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Meat Is Murder

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Meat Is Murder is the second studio album by English rock band the Smiths. It was released on 11 February 1985 by Rough Trade Records and became the band's sole number one album in the UK charts during the band's lifetime, staying on the chart for thirteen weeks. The album reached number 40 in Canada[12] and number 110 in the US.

Meat Is Murder
Studio album by The Smiths
Released 11 February 1985
Recorded Winter 1984
Studio Amazon Studios, Liverpool and Ridge Farm, Surrey, England
Length 39:46
46:16 (US version)
Producer The Smiths
The Smiths chronology
Hatful of Hollow
(1984)Hatful of Hollow1984
Meat Is Murder
The Queen Is Dead
(1986)The Queen Is Dead1986
Singles from Meat Is Murder
  1. "Barbarism Begins at Home"
    Released: April 1985
  2. "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
    Released: 1 July 1985
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
Blender 3/5 stars[3]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[4]
Pitchfork 8.1/10[5]
Q 4/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[7]
Select 4/5[8]
Sounds 4.5/5 stars[9]
Uncut 4/5 stars[10]
The Village Voice C+[11]


Writing and recordingEdit

After the relative production disappointment of the band's 1984 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.[13] 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),[14] 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" respectively.

In the NME article "Flying the Flag or Flirting with Disaster?",[15] "Rusholme Ruffians" was one of the tracks cited in reference to accusations of racism against Morrissey. The magazine noted the implications of placing the song's antagonists in Rusholme, one of Manchester's most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods.

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."[16]

To build upon the album's soundscape Morrissey provided Marr and Street with his personal copies of BBC sound effects records to source for samples.[17] Morrissey would continue this practice on future Smiths singles and albums.


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 song "How Soon Is Now?", originally issued as the B-side of "William, It Was Really Nothing", was added on both the US 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 were also used as B-sides of singles — "Well I Wonder" (on the "How Soon Is Now?" single) and "What She Said" (on the "Shakespeare's Sister" single). 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,[18] though with the wording on his helmet changed from "Make War Not Love" to "Meat Is Murder". The original image was used for Emile de Antonio's 1968 documentary In the Year of the Pig.


In 2003, Meat Is Murder was ranked number 295 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[19] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[20]

Use in other mediaEdit

Part of the recording of the album was featured in a 1985 episode of the BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test.

In 2016, animal rights advocacy group PETA released a video game titled “This Beautiful Creature Must Die,” based on the song Meat Is Murder. The game, which featured a chiptune rendition of the song, tasked players with clicking on their screens before different kinds of animals get chopped up in a death spiral.[21]

Track listingEdit

All tracks written 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 US edition and to post-1992 UK WEA re-issues, as track 6. The 2011 remaster restored the original UK track listing.



Year Chart Position
1985 Dutch Albums 39[27]
1985 German Albums 45[28]
1985 New Zealand Albums 13[29]
1985 Swedish Albums 27[30]
1985 UK Albums Chart 1[31]
1985 US Billboard 200 110[32]

Certifications and salesEdit

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[33] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[34] none 245,385[35]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Meat Is Murder – The Smiths". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Power, Tony (15 September 2004). "The Smiths: Meat Is Murder". Blender. Archived from the original on 30 June 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (7 July 1991). "The Smiths And Solo". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Wolk, Douglas (18 November 2011). "The Smiths: The Smiths Complete". Pitchfork. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "The Smiths: Meat Is Murder". Q (87): 139. December 1993. 
  7. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "The Smiths". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 753–54. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  8. ^ Harrison, Andrew (May 1993). "The Smiths". Select (35): 104. 
  9. ^ Black, Bill (16 February 1985). "Steak Your Claim". Sounds. 
  10. ^ Dalton, Stephen (1998). "The Smiths: Meat Is Murder". Uncut. 
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (25 June 1985). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  12. ^ RPM Chart Archives, 27 April 1985
  13. ^ "Interview With Stephen Street". HitQuarters. 27 September 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "How Morrissey helped turn vegetarianism into a mainstream movement in the UK". Retrieved 2016-01-05. 
  15. ^ NME, 22 August 1992
  16. ^ "Band Aid vs. Morrissey ..." (http). 18 November 2004. Retrieved 22 April 2007. 
  17. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 151.
  18. ^ "Soldier Rests". September 21, 1967. Retrieved June 11, 2016.  Bettmann image 514703444 with caption "Da Nang, South Vietnam: Marine Cpl. Michael Wynn, 20, of Columbus, Ohio, seems to be trying to get a message across with a takeoff of the hippie slogan 'make war not love' written on his helmet here. Wynn is taking a breather during Operation Ballistic Charge. 9/21/67"
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2. 
  21. ^ "PETA Gets The Smiths Back Together … for a Video Game", Washington DC: Associations Now. August 15, 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2017
  22. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 356.
  23. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 137.
  24. ^ Kaminer, M, 1985. Smiths: Their latest release keeps up the pace of their first. Columbia Daily Spectator, 25 April 1985. 12.
  25. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 142.
  26. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 151.
  27. ^ The Smiths - Meat Is Murder -
  28. ^ Offizielle Deutsche Charts - Offizielle Deutsche Charts
  29. ^ - The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
  30. ^ - The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
  31. ^ SMITHS | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company
  32. ^ "The Smiths - chart history". Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  33. ^ "British album certifications – The Smiths – Meat Is Murder". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Meat Is Murder in the search field and then press Enter.
  34. ^ "American certifications – Morrissey – Meat Is Murder". Recording Industry Association of America. 
  35. ^

External linksEdit