Meat is murder

In may 1982 Johnny Marr decided to form a band. He asked his friend Morrissey, whom he met at a Patti Smith concert, if he was interested in joining the band. Another friend Steve Pomfret would become the third member. Morrissey and Marr both loved poetry and literature. Towards the end of 1982 they named the band The Smiths most likely because Marr and Morrissey met each other at the Patti Smith concert. As a reason for this name Morrissey said "It was the most ordinary name and I thought it was time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces". Steven Patrick Morrissey hated his first name and forbade people to use it. That's why everyone knows him as Morrissey or "Moz". Pomfret left the band as a bass player to be replaced by Dale Hibbert who worked at Manchester's Decibel Studios where Marr recorded a demo. At the same time Simon Wolstencroft became their drummer. Both Dale and Simon were replaced by others. Simon was replaced by Mike Joyce and Dale by Andy Rourke. With this definitive and legendary line-up they recorded their second demo tape including "What Difference Does It Make?", "Handsome Devil" and "Miserable Lie". The tape was offered to EMI who turned the band down. They had more success with Rough Trade Records that resulted in their debut single "Hand In Glove". The single didn't manage to reach the charts but a BBC Radio 1 John Peel session gave them the attention they deserved. This resulted in recording an album with Rough Trade Records produced by Troy Tate of the band Teardrop Explodes. But the record label was not happy with the result and the producer. Therefore they decided to redo the whole album with producer John Porter. The follow up singles "This Charming Man" (UK#25) and "What Difference Does It Make?" (UK#12) were finaly reaching the charts in the UK. Their first album "The Smiths" was released in 1984 and reached #2 in the UK. Also another BCC radio session on David Jensen's show impressed and their fanbase was starting to grow. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and "William, It Was Really Nothing" followed as singles. A compilation titled "Hatful Of Hollow" ended 1984 which offered the singles A/B-sides and BBC radio sessions.

The first hit single in the UK "This Charming Man"
 The band also picked up attention in the Netherlands by dutch 80's radio show "De verrukkelijke 15" which was a chart list based on listener's votes on a post card every week and choices by the radio DJ's. This show influenced the real sales charts in the Netherlands.

Moz, Mike, Andy and Johnny in 1985

In 1985 the follow up album to their debut was released and titled "Meat Is Murder". The title track was cleary a vegetarian song and vegetarian Morrissey forbade the band members of being photographed in public eating meat. It was inspired by the 1983 song "Meat Means Murder" by the anarcho-punk band Conflict. The album itself was the only album of the Smiths to reach #1 in the UK Charts. The other studio albums all reached #2. In the Netherlands the album reached #22.

Alternative single cover "The Headmaster Ritual"

It was produced by the band themselves with the help of engineer Stephen Street. The album was preceded by the single "How Soon Is Now?" which was the B-Side of "William, It Was Really Nothing". It was added in the tracklisting in the US and some worldwide re-issues. "The Headmaster Ritual" was a protest against physical punishment at schools. A theme also visited on Pink Floyd's album "The Wall". "Rusholme Ruffians" interpolates the Victoria Wood song "Fourteen Again". "Nowhere fast" may be partly a preview of "The Queen Is Dead", since here Morrissey mentions that "I would like to lower my pants in front of the queen". One of the great hidden gems of the album is "Well I wonder". A slow ballad. In any case, the song is once again an ode to despair, resulting in a marvelous Johnny Marr acoustic guitar line. In the UK "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" was the only single from the album together with the exlclusive single "Shakespeare's Sister" reaching #26 in the UK. The band Shakespears Sister formed by Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit were named after this song. Instead of "Shakespeare's Sister" in the Netherlands they released "The Headmaster Ritual" from the album which is one of their best songs in my opinion. In Italy and Germany the've chosen "Babarism Begins At Home" as a second single.

Singles: "How Soon Is Now", "Shakespeare's Sister", "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore", "The Headmaster Ritual"
Corporal Michael Wynn's 1967 photograph

The album's sleeve uses a 1967 photograph of American marine corporal Michael Wynn in Vietnam. With a modification on the words on his helmet. Originally "Make War Not Love" was written on the helmet. It was changed to "Meat Is Murder". The original image was used for Emile de Antonio's 1968 Oscar-nominated documentary In the Year of the Pig.

Single cover "Babarbarism Begins At Home"

The key to "Meat Is Murder" is that it's confirming The Smiths as one of the great groups of the decade. What perhaps nobody sensed is that the group would not advance beyond 2 years seen and in 1987 they would disintegrate because of the fragile egos balance between Morrissey and Marr. Morrissey went solo and Marr joined the bands The The and Electronic for a short period and worked with other artists including The Pretenders and Bryan Ferry (with a reworked instrumental Smiths song "Money Changes Everything" titled as "The Right Stuff" including vocals).

Original album cover

Meat Is Murder (1985)
The Headmaster Ritual / Rusholme Ruffians / I Want the One I Can't Have / What She Said / That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore / (How Soon Is Now) / Nowhere Fast / Well I Wonder / Barbarism Begins at Home / Meat Is Murder


The Headmaster Ritual

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

How Soon is Now (Official Promo)

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