The Smiths: Meat Is Murder

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Meat Is Murder, the sophomore effort from pioneering English band The Smiths, found the act experimenting with a myriad of genre bending styles. First of all, Morrissey’s long time penchant for Elvis-esque rockabilly is in full gear (i.e. “Rusholme Ruffians”) as well as more sensitive, introspective ballads (“I Want the One I Can’t Have”).

Not immediately accessible, and with no standout radio single, the record would remain one of The Smiths least favored records. It’s remarkable, then, to recall that Meat Is Murder is the only original album to chart at #1 in the U.K. The inclusion of the immensely popular “How Soon Is Now” on the U.S. release ensured that Meat Is Murder would also sell reasonably well stateside.

The politically charged ideology is abjectly confrontational but never quite approaching tiresome. Lettuce love lullaby “Meat Is Murder” is, like veganism, an aquired taste. Though a bit preachy and self-righteous, the lyrical content does hold some sad truths. Just recently, to the shock of no one, it’s come to light that some slaughterhouses routinely employed torture.

“Barbarism Begins At Home” and sister song “The Headmaster Ritual” serve as compelling odes decrying the stringent disciplinarian tactics of English schoolhouses.

Perhaps the most amusing track is “Nowhere Fast” with it’s giddy declaration of “I’d like to drop my trousers to the Queen” amid typically dispiriting reflective imagery such as: “I think about life and I think about death, and neither one particularly appeals to me.” Brilliant.

Meat Is Murder is primarily regarded as an important step in the creative growth of The Smiths which reaches its peak with the monumental third release The Queen Is Dead. Check back soon for an upcoming discourse on that album as we continue our spotlight series on The Smiths.

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“Rusholme Ruffians” from Meat Is Murder (1985)

“Barbarism Begins At Home” from Meat Is Murder (1985)