The Smiths: Meat Is Murder

THE SMITHS: MEAT IS MURDER (FEBRUARY 1985)

Continuing our look back at the history of the greatest band in the world, ever. We reach February 1985 and the release of Meat is Murder. Many claim this as their favourite Smith’s album, indeed it was their only number one. The Queen Is Dead stalling at number two. (Due to the cassette version not being ready in time, according to Morrissey!!!) It tells you something about the legacy of The Smiths that 3 of their 4 studio albums could be considered their best.

THE HEADMASTER RITUAL

Tells the tale of the brutality of Morrissey’s school days;

“Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools.”

Forged notes to get him out of gym mixed with a pounding tune set the scene for a great album. With the greatest opening line of any album, ever? When they debuted this track “live” on the Oxford Road Show on TV it was a truly wonderful moment. The band had been a bit quiet for all of 2 months or so!!!

RUSHOLME RUFFIANS

One of my favourite Smith’s tracks. In fact side one of Meat is Murder probably wins my prize as the best run of Smith’s songs. All 5 are classics. (Why Meat is Murder fails to be my favourite album is that side two contains two of my least favourite songs; The title track and the horrific Barbarism Begins at Home.)

“Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen, this means you really love me.”

Fairgrounds, unrequited love, walking home alone, violence, poor spelling, sexual innuendo and attempted suicide. Typical Morrissey themes over a rocking tune that lends a nod to (Marie’s the name) His latest flame. The Smiths would actually begin playing the Elvis song live before breaking in to Rusholme Ruffians. They recognised their debt to the Elvis song and embraced it rather than pretend it was a truly original tune.

I WANT THE ONE I CANT HAVE

“….and it’s driving me mad.”

Continues the fast rockabilly feel to the album. The lyrics are noticeably better than some of the earlier songs. Humour started to be added to the miserable words of yore. Morrissey really finds his feet on Meat is Murder.

“And if you ever need self validation just meet me in the alley by the railway station.”

WHAT SHE SAID

Another bulldozer of a tune. Another melancholy lament twisted with the dry humour we now come to expect from Moz.

“It took a tattooed boy from Birkenhead to really open her eyes.”

THAT JOKE ISNT FUNNY ANYMORE

The only single to be released from the album and strangely not released until the July. A full 5 months after the album’s release. Probably explains why it was the lowest placed Smiths single in chart land. At the time of the album they released SHAKESPEARE’S SISTER as a single. Funnily this would have been a great addition to the album making it a 10 tracker rather than only the 9 tracks they did put on it!

NOWHERE FAST

Side Two opens with another stomper. Morrissey began his anti-royals stance with this one. Dropping his trousers to Lizzy as sad trains trundle past.

WELL I WONDER

This is where the album turns for me. Not a bad tune but it drops the mood, slows the pace and to be honest the album stalls at this stage for me. 6 amazing tracks. 1 decent and 2 Damp squids. The last two tracks are my worst Smiths tracks. Only the covers of Work is a Four Letter Word and Golden Lights are held in such low esteem.

BARBARISM BEGINS AT HOME

Firstly this song had been around for ages. They’d been playing it live for a over year. It originally was given the title “A crack on the head”. Bass driven but a dirge, in my opinion. Their first poor tune followed, sadly, by an even worse one.

MEAT IS MURDER

Now many claim that this is the song that turned them off meat and onto vegetarianism. Maybe my dislike for this song is the reason I have continued to eat meat. Moz will not be pleased. Why he still insists on playing it live I really don’t know!!!

So almost a brilliant album. The tape and later the CD contain HOW SOON IS NOW. Which as one of the greatest Smiths tunes would have been a far better addition than the two previous tracks. The fact it had already been on Hatful of Hollow and been a single in the January, following it topping Peel’s Festive 50, meant it’s non inclusion on the album proper.

A tour of the country was to follow. More details about this as we hit the anniversaries of the dates. See the links below for the Oxford Road Show appearance.

LINKS:

HEADMASTER RITUAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhhG32sO12I

SHAKESPEARE’S SISTER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un8GKZGgVUo

HIS LATEST FLAME/RUSHOLME RUFFIANS (LIVE): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r57Lg7YTJmk

By peter on February 20, 2015


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