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The Headmaster Ritual

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Title: The Headmaster Ritual  
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The Headmaster Ritual

This article is about the album by The Smiths. For the book, see Meat is Murder (book).

Meat Is Murder
The Smiths
Released 11 February 1985
Recorded Winter 1984 at Amazon Studios, Liverpool and Ridge Farm, Surrey, England
Genre Alternative rock, indie pop
Length 39:46
Label Rough Trade (UK), Sire (US)
Producer The Smiths
The Smiths chronology

The Smiths
Meat Is Murder
The Queen Is Dead
Singles from Meat Is Murder
  1. "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
    Released: 1 July 1985
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[1]
BBC (satisfactory)[2]
Blender 3/5 stars[3]
Pitchfork (8.1/10)
Robert Christgau C+[4]
Q 4/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone (favourable)[6]

Meat Is Murder is the second studio album by the English 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. The album reached number 40 in Canada[7] and number 110 in the US.

In 2003, Meat Is Murder was ranked number 296 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[8]

Writing and recording

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, whom they had first met on the session for "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and requested the contact number of.[9] Officially, the record's production is credited to "The Smiths", with Rourke and Joyce allowed say about their instruments' sound-levels in the mixing.

Meat Is Murder 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), and the anti-corporal punishment "The Headmaster Ritual". Musically, the band had grown more adventurous, with Marr and Rourke channelling rockabilly and funk influences in "Rusholme Ruffians" and "Barbarism Begins at Home".

Morrissey also brought a political stance to many of his interviews, courting further controversy. Among his targets were the Thatcher administration, the monarchy and his musical contemporaries. When asked about Band Aid, which was being strongly promoted in the UK media at the time, he quipped, "One can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia, but it's another thing to inflict daily torture on the people of England."[10]


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, which peaked at 49. The success of September 1985's "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side", however, was an indication of bigger things to come.

The song "How Soon Is Now?", originally issued as the B-side of "William, It Was Really Nothing", was added on both the U.S. and Canadian editions of Meat Is Murder after becoming a success in North 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. The 2011 remaster of Meat Is Murder restored the album's original UK track listing.


The album's sleeve uses a 1967 photograph of Marine Cpl. Michael Wynn in the Vietnam War,[11] though with the wording on his helmet changed from "Make War Not Love" to "Meat Is Murder". The English version had one large version of the picture, while the American version had 4 pictures. The original image was used for Emile de Antonio's 1968 documentary In the Year of the Pig.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Morrissey and Johnny Marr. 
No. Title Length
1. "The Headmaster Ritual"   4:52
2. "Rusholme Ruffians"   4:20
3. "I Want the One I Can't Have"   3:14
4. "What She Said"   2:42
5. "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"   4:59
6. "Nowhere Fast"   2:37
7. "Well I Wonder"   4:00
8. "Barbarism Begins at Home"   6:57
9. "Meat Is Murder"   6:06
  • "How Soon Is Now?" was added to the U.S. edition and to post-1992 UK WEA re-issues, as track 6. The 2011 remaster restored the original UK track listing.



External links

  • Radio3Net (streamed copy where licensed)
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