The SMITHS – ” Meat is Murder ” 30 Years Ago Today Released 11th February 1985

Posted: February 14, 2015 in CLASSIC ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,


Early in 1985 the band released their second album,Meat Is Murder. This album was more strident and political than its predecessor, including the pro-vegetarian title track (Morrissey forbade the rest of the group from being photographed eating meat), the light-hearted republicanism of “Nowhere Fast”, and the anti-corporal punishment “The Headmaster Ritual” and “Barbarism Begins at Home”. The band had also grown more diverse musically, with Johnny Marr adding rockabilly riffs to Rusholme Ruffians” and Rourke playing a funk bass solo on “Barbarism Begins at Home”. The album was preceded by the re-release of the B-sideHow Soon Is Now? as a single, and although that song was not on the original LP, it has been added to subsequent releases. “Meat Is Murder” was the band’s only album to reach number one in the UK charts. To set the scene, let’s talk about music in 1985. In February of that year, two songs held the No. 1 spot: “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner and “Careless Whisper” by Wham! Schmaltz and sax riffs were reigning supreme. The only other album of importance to the latter-day post-punk movement to be released that month was “Night Time” by Killing Joke. Tears for Fears’ “Songs from the Big Chair” dropped too, just in case you were wondering what kind of rad pop music was available to consumers during that month. Then in walk The Smiths ready for their round two.

Allow yourself to feel small in the presence of the group’s overwhelming talent. Johnny Marr was 21 when this record was released. This means he’d written “How Soon is Now?” at that point in his life, and all I’m doing is writing about how amazing that is. Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce’s rhythm section never gripes for unnecessary authority over the songs but when they’re in the spotlight, they always shine. Morrissey’s eloquence and command over the English language can be deceptive. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how recently these Manchester masterminds graduated from the institutions they decry. Their music is so fully formed it’s hard to believe it was being written by people in their early to mid twenties. Since they were so beyond their years, the music doesn’t sound very dated. Sure, it’s easy to identify “Meat is Murder” as an ’80s record, but more because of mood and jangle than anything else. In the age of synthesizers, this is a guitar rock album through and through. Johnny Marr could shred as well as any metal band popping up back then, but he keeps everything so tasteful and necessary. Each layered riff and strumming pattern adds to a unified whole which never comes off as an ego stroke.

Morrissey brought a political stance to many of his interviews, courting further controversy. Among his targets were the Thatcher government, the British monarchy, and the famine relief project 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” (“torture” being a reference to the music that resulted from the project). The subsequent single-only release “Shakespeare’s Sister” reached number 26 on the UK Singles Chart, although the only single taken from the album, “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore“, was less successful, barely making the top 50.

Recorded in Winter of  1984 at Amazon Studios, Liverpool and Ridge Farm, Surrey, England and released on Rough Trade Records.



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