The Smiths’ 1986 album The Queen Is Dead first made it into my hands during my sophomore year in high school via a friend’s older sister who had an appreciation for the sounds coming from the UK. That cassette (a copy of a copy, it should be said) served as my introduction to the Manchester band, and specifically the songwriting talents of Morrissey and (Johnny) Marr, one of pop music’s best-ever pairings.
To this day, The Queen Is Dead remains one of my top albums, one I would most certainly take along if I was destined for a desert-island stay. From start to finish, it’s a strong collection of songs, with several sure to make any Smiths fan’s list of favorites. At minimum, the exquisitely morbid “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” must rank high or the list is wholly without merit. And if a 10-ton truck kills the both of us / To die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine…
A cover of The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” wraps the new 4-track EP from California girl group Dum Dum Girls, released last Tuesday. He Gets Me High, was produced by the fuzz-poppers’ frontwoman, Kristin “Dee Dee” Gundred, along with The Raveonettes‘ Sune Rose Wagner and Richard Gottehrer, who produced Dum Dum Girls’ 2010 debut, I Will Be. Gottehrer is a music biz veteran, whose impressive resume includes co-writing a pair of classic pop songs (“My Boyfriend’s Back” and “I Want Candy”), co-founding Sire Records with Seymour Stein, and producing the debuts of both Blondie and The Go-Go’s.
Dum Dum Girls’ version of “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” doesn’t venture too far from the original, a smart move when approaching something akin to the Holy Grail of Smiths songs. Gone are the strings, but the song’s familiar melody remains intact, with Dee Dee inhabiting Morrissey’s role quite comfortably. What makes this particular Smiths’ cover worthy of multiple plays is the addition of a reverberating wall of guitars, which blankets the song’s wry resignation in warmth.
Hang on, Dee Dee, better days are just around the bend if your friend can avoid that double-decker bus and 10-ton truck: