1980 and all that: 1986

The Smiths - The Queen is Dead

The common narrative about The Smiths goes something like this: ‘Miserable bunch, weren’t they?’

Of course, any devoted (or even not particularly devoted) follower of Morrissey, Marr and the other two would take great offence at that. They’d probably storm off and sulk at the nearest available set of cemetery gates.

The Smiths spoke for a generation – and inspired several more generations. Much of the music appearing from this point on in this anthology would simply never have come into being without the influence of The Smiths.

‘Vicar in a Tutu’ is probably not The Smiths’ finest hour – even if it does come from their finest album, The Queen is Dead. But it remains one of my favourites of theirs simply because of its silliness and, of course, Morrissey’s spectacular way with words.

From the gleeful alliteration of “Rose counts the money in the canister” through to the Carry On tinged premise of the eponymous cross-dressing cleric being spied upon by a lead-lifting thief (“it was worthwhile living the laughable life/to set my eyes on the blistering sight”), The Smiths easily proved they could beat most people’s best when they weren’t even really trying.

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