A Musical Slaughter: The delicious Meat is Murder by The Smiths
& the Birth of a Vegetarian Anthem!

The Smiths - Meat Is Murder

For #turntabletuesday curated by +walt sprinkle and for #vinyl by +Shane Remington for British deathmatch with +Andrew Westbury

What we have here is ‘the long awaited’ 33 1/3 rpm (2011) 180 gm audiophile quality reissue vinyl of the ORIGINAL UK version Meat is Murder remastered by Johnny Marr off of RHINO Vinyl (http://www.rhino.com/shop/product/the-smiths-meat-murder). This was both their 2nd album from 1985 (as well as title track) and the ONLY album of The Smiths to reach #1 on the UK charts. The album cover designed by Morrissey is actually the poster of Emile de Antonio’s In the Year of The Pig, with the insignia “Make Love Not War" changed. The US version eventually contained their b-side smash ‘How Soon is Now’ (which many have put forth is the best single of all time). This reissue does NOT and is faithful to the original UK version. ( do not buy this reissue vinyl if you want the hit How Soon is Now)
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And so they came during the 80’s (1 if by land 2 if by sea) marking the end of synth-pop and New Wave invasion and the beginning of indie guitar rock in Britain and the world. Morrissey, the chief lyricist in the band, became famous crafting brilliant, witty, even humorous melodies and lyrics about the everyday man as well as 'the pedestrian' (Girlfriend in a Coma, Some girls Are Bigger Than Others) with a subtle use of irony that garnered the band a cult status and eventually himself iconic status (As one writer notes, ‘it usually takes a singer to die before they become this kind of legend’.) The second album was increasingly ‘political’ as were Morrissey’s activities IRL. And the title track here, Meat is Murder, is very controversial. Appearing militant and oppressive to many and standing in extreme opposition to the slick musical styling’s of their hit How Soon is Now The Smiths "How Soon Is Now?" the track Meat is Murder is often ignored off this album by critics and dismissed by fans.

But what we have here is the heart and soul of Morrissey and The Smiths (Marr has stated that this song is his proudest moment and many vegetarian have credited this song as showing them the light). Gone is the humor, the dry brittle wit and the brilliant irony that dominated their complex work—the light ditties and sweet charming melodies that slid in their venomous sting. Here, so uniquely, is Marr and Morissey’s take on ‘animal cruelty’ with their heart and passion laid bare, like an open wound. This is Morrisey’s conviction and it reads or ‘hears’ like a musical treatise. If words can persuade and music can influence (which it can and does), then this is Morrissey’s conviction if not plea: Meat is Murder. Do you believe him?

The opening intro is a masterpiece of terror (have you heard musical terror?) This is not Friday-the-13th kind of slasher terror. This is another kind of terror all together. This is real-life death or shall I say murder…Morrissey and the Smiths place you THERE in that surreal place just before… like a death row inmate walking the long mile. That strange sort of other-worldly sound you hear is the slightly off intonation or unusual harmonies and eerie dissonance occurring from Marr strumming a genius riff in open G (open tuning). Then a chorus of ‘noise’ enters—distant moaning sounds of cattle (the terror awaiting you), slices of the knife (the scavengers circling carrion overhead) and industrial utterings of mechanized organized killing– and finally at long last -Morrissey’s deadly calm almost angelic voice hovers just above --poised and ready --to lull you into the slaughter with these words…

A heifer whines
Could be human cries
Closer comes the screaming knife…

Laboring, plodding rhythms continue and pull the listener on, like an exhausted animal giving up the fight. Marr’s guitar continues to slide in and out of pitch. And as you, the listener, finally succumb to what you know is inevitable, Morrissey’s once calm voice has turned increasingly tense, frantic and he begins to ask, do you know how animals die?

and then cry,
this beautiful creature must die
this beautiful creature must die…
as you savor the flavor of murder

then begging,
It’s death for no reason, A death for no reason is MURDER.

and then finally screaming at the end…
NO. NO. NO. IT’S MURDER.

The lyric Its murder is in all caps on the sleeve of the album (see lyrics included) ending not with an exclamation point but with a period. It’s a statement. There is no longer any question. The Smiths (and the composition) reach their musical conclusion. The last sound you hear is the final slash of the knife and then…the sound of silence. (see Cage - silence is music - 4 min 33 secs) This musical Dies Irae is complete. And with this end Morrissey pleads his case and delivers his vegetarian anthem into the world. You may or may not be convinced that meat is murder… but there is little doubt after first hearing this.. that you have just heard a musical slaughter. It is both terrifying and hauntingly beautiful.

#Meatismurder #TheSmiths #thesmiths #morrissey #music #vinyl #recordcollection #indierock #guitar #vegetarian #welovemusic #animalcruelty #musicology #britain #brittish #UK #brittishmusic #goth #newwave #melodicpop #musicalmurder
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