The Smiths: Meat Is Murder Production Notes

Production Notes

In October 1984, The Smiths made the daily schlep of 30 miles from Manchester to Amazon Studios, in an industrial estate in Kirkby. The band had recorded their self-titled debut album with John Porter but now they wanted a more powerful sound.


Stephen Street [HFN Jun '18] was a young in-house engineer at Island Studio and a fan of the group since seeing them perform on Top Of The Pops and had volunteered for the March 1984 sessions for the single 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now'.

The band wanted to produce the album themselves, but had got on well with Street and invited him in to engineer it at Amazon. Street would get his sound while they were setting-up, by patching in some delays and reverbs and concentrating on a particular snare sound that he felt suited the vibe of the song, including an 'aggressive' gated sound as a contrast to the comparatively gentle mood of 'Well I Wonder'.

Typically the songs were recorded with Marr, Rourke and Joyce laying down a reference track, with the rhythm section going back to re-record around the guitar. Morrissey would be in the studio listening and bassist Andy Rourke recalls the excitement when he began doing vocal takes, as this was the first time anyone had heard the lyrics.

The Smiths then decamped to the residential studio, Ridge Farm in Dorking, Surrey. Overdubs were added and the title track was worked up over a click track with Marr's piano chords reverse-echoed to contribute to the uneasy atmosphere. For the abattoir sounds, Morrissey gave Street a BBC sound effects album and he slowed down recordings of cows and machinery to make them appear more sinister.