The Smiths - Meat Is Murder

NME.COM feature on The Smiths - Meat Is Murder album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Release date: 25 October 1990

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The Smiths - Meat Is Murder: Wikipedia Album Entry

Meat Is Murder is the second studio album by the British alternative rock band The Smiths. It was released in February 1985 and became the band's sole number one album in the UK charts during the band's lifetime, staying on the chart for 13 weeks. It reached number 110 in the US. In 2003, the album was ranked number 295 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Meat is Murder is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2006). The album's title is shared with the final album track, written by lead singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr who are vegetarians.
Meat Is Murder is the most eclectic album by The Smiths, with songs in the styles of funk, rockabilly, ballad, post-punk, dance music, and their signature, alternative rock. As such, it contains some of the most unusual and lauded songs of the Smiths’ catalogue[citation needed].

After the relative production disappointment of the band's debut album The Smiths, singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr produced the album themselves, assisted only by engineer Stephen Street. Officially, the record's production is credited to "The Smiths", with Rourke and Joyce allowed say about their instruments' sound-levels in the mixing.

The song "How Soon Is Now?", originally issued as the B-side of "William, It Was Really Nothing", was added on to the U.S. edition of Meat Is Murder after becoming a success in American dance clubs and on alternative radio (it was also added to post-1992 WEA re-issues of the album). This song was eventually released as a single in its own right in the UK, reaching No. 24 in the charts. Two Meat Is Murder album tracks--"Well I Wonder" (from the "How Soon Is Now?" single) and "What She Said" (from the "Shakespeare's Sister" single)--were also originally B-sides of singles.

Meat Is Murder was more strident and political than its predecessor, including the rationality of the title track (Morrissey forbade the rest of the group from being photographed eating meat), the light-hearted "Nowhere Fast" and the anti-corporal punishment "The Headmaster Ritual" and "Barbarism Begins at Home". Musically, the band had grown more adventurous, with Marr adding rockabilly riffs to "Rusholme Ruffians" and Rourke playing a funk bass on "Barbarism Begins at Home."

As well as the album being more political than its predecessor, Morrissey also brought a political stance to many of his interviews, courting further controversy. Among his targets were the Thatcher administration, the Monarchy, and Band Aid. Morrissey famously quipped of the last, "One can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia, but it's another thing to inflict daily torture on the people of England."

The subsequent single-only release "Shakespeare's Sister" was not a great success in chart terms, nor was "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore", the sole single from the album. Many[who?] considered this an odd choice for a single, with its backwards guitar and lack of any consistent hook. The charts reflected this, with it barely cracking the top 50, peaking at 49. September 1985's "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side", however, was an indication of bigger things to come.


The album's sleeve features an edited still from Emile de Antonio's 1968 documentary In the Year of the Pig. The legend on the soldier's helmet originally read "Make War Not Love". On vinyl and American CD releases, four copies of the image were used, whereas only one was used on European CD issues (presumably for reasons of legibility).


* Morrissey – vocals
* Johnny Marr – guitars, piano
* Andy Rourke – bass guitar
* Mike Joyce – drums
* The Smiths – producers (all tracks except "How Soon Is Now?")
* John Porter – producer ("How Soon Is Now?")
* Stephen Street – engineer (all tracks except "How Soon Is Now?")

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