Artist: The Smiths
Album: Meat Is Murder (1985)
With Meat Is Murder, The Smiths achieved greatness. Perhaps writing that as my lead-in sort of spoils my review, but there you have it. Meat Is Murder improves upon the framework laid down in their self-titled debut in every possible way, and this can be immediately heard in opening song “The Headmaster Ritual,” which features a fantastically melodic bass-line from Andy Rourke. Though we can’t discount Johnny Marr’s guitar playing, it’s Rourke’s bass that drives this album, and you check out “Barbarism Begins At Home” if you have any doubts.
Gone are Morrissey’s awkward falsettos and un-affected tone: here we have all the charisma, yelps, and full-bodied sound that their debut promised. Morrissey coming into his own also has a downside, and that comes in the form of the title track, “Meat Is Murder.” It’s a downright difficult listen that borders on miserable and the sounds of animals presumably being slaughtered certainly don’t help. Of course, being an outspoken vegetarian, miserable is how Morrissey wants you to feel. Mission accomplished?
Meat Is Murder was originally my first foray into The Smiths, and for days afterward I could be heard singing “I want to go home/I don’t want to stay” from “The Headmaster Ritual.” The original U.S version that I owned inserted one of their greatest singles, “How Soon Is Now,” smack-dab in the middle of the album. Only now do I realize just how disruptive that was and I’m glad that the album has been restored. If you’re not familiar with The Smiths, feel free to start here. I won’t tell.