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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Song of the Week: The Smiths - "The Headmaster Ritual"

It's 1985. Manchester, England is flooded with up-and-coming or already-there rock bands, and time would reveal that The Smiths are the cream of the crop. Following the release of their self-titled debut, Morrissey, Johnny Marr, and the rest come out with "Meat is Murder," a much more political album than its predecessor. The album opens with "The Headmaster Ritual," which is most known for its chorus, during which there are no lyrics, yet Morrissey still sings nonsensical "da-da-da's" and similar babbles. The legendary British singer's lyrics portray corporal punishment in schools scathingly at a time during which the practice was still very common.

The song still stands out as one of The Smiths' best, and rightfully so. The interplay between Marr's furiously-strummed guitar and Andy Rourke's noticeably potent bass line. Marr is a master of guitar riffs, and is widely considered to be the king of '80's alt rock in that regard. The track, though significantly longer than most of the band's other hits (save "How Soon Is Now?"), is relatively straightforward, and there's nothing wrong with that. The Smiths were known for making great singles and catchy hooks, and "The Headmaster Ritual" is just one example of that.

Listen to a live performance & accompanying video for the song below, and also hear Radiohead's cover of the tune during a live podcast back in 2007.



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