The Smiths
Meat Is Murder


3.5
great

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
June 8th, 2012 | 32 replies | 2,483 views


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Close to the bone…

By 1985 The Smiths had already transcended the notions of what an indie band could and should be, having scored high single chart positions, appeared on Top of the Pops multiple times, and released 2 acclaimed records – their eponymous debut plus the essential compilation, Hatful of Hallow. It doesn’t require a profound mind to comprehend that from these factors, Morrissey, Marr and the boys had great pressure and expectations to meet, but with Meat is Murder, sadly fell a little short.

Having said that, it must be known that Meat is far from a bad album – at times its brilliant LP in fact, just a tad disappointing when compared to its antecedents. The set opens to one of the most instantly propulsive and energetic tracks in the band’s catalogue, ‘The Headmaster Ritual’. Marr’s lead steals the show, flowing boundlessly in front of an ideal bass performance from Andy Rourke. The song doesn’t feature a traditional structure, and Morrissey’s indecipherable wails (appearing after his verses about existence in a cruel, corporal punishment style school, run by “belligerent ghouls” who dish out “bruises bigger than dinner plates”) serve as both the chorus and part of the rambling melody.

‘Barbarism Begins at Home’ features a similar juvenile theme, with its tale of unruly boys and girls “who must be taken in hand”. Musically it’s almost as brilliant again – a near-funk rhythm section and jumpy guitars mark a piece best appreciated for its instrumental quality, as Morrissey repeats the same few lines throughout the 7 minute runtime. The hook “a crack on the head is what you for asking /and a crack on the head is what you get for not asking” is worth a mention however, as it shows off Morrissey’s sarcastic wit more than many Smiths detractors would care to mention, or even notice at all.

The other big hitter here is ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’, and while it doesn’t break any new ground for the group it does soundly deliver more of their crucial miserable side, with Morrissey’s drone of a joke that is no longer easy to accept, due to it being “too close to home” and “too near the bone”. ‘Nowhere Fast’ is a jaunty little ditty that’s also not too lyrically jolly, but perhaps a little tongue in cheek (something which must always be taken into account with the genius of Mozza), with the line “and if the day came when I felt a natural emotion / I’d get such a shock I’d probably jump in the ocean”.

Unfortunately the remaining tracks just don’t hit home the same as the aforementioned, for individual reasons. ‘Rusholme Ruffians’ is a stab at rockabilly that falls a little flat, while ‘What She Said’s out-of-place hard rock fails to grab that much attention given its racket. ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’ and ‘Well I Wonder’ are pleasant enough but not as hooky or memorable as they needed to be, while the title track flirts dangerously close to embarrassing more than any other song in their frighteningly near-perfect catalogue. Its cow sound effects are awkward; its melody not that strong and its lyrics annoyingly preachy, to say the least.

All in all, Meat is Murder is an inconsistent disc that can’t help but feel a touch disappointing after the band’s stellar previous efforts, Ultimately though, it’s not a poor record at all, as over half its tracks or more or less top notch Smith tunes, and 4 great tunes from The Smith are more superior than most band’s 4 strongest tracks. Bare that in mind and Meat is Murder deserves to find a place in all Smiths collections, even if it is served a little more medium-rare than well-done.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
johnnyblaze
June 8th 2012



2595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review guy. that last sentence is win.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

steak analogies ftw ha!

wabbit
June 8th 2012



6977 Comments


BAD analgy cuz rare > welldone



But I really agree with this review. Some of the songs are pretty fucking great But Morrissey is such a bitch

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2012



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review Tom. I take it you're reviewing the original version, without How Soon Is Now?

Probably my least favourite Smiths album, still great though. I for one love the title track.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i'm sure Mozza would like all this meat chatter lol.

thanks ali. yeah, gone for the original version; talked about how soon is now in my hatful of hollow review anyways. same here tbh, defintely their weakest non-comp effort. headmaster ritual rules it for me.

Archelaos
June 8th 2012



241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I feel lonely here in 4-land (on this particular page, I mean). Pretty good review, but some of what
you've written seems a little fluffy and wordy:

The other big hitter here is ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’, and while it doesn’t break any
new ground for the group it does soundly deliver more of their crucial miserable side, with
Morrissey’s drone of a joke that is no longer easy to accept, due to it being “too close to home” and
“too near the bone".


STOP SHOUTING!
June 8th 2012



631 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the title track can't be that bad, it encouraged me to be a vegi. not mad about this album though.

Graveyard
June 8th 2012



5595 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"the title track can't be that bad, it encouraged me to be a vegi."

lol wut?

newjunkaesthetic93
June 8th 2012



1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's probably true that this is the worst Smiths album, but it's still a great listen.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2012



49766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

Graveyard
June 8th 2012



5595 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not even close


wacknizzle
June 8th 2012



12590 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

At least it has How Soon Is Now, that's one of my favorite songs of all time.

Digging: Burrow - The Collapse of Time

Graveyard
June 8th 2012



5595 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^ lol

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2012



49766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hatful has that song anyway

Graveyard
June 8th 2012



5595 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

well least we can all agree that the headmaster ritual is def the best track on here

wacknizzle
June 8th 2012



12590 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

True even though it is a compilation. I should probably pick that album up, I don't have room on my hard drive right now for each Smith's album.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2012



49766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hatful has better versions of half the first album's songs and other awesome tracks

Graveyard
June 8th 2012



5595 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and pretty girls make graaaaaaaaaaaaves

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2012



49766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's not on there

Graveyard
June 8th 2012



5595 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it should be



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