there as well, failing to reach the lofty classic status of its contemporaries, although ‘80s music icon Boy George declared it his favorite record of the era. WK The rest of the world may not have noticed it, but I did – and more than thirty years later I still can’t get the song out of my brilliant mind.


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 10/19/2020; last updated 7/3/2022.

Monday, June 9, 1986

Genesis Invisible Touch released

Invisible Touch

Genesis


Released: June 9, 1986


Peak: 3 US, 13 UK, 11 CN, 3 AU


Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 1.2 UK, 14.6 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic mainstream rock


Tracks:

Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Invisible Touch [3:29] (5/19/86, 1 US, 1 CB, 1 RR, 3 AC, 1 AR, 15 UK, 6 CN, 3 AU)
  2. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight [8:53] (7/26/86, 3 US, 3 CB, 3 RR, 8 AC, 9 AR, 18 UK, 19 CN, 93 AU)
  3. Land of Confusion [4:45] (6/28/86, 4 US, 5 CB, 5 RR, 11 AR, 14 UK, 8 CN, 21 AU)
  4. In Too Deep [4:58] (7/5/86, 3 US, 4 CB, 3 RR, 1 AC, 34 AR, 19 UK, 15 CN, 17 AU)
  5. Anything She Does [4:09] (6/28/86, 40 AR)
  6. In the Glow of the Night (Domino, Part 1) [4:27]
  7. The Last Domino (Domino, Part 2) [6:18] (6/21/86, 29 AR)
  8. Throwing It All Away [3:53] (6/21/86, 4 US, 3 CB, 1 RR, 1 AC, 1 AR, 22 UK, 12 CN, 91 AU)
  9. The Brazilian [4:50]

All songs written by Banks, Collins, and Rutherford.


Total Running Time: 45:42


The Players:

  • Tony Banks (keyboards, synth bass)
  • Phil Collins (vocals, drums, percussion)
  • Mike Rutherford (guitars, bass)

Rating:

3.557 out of 5.00 (average of 28 ratings)


Quotable: “Pop that was the sound of the mainstream in the late ‘80s” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Here’s pop Genesis at its overachieving best” JP as they try “to pack muscianly thrills into simpler structures.” JPInvisible Touch is, without a doubt, Genesis’ poppiest album, a sleek, streamlined affair built on electronic percussion and dressed in synths that somehow seem to be programmed, not played by Tony Banks.” AMG

“Delivered in the wake of Phil Collins’ massive success as a solo star, Invisible Touch was seen at the time as a bit of a Phil Collins solo album disguised as a Genesis album, and it’s not hard to see why.” AMG “It does seem a bit like No Jacket Required, and the heavy emphasis on pop tunes does serve the singer, not the band.” AMG “Collins is in full lonely-guy mode, bemoaning unapproachable women or conjuring suspenseful plots – even doing both at once in In Too Deep and the big but snappy suite Domino.” JP “The title track is the frothiest thing the band ever did, while ‘In Too Deep’ and Throwing It All Away are power ballads that could be seen as Phil projects.” AMG

Still, “it’s not quite fair to call this a Collins album, and not just because there are two arty tunes that could have fit on its predecessor, Genesis. There is a difference between Collins and Genesis – on his own, Phil was lighter, and Genesis was often a bit chillier.” AMG Case in point: “Land of Confusion was a protest tune and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight was a stark, scary tale of scoring dope (which made its inclusion in a Michelob campaign in the ‘80s almost as odd as recovering alcoholic Eric Clapton shilling for the brewery).” AMG

Indeed “the songs unfold in a percussive, artificial realm that makes Collins’ voice sound even more isolated in his yearing and his predicaments.” JP “Banks’ recital-hall piano and organ had long since given way to foreboding synthesizer chords and brittle notes that ricochet all over the place, syncopating neatly against Collins’s salvos of tom-toms.” JP “But those songs had big hooks that excused their coldness, and the arty moments sank to the bottom, obscured by the big, bold pop hooks here – pop that was the sound of the mainstream in the late ‘80s, pop that still effortlessly evokes its time.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Genesis
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
  • JP Jon Pareles, Blender magazine. (10/07), pp.118-9.
  • WK Wikipedia


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/18/2008; last updated 9/21/2021.