The Smiths A-Z: "The Headmaster Ritual"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member






Next up in our Smiths A-Z project is this song, the lead-off track from the Meat Is Murder album of 1985. It was released as a single in the Netherlands in the summer of that year and then as a CD-single by Rough Trade in the UK in late 1988.

The song was played live 40 times by the Smiths (all in 1985) - and has been played 20 times live by Morrissey.

What do we think?
 

Carlislebaz

Cock of the north
Not a song I would search for, but is a good album track.
It goes on to long for my liking but has some great lines in it.
And as always the guitars are blistering.
A solid song just not a fave of mine .

7/10
 

The.Truth.

Every.Single.Time.
I like anything that gives a voice to the youth who may not have the power to speak for themselves. Not as good as "Barbarism Begins At Home" but miles above "Children In Pieces."
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
As a teacher (and very much one of the "belligerent ghouls") I adore this song. Along with WIW it is my favourite track on the album and one that makes me dance (even if its just in my head) whenever I hear it. Funky, touching, aggressive...wonderful.

The slightly 'lumpy' version from the Manchester 2004 homecoming gig went to show how incredible Rourke and Marr actually were - Jaysus, those boys could play!
 

Nikita

Senior Member
It is just amazing, I remember the goose bumps I got when I first heard "He grabs and devours, he kicks me in the showers, kicks me in the showers, and grabs and devours".
 
S

SRS

Guest
Absolutely brilliant. The best of The Smiths. 60% of the genius in this is coming from Johnny (probably his best song) but the combination of them both here is nuts.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Most Smiths and Moz solo albums had great opening tracks, this one being no exception. I love it.
The track sets the tone for the whole album ras, brutal, violent— the soundtrack to Morrissey’s youthful years.
I remember feeling quite shocked by the revelations in the song. School brutality wasn’t discussed at the time.
For all the he avinés of the subject matter, I find the bruises bagger than donner plates comparison quite hilarious.
Finally, it also features great guitar work from Johnny.
 
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Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Johnny and Moz both smashing it out of the park, amazing. An aggressive sound and lyrics that get straight to the point - I love the tone of his voice and the slight pause between "Spineless... bastards all!"

Another song that is pure Smiths, that only Moz and Marr could write.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
A high quality song, of course, and I can completely see why it is one of the group's most loved recordings.

Not an absolute fave of mine, but Johnny deserves huge credit for both the tune (influenced by George Harrison) and doing the lion's share of the production.


Just to show other viewpoints and not because they should be considered in any way definitive...

In the poll on this board this song ranked 7th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 4th from 73 of the group's songs.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
A high quality song, of course, and I can completely see why it is one of the group's most loved recordings.

Not an absolute fave of mine, but Johnny deserves huge credit for both the tune (influenced by George Harrison) and doing the lion's share of the production.


Just to show other viewpoints and not because they should be considered in any way definitive...

In the poll on this board this song ranked 7th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 4th from 73 of the group's songs.
Wow, I had no idea this would rank so highly in those polls! It's a great song (and one of those rare Smiths songs where Marr's work genuinely outshines Morrissey's), but I'd never have it in my top 25.
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
To me, this is The Smiths,, in the way that Reel Around, Suffer Little and Queen is, are The Smiths.

They hit every box with this one.
Creating an atmosphere which any child who went to school can understand, especially British/Irish schools. It reeks of Kes and Grange Hill, this is one of the songs I suggest is more powerful if you are British/Irish - not saying you don't get it if you Are French or American, just not in the same way, the reason I and others name drop Kes is due that being such a British film the atmosphere created is kind of British kitchen sink.

Meat is Murder is a kitchen sink LP, in some way.

I disagree with the comment saying Marr outshines M on this, say like on How Soon Is now? I think its 50/50


Sorry about the edits-, my phone kept sending it before I had finished .ANNOYING. Then I saw the comment saying Marr outshining M on this

Radiohead covered this and Marrs parts they equalled, it was only let down in the vocal area, as Thom can't match M with Vocal
 
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Southport Grandma

Active Member
Incendiary guitars, a baseline that could be a song on its own and then those lyrics with that delivery. As others have said this is The Smiths. The drumming as also apposite.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The opening is brilliant, then Johnny comes in with an IMMENSE guitar riff. Then amazingly Andy comes in with a bass line which is completely different but just as compelling, so you're not sure which to focus on. Even before Morrissey's contribution, you know this is going to be a classic.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Interestingly, apparently this was the only song where Johnny recommended Morrissey change the lyrics, and amend "bruises bigger than dinner plates" to "bruises as big as dinner plates". He was ignored at the time so never tried to interfere again, but it must have lodged somewhere in Moz's consciousness, as he changed the line when he started playing it live as a solo artist decades later.
 
D

Deleted member 30764

Guest
I actually like the music better than the lyrics and that’s not usually the case for me.
This isn’t a song I especially like, though. I don’t exactly know why, but this isn’t a song I would go out of my way to listen to.

However, I sometimes have very strange taste preferences.
Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others is one of my favorite songs of theirs––in particular because of the dark humor of it.
The same thing with regards to Morrissey’s solo music; I dislike some of his most ”popular“ songs.
 
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Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Interestingly, apparently this was the only song where Johnny recommended Morrissey change the lyrics, and amend "bruises bigger than dinner plates" to "bruises as big as dinner plates". He was ignored at the time so never tried to interfere again, but it must have lodged somewhere in Moz's consciousness, as he changed the line when he started playing it live as a solo artist decades later.
Yep and I think he sings that line in "Who Put The M" as well.
 

ringrosso

Throbbing Member
One a my favourites. Probs in my top 10.
 

Bizarro

Spotlight. It's time the tale were told !
Times have changed. They shouldn't have let WW2 front-line soldiers return to school teaching after the war.
I had a WWII frontline soldier, evacuated off of Dunkirk beach teach me at School... great old guy.
I had bastard teachers who had no military background.
Why should soldiers be excluded from teaching ?
 
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