"The Headmaster Ritual"
early summer 1985


The Headmaster Ritual
Oscillate Wildly

Holland 7" [Megadisc/CBS MD5290]
UK 7" [Megadisc MD5295 - 2009 reissue]
USA 7" [Sire Records MD5295 / R7 518765 - 2009 reissue]


The Headmaster Ritual
Nowhere Fast (live Oxford 18/3/85)
Stretch Out And Wait (live Oxford 18/3/85)
Shakespeare's Sister (live Oxford 18/3/85)
Meat Is Murder (live Oxford 18/3/85)

Holland 12" [Megadisc/CBS MD125295]


The Headmaster Ritual
Nowhere Fast (live Oxford 18/3/85)
Stretch Out And Wait (live Oxford 18/3/85)
Meat Is Murder (live Oxford 18/3/85)

UK CD5 [Rough Trade RTT215CD]
Australia CD5 [Festival D1079]

Additional information:
When "How Soon Is Now?" came out as a single in the UK on the eve of the release of the "Meat Is Murder" album, Megadisc, who had already released the song as an a-side, preferred a track from the new album, which they put out on 7" only. They picked the catchy "The Headmaster Ritual" and backed it by the "How Soon Is Now?" b-side "Oscillate Wildly". They quickly put together the original single artwork (view left). Later in the year as "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" was about to be released in the UK, Megadisc again preferred the more radio- and club-friendly "The Headmaster Ritual". They released the song on 12", backed it with the same live b-sides as the British "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore", and used brand new Morrissey-designed artwork (view left). They pressed more of the 7"s with the same original b-side, but slipped then inside the new picture artwork instead of the original text one.

When Rough Trade UK decided to re-release some Smiths singles on compact disc in 1988, "The Headmaster Ritual", which didn't originally get a commercial release in the UK in 1985, was chosen as a-side instead of "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore". The cd-single was also released in Australia where the Festival label was following in the footsteps of Rough Trade UK. The cd-single was soon withdrawn in the UK because cover star Viv Nicholson objected to the "spineless bastards" line in the title track. This has made the item highly collectible.

The 7" reissue included in the 2008 "Singles Box" was numbered MD5295 instead of MD5290. Unlike other singles in the box, this one was not sold on its own until Record Store Day on 18 April 2009 when many artists released exclusive vinyl in support of independently owned record shops in the USA and the UK. These out-of-box editions differ from their box set counterpart by many tiny details, such as barcode, glossy sleeve, etc.


Artwork information:
The 7" artwork is a generic typographical jumble on a plain red background. More attention was given to the 12" artwork which used a photograph of a young boy (played by Robert Duncan) dressed in a rodeo outfit, taken from the 1965 movie "The Uncle". Morrissey only designed the 12" artwork.

It must be noted that a very limited number of the 7", most likely repressings, were printed with the 12" artwork.

New artwork was put together for the 1988 cd-single. It showed Viv Nicholson at her easel. Photos of her had already been used on the sleeves of the "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and "Barbarism Begins At Home" singles.

The 2008/2009 reissues of "The Headmaster Ritual" on 7" used the 12" 'cowboy kid' artwork instead of the original 7" one.


Etchings on vinyl:


Additional release date information:
UK cd-single: 28 November 1988
Australia cd-single: late 1988


Holland: A one-sided promo 7" of "The Headmaster Ritual", numbered MD7999/01, was produced in Holland to promote the "Meat Is Murder" album. Follow the latter link for information.

USA: "The Headmaster Ritual" was selected by Sire to promote the "Meat Is Murder" album. Follow the latter link for information.