THE SMITHS – ‘The Queen Is Dead’ (from the album The Queen Is Dead)
Maybe it’s even their finest hour: a six-minute state-of-the-nation address which bounces from Royal-baiting wit to just plain wit (‘…some old queen or other…’), to the baffled despair of someone whose times have shifted under him, to the feverish fantasy of Morrissey and Elizabeth’S meeting, to a long low moan of loneliness, and finally to a kind of nihilist call-to-arms. The way Morrissey makes that title line swing by dropping in the word ‘boys’, turning his mid-eighties howl into a cousin of the Victorian drinking song he kicks it off with, is a source of endless wonder.

No, it is their best: the band rise to the occasion, backing Morrissey’s ranting with a weird displaced garagey swirl, the rhythm section keeping things taut while Marr punctuates Moz, unshowily and to terrific effect (check the way his guitar leaps in just after Morrissey’s voice trails away to a smear at 3’01”). The most visionary pop song recorded by any British band in the 80s, ‘The Queen Is Dead’s magnificence lies in its achieving this kind of scope while staying flamboyantly personal.