Meat Is Murder

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Meat Is Murder
Studio album by
Released11 February 1985
LabelRough Trade, Sire
ProducerThe Smiths
The Smiths chronology
Hatful of Hollow
Meat Is Murder
The Queen Is Dead
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
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[3]
Blender3/5 stars[4]
Chicago Tribune2/4 stars[5]
Q4/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[8]
Sounds4.5/5 stars[10]
Uncut4/5 stars[11]
The Village VoiceC+[12]

Meat Is Murder is the second studio album by English rock band the Smiths, released on 11 February 1985 by Rough Trade Records. It became the band's only studio album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart, and stayed on the chart for thirteen weeks. The album was an international success: it spent 11 weeks in the European Top 100 Albums chart,[13] peaking at number 29.[14] It also reached number 110 on the US Billboard 200, in the United States.

Writing and recording[edit]

After the band's 1984 debut album, singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr produced the album themselves, assisted only by engineer Stephen Street. They had first met Stephen Street on the session for "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and requested his contact number.[15] Officially, the record's production is credited to "The Smiths".

To build the album's soundscape, Morrissey provided Marr and Street with his personal copies of BBC sound effects records from which to source samples.[16] Morrissey would continue this practice on future Smiths singles and albums.

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),[17] 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. "Rusholme Ruffians" interpolates the Victoria Wood song "Fourteen Again". Author John King has suggested that the title track was inspired by the 1983 song "Meat Means Murder" by the anarcho-punk band Conflict, which deals with the same topic and also opens at a slow pace.[18]

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".[19] Similarly, he began to staunchly promote vegetarianism in live shows and interviews, on one occasion convincing a Scottish TV show to air footage of slaughterhouses during the dinner hour.[20]

Cover art[edit]

The album's sleeve uses a 1967 photograph of an American marine, Cpl. Michael Wynn, in Vietnam, 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 Oscar-nominated documentary In the Year of the Pig.[21][22][23]


In 2003, Meat Is Murder was ranked number 295 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[24] and 296 in a 2012 revised list.[25] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[26]

Use in other media[edit]

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.[27][28][29]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Morrissey; all music is composed by Johnny Marr.

Side one
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
Side two
1."Nowhere Fast"2:37
2."Well I Wonder"4:00
3."Barbarism Begins at Home"6:57
4."Meat Is Murder"6:06
US edition and post-1992 to before 2011 UK WEA re-issues
6."How Soon Is Now?"6:44


  • "How Soon Is Now?" was added to the American edition and to post-1992 UK WEA re-issues, as track 6. The 2011 remaster restored the original UK track listing.



Chart (1985) Position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[34] 58
European Top 100 Albums[14] 29
Canada[35] 40
Dutch Albums[36] 39
German Albums[37] 45
New Zealand Albums[38] 13
Swedish Albums[39] 27
UK Albums Chart[40] 1
US Billboard 200[41] 110

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Gold 100,000^
United States 245,385+[43]

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Daley, David (9 December 2012). "The Smiths: Best band ever?". Salon. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  2. ^ Hayden, Mack (10 February 2015). "Meat Is Murder, 30 Years Later". Paste. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Meat Is Murder – The Smiths". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  4. ^ Power, Tony (15 September 2004). "The Smiths: Meat Is Murder". Blender. Archived from the original on 30 June 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  5. ^ Kot, Greg (7 July 1991). "The Smiths And Solo". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  6. ^ Wolk, Douglas (18 November 2011). "The Smiths: The Smiths Complete". Pitchfork. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  7. ^ "The Smiths: Meat Is Murder". Q (87): 139. December 1993.
  8. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "The Smiths". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 753–54. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  9. ^ Harrison, Andrew (May 1993). "The Smiths". Select (35): 104.
  10. ^ Black, Bill (16 February 1985). "Steak Your Claim". Sounds.
  11. ^ Dalton, Stephen (1998). "The Smiths: Meat Is Murder". Uncut.
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert (25 June 1985). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  13. ^ "European Hot 100 Albums Chart" (PDF). Music & Media. 6 May 1985. p. 26. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  14. ^ a b "European Hot 100 Albums Chart" (PDF). Music & Media. 4 March 1985. p. 26. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Interview With Stephen Street". HitQuarters. 27 September 2005. Archived from the original on 3 June 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  16. ^ a b Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 151.
  17. ^ "How Morrissey helped turn vegetarianism into a mainstream movement in the UK". Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  18. ^ King, John (6 August 2014). "Meat Means Murder". Rebellion Festivals Programme - 2014. Rebellion Festivals Ltd. pp. 34–35. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  19. ^ Green, Jonathan (18 November 2004). "Band Aid vs. Morrissey ..." (http). Retrieved 22 April 2007.
  20. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff; Rockmaker, Deirdre; Mathews, Dan (November 1985). "Greening of Rock". Vegetarian Times. No. 99. United States: Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 32–36. ISSN 0164-8497. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  21. ^ The Artwork of the Smiths - in pictures|Music|The Guardian
  22. ^ In the Year of the Pig 1968,directed by Emile de Antonio|Time Out
  23. ^ The Smiths – The Stories Behind All 27 Of Their Provocative Album And Single Sleeves - NME
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ "PETA Gets The Smiths Back Together … for a Video Game", Washington DC: Associations Now. 15 August 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2017
  28. ^ Jonze, Tim (11 August 2016). "This Beautiful Creature Must Die: what is Morrissey's animal rights game like?". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  29. ^ Reed, Ryan (10 August 2016). "The Smiths' 'Meat Is Murder' Becomes Dark PETA Arcade Game". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  30. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 356.
  31. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 137.
  32. ^ Kaminer, M, 1985. Smiths: Their latest release keeps up the pace of their first. Columbia Daily Spectator, 25 April 1985. 12.
  33. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 142.
  34. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 279. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  35. ^ "RPM Chart Archives, 27 April 1985". Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  36. ^ The Smiths - Meat Is Murder -
  37. ^ Offizielle Deutsche Charts - Offizielle Deutsche Charts
  38. ^ - The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
  39. ^ - The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
  40. ^ SMITHS | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company
  41. ^ "The Smiths - chart history". Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  42. ^ "British album certifications – The Smiths – Meat Is Murder". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Meat Is Murder in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  43. ^ Morrissey/Smiths US album sales in 2007 and total sales since 1992-Morrissy-solo

External links[edit]