The Smiths second, or third helping depending on how you’re counting, kicks off with the Headmaster Ritual which plants a flag, and sets the subject matter of this record on terra firma. Both Morrissey and Marr’s childhood school days, spent in Manchester’s Catholic School system were less than genial or engaging especially for the shy awkward lead singer of the (1984) hottest band in the UK. Songs like Rusholme Ruffians, Nowhere Fast and the candid Barbarism begins at home, bring home the point that for Stephen Morrissey, grade, middle, and high school where less than ideal with more than his share of bullying from peers and adults alike.
During a visit to Marr’s primary school, Sacred Heart, while speaking to a group of children, Morrissey was quoted saying, “Lots of the words I write are about school and the horrible times that I had, and in a strange way it’s like revenge on all those horrible teachers that made life miserable for me. So I think it really should be a lesson to all present day teachers that they really do have to treat their pupils with maximum care…”
Meat is Murder is a brilliant, scathing essay, put to words and punctuated by Marr’s exceptional musical artistry. At little over a year and midway through the band’s term the Smiths were at full stride with this record.