NOTE: This album is #295 on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of All Time.
The Smiths had released their debut album The Smiths
one year before, and had also released a collection of B-sides, BBC recordings, alternate tracks and such as Hatful of Hollow
. Meat is Murder
was their second album of all-new material (save "How Soon is Now?" which was also available on Hatful
). The Smiths were gaining fame in England at the time of this album's release.
Their first album wasn't exactly a roaring success, but it is now recognized as a pillar of alt/indie music, one of the "required albums" of the genre. The album did sell fairly well though, and expectations were high for their second album. Some say they disappointed: Meat is Murder
is commonly regarded as the Smiths' worst studio effort. While it is far from being a terrible record (it is actually quite impressive), it pales in comparison to the incredible potential displayed on their first album, which they finally lived up to with their third effort, The Queen is Dead
. But despite not being their best album, Meat is Murder
has some incredible strong points.
The Headmaster Ritual
This song begins with a draw out introduction, and while it isn't exactly boring, it is a little too much of a winding way to begin an album. Of course, when Morrissey's vocals kick in, the song picks up quite nicely. This is a tale of the headmaster at Morrissey's Manchester school, presumably. It has some plain lyrics (I want to go home/I don't want to stay), along with some rather humorous and "provocative" lyrics (he does the military two-step/Down the nape of my neck). A nice pop-indie song, no complaints. Musically, I would say it is superior to the Smiths
, a signal that Marr was definitely developing his sounds. Morrissey was standard on the track.
This song has a very poppy, "circus" feel. The bass line is very catchy, and this album features some of Rourke's best work. It is a tale of a fair, the lyrics tell the story quite well. Some people may be turned off by the music, but I find the lyrics to be genius. Morrissey is recognized as one of the better lyricists of our time, and this song is a great example of this.
Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
This means, you really love me
This is just one of the many great lines found in this song.
I Want the One I Can't Have
This is an amazingly catchy song. Much shorter than the other two (only about 3 minutes long), it is a great pop-indie tune. This one seems to be about coming out of the closet (On the day that your mentality/catches up with your biology/Come round/Because I want the one I can't have), but the meaning has probably been disputed. The lyrics are excellent (If you ever need self-validation/just meet me in the alley by the railway station), the music is incredibly catchy, and it is an all around great song.
What She Said
This song has been noted for its similarities with the Beatles' song "She Said, She Said":
What she said: "How come someone
Hasn't noticed That I'm dead?"
she said: "I know what it's like to be dead"
Still, it is quite a great song. It features another one of Mozza's great lyrics (I smoke/because I'm hoping for an early death/and I need to cling to something), and another catchy Marr tune. Nothing to complain about here either.
That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
Another self-pitying Smiths song, the kind we have come to know and love. Many casual fans know this song, as it was on a few complations (such as Singles
). A slowish song, with excellent lyrics. They are funny at times (You should know/time's tide with smother you/and I will too), and overall this is another great Smiths tune.
How Soon is Now?
This is perhaps the most well-known Smiths song, next to "There is a Light That Never Goes Out". It is quite a catchy song, the lyrics aren't stunning or anything, but they work with the song:
There's a club if you'd like to go
You could meet somebody
who really loves you
So you go and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home
and you cry and you want to die.
I have trouble rating this song because I have heard it sooo many times that I now skip over it (it gets difficult to listen to the same riff for 7 minutes...), but if you are new to this song, it is quite a fun one to hear, and it certainly deserves its popularity.
This is one of my favourite songs, lyrically. Moz is at his best with wittyness and humour in this song. It is a fast-paceed, high energy song... nothing to deep, just good fun.
I'd like to drop my trouser to the Queen
Every sensible child will know what this means
...and the song features one of my favourite lines of all time:
And when I'm lying in my bed
I think about life and I think about death
And neither one
particularly appeals to me
This guy is good, trust me.
Well I Wonder
This is perhaps one of the best Smiths songs around, certainly the most underrated in my opinion. The music is beautiful, and Morrissey soars vocally. Lyrically it isn't the best he has done, but it is far from the worst. He also shows off his newly-improved falsetto, which was more comical than talented on the first album. This is a beautiful song, I recommend everyone download it/buy it, whatever. It is excellent. At the end of the track, you can hear rain falling. I have been told that this is actually the sound of meat frying (ties in with album title and the song Meat is Murder
), but I do not know if this is true.
Barbarism Begins at Home
This song is quite a catchy one, and it features what I would consider to be Rourke's best bassline. Incredibly catchy, Marr's guitar is funky, Morrissey's yelping is humorous, and it is an all together great song. They really stretch it out for the last couple minutes of the song, just playing the same riff over and over. Since it is such a catchy riff I can forgive them, but after a while I usually end up skipping to the next song. Despite that, it is a great tune.
Meat is Murder
This song takes a while to settle in, it starts of with various sound effects and animal noises. I find this song to be too over-induglent, it just doesn't work for me. During the middle of the song, when things have settle in, it is quite a good song. Morrissey's lyrics have a point, promoting vegetarianism (it's death for no reason/and death for no reason is murder
), but the eccentricities and sound effects are too over the top, it just doesn't work for me.
Overall this is quite a good album. I gave rather high ratings to most song, and that is because I believe that individually they are great songs. But they don't really flow well together, so as an album it isn't as good. If you are new to the Smiths, I would start out with the Queen is Dead
, move on to the Smiths
, then Strangeways
. If you've made it that far, you are sure to enjoy this album. But as a casual listener that isn't really into the Smiths, I'd go with other Smiths albums, this one isn't the best way to start.
Smith fans 4.5/5
Fans of genre 3.5/5
outside genre 2.5/5