'Strangeways, Here We Come' At 25

On this day in 1987 The Smiths released their last—and best—album. Yes, I know that statement will be HUGELY CONTROVERSIAL THROUGHOUT THE INTERNETS, particularly with people who claim to have bought the “Hand In Glove” single on import when it came out even though they were actually only 10 at the time, but also with those who feel like The Queen Is Dead is the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band of the self-pitying set. I get it. The Queen Is Dead is a really good record. Strangeways is better. From the bouncy opening of “A Rush And A Push” (their best song; again, apologies, but it is) to the wistful fade-out of “I Won’t Share You,” you are in the hands of a band at the height of its power. You think “I Know It’s Over” is the beautiful, poetic apogee of feeling sorry for yourself? “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” both bulks up and strips down to reveal that inclination’s stark and brutal reality. (Related: Delete the intro to that song and you’ve taken away half of Dan Bejar’s career.) Is there anything more self-prophetic and self-parodying as “Paint A Vulgar Picture”? I’m sure there’s even someone who can defend “Death Of A Disco Dancer,” which, frankly, is the one I always skip, but no matter. It sounds ridiculous that, two-and-a-half decades after it came out we might still be talking about this, but let me tell you: in the Jewy Northeastern suburbs from which I emerged, you were actually required to choose between The Cure and The Smiths; this was the record that converted me from the former to the latter. It doesn’t take anything away from the rest of the group’s catalog to say that they went out on a high note. It’s funny, I used to get upset when I started meeting people who knew Morrissey as a solo artist before they learned that he had also been in a band; lately I’m just happy if anyone’s heard of him at all, although he’s certainly not doing himself any favors these days and oh my God that memoir’s going to be the 50 Shades of Grey of cut-rate Oscar Wilde impressions and deliberate withholding. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, right: album, you, old. But still the best. (The album, not you.) Go have a listen.