Music

20 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Meat Is Murder

Meat Is Murder was the Smiths' second studio record, following on from the success of their self-titled debut and the Hatful of Hollow compilation. It saw a more strident, self-confident band produce the album themselves, leading to Morrissey making his uncompromising statement on the title track, which closed the record.

Released just over 31 years ago, it has remained a much-loved record amongst fans and still sounds fresh and vital today.

Read on for 20 things that you may not know about Meat Is Murder: see if you can learn something new.

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(Images: Rex)

  • 20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Meat Is Murder

    1

    Stephen Street engineered Meat Is Murder after the band met him during the recording of Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now and requested his phone number.

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    2

    The album was promoted with just one fully commercially-released single, That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore. However, in Holland, The Headmaster Ritual was preferred.

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    3

    A Meat is Murder live EP, recorded at the Oxford Apollo, was planned and reached the test pressing stage, before being abandoned in favour of releasing That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore as a single, with most of the live tracks forming the B-sides. They bear the same catalogue numbers as the single and the same run-off groove etchings.

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    4

    ...and those run-off groove etchings for That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore were 'OUR SOULS OUR SOULS OUR SOULS', while the Canadian 12" featured 'HELEN WHEELS'.

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    5

    The original wording on the helmet of the cover soldier was "make war not love".

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    6

    The line "a tough kid who sometimes swallows nails" in I Want The One I Can't Have is adapted from a description of James Dean ("A tough kid who sometimes sleeps on nails" - Howard Sachler).

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    7

    How Soon Is Now was not part of the original tracklisting. It was originally issued as the B-side to William, It Was Really Nothing, before eventually being released as their next single in the UK, reaching a high of No. 24.

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    8

    The guitar sound on How Soon Is Now was created without effects pedals, using four Fender Twin Reverbs - two on each side of the stereo field. Johnny Marr and John Porter controlled the tremelo on two amplifiers each and had to attempt to keep them all in time with each other for 10 second bursts - it took some considerable time to finish, given that the track lasted six minutes.

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    9

    The riff for The Headmaster Ritual was written when the band were demoing their first album with Troy Tate.

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    10

    Although it didn't receive an initial full commercial release, The Headmaster Ritual was released on 7" and 12" by Megadisc in Holland, was used by Sire to promote the album in the US, and then released as a CD single in the UK in 1988 before being hastily withdrawn, as the cover star of the new artwork, Viv Nicholson, objected to the "spineless bastards" line in the track.

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    11

    The Headmaster Ritual was played with Johnny Marr using open D tuning (D A D F# A D) and a capo on the second fret.

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    12

    Morrissey said that "in virtually every song [on Meat Is Murder] there is some serious message, a serious implication, but it's all done with great humour...I don't want to make it sound trivial, but we're not doom-laden by any means".

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    13

    Meat Is Murder was the only Smiths album to hit number one on the UK's album chart - their other three studio full-lengths (and live album Rank) all only made it to number two.

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    14

    The Meat is Murder vinyl had the run-off etchings "ILLNESS AS ART" and "DOING THE WYTHENSHAWE WALTZ".

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    15

    Barbarism Begins At Home was released as a CD single in Germany, Australia and Italy in 1988 as part of Rough Trade's reissues. It was a double a-side with Shakespeare's Sister. It was originally issued in 1985 as a promo on 12" in the UK though, with the etching "THESE ARE THE GOOD TIMES".

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    16

    Morrissey said that his lyrical style was much stronger and more direct that their debut, saying, "I didn't really have any intention of being misunderstood with the words on this LP. A lot of people wrote about the first LP and they said things that were very poetic and very interesting and absolutely inaccurate. So I just felt that on this LP people should really know which hammer I'm trying to nail, as it were. (Melody Maker, 1985).

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    17

    Johnny Marr has said that for a long time That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore was his favourite Smiths song.

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    18

    The photo of the little boy used for the cover of That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore was used as the backdrop at Morrissey's first solo concert in Wolverhampton in December 1988.

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    19

    The cover still for the album is taken from the 1968 documentary In The Year Of The Pig.

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    20

    In the US, Meat Is Murder was released on Valentine's Day.