On February the 11th in 1985 Bigmouth struck again as MORRISSEY and the rest of THE SMITHS released their second studio album. Meat Is Murder followed exactly one year after the band’s eponymous debut album which worked as some sort of wake-up call to the British indie music scene. In early 1985 THE SMITHS couldn’t be farther away from big national success and global iconic status but they were on the move with their sophomore album being more radical in terms of MORRISSEY‘s lyrical output and more adventurous in terms of the musical environment. Nine songs, nine great testaments of the band’s strength. And each song managed to teach us a lesson. Time to remind us of these tracks.
1. Morrissey really hated school
Especially when it comes to corporal punishment. The Headmaster Ritual starts right with the distinctive singer insulting Manchester’s teachers as ‘Spineless swines’ and ‘cemented minds.’ Quite a contrary content to the sweet musical environment of the tune.
2. The Smiths could do rockabilly
Even if it was a slightly spaced-out version of it. Rusholme Ruffians resembles a quite joyful 50s rock sound which might be also due to the fact that it is about funfairs in the Manchester district… well, except for the fact that MORRISSEY wrote about getting stabbed on such a fair.
3. Even Morrissey got natural needs
Although he likes to play the part of the asexual lone wolf there’s always the day when ‘mentality catches up with your biology.’ He’s got the desire, he wants to spread the love but… well, he’s destined to remain unsatisfied. On various levels. That’s what I Wan’t The One I Can’t Have is all about.
4. It’s always important to take the female perspective
… even if it just presents another gloomy perspective. In What She Said MORRISSEY switches sides and follows a female character in her unstoppable wish to die out of the frustration she’s suffering from. ‘I smoke ‘cos I’m hoping for an early death’ – no room for optimism in here.
5. A good album needs no single
Or at least one? That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore was actually the only official single from Meat Is Murder. Kind of interesting since 1985 also saw the stand-alone single-releases of Shakespeare’s Sister and the legendary How Soon Is Now? The ladder became part of the longplayer in many re-prints of the 1990s but that was never the intention of THE SMITHS. Yes, we don’t understand that move either.
6. Morrissey disliked the royals from early on
One year before the release of their masterpiece, The Queen Is Dead, the singer already addressed her majesty by sharing is wish to drop his trousers in front of her. That’s only one of the funny aspects of Nowhere Fast which really shows his sense of humour. In 2015 the queen is still alive and we can only imagine how pissed the singer is about that fact.
7. Rain makes everything sadder
As if the tender guitar play of Johnny Marr and the longing lyrics of the left-alone lover aren’t already enough to cry throughout the four minutes of Well I Wonder. But on top of if THE SMITHS even added rain and thunder to the recording. Seriously? Still, it’s a mourning masterpiece.
8. They weren’t afraid to go funky
Clearly, the almost seven minutes of Barbarism Begins At Home mark the strongest performance of Andy Rourke. He’s playing his bass like a maniac in a jazz-inspired funk fury as the band follows him on that ecstatic ride. You can almost forget that the tune is actually about domestic violence.
9. Meat is Murder. It’s a fact.
Don’t deny it. The title-track of the record, an ambitious concept of a morbid protest song is the most drastic way someone addressed the subject of brainless meat consumption to that date. Packed in a dark environment, pumped up with the sounds of slaughter house equipment and suffering animals this is the most visual you can get. ‘It’s death for no reason’ sings MORRISSEY and equals the act of killing an animal with murder. Even thirty years later (and in the wake of the singer’s even more radical recent statements) the subject remains discussable. You don’t need to go vegetarian or vegan after that track but you should be a bit more aware of what you eat and how. Society’s come quite far in the past thirty years but there’s always room for more progress.