"The Headmaster Ritual"|
UK CD5 [Rough Trade RTT215CD]
In 1988 Rough Trade started reissuing the Smiths singles back catalogue on cd format, but stopped before half were done. "The Headmaster Ritual" had not originally been commercially released as a single in England. It was only properly released as such in Holland instead of "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore". For some reason, in their 1988 reissue programme, Rough Trade and/or the Smiths also preferred "The Headmaster Ritual" over the latter song. However, the original Dutch artwork had fallen out of favour with Morrissey who designed something completely new (view left). The cd's 'label' followed the pattern of all others in the series, with a horizontal stripe across the middle, this one being in grey over blue. "Shakespeare's Sister" was dropped from the track listing, perhaps to make sure the single remained chart-eligible. The cd-single was soon withdrawn in the UK because cover star Viv Nicholson objected to the "spineless bastards" line in the title track.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 increased the cd's rarity and made it an instant collectible. Since then the deleted copies have found their way back onto the collectors market but, because of its history, it still sells for more than the other UK cd-singles in the series.
UK 7" [Megadisc MD5295 - 2009 reissue]
The Smiths' contribution to Record Store Day 2009 was adapted from the pressing included in the Smiths' "Singles Box" a few months earlier (latter 7", its test pressing and its acetate are not described here, see "Singles Box" collectors appendix). Ten of the twelve 7"s in that box had been put up for sale individually, but not "Still Ill" and "The Headmaster Ritual" as they were considered bonus material and used as incentives for fans to buy the box. When the time came to finally release "The Headmaster Ritual" four months later for Record Store Day, a few changes were made to the sleeve and record. The sleeve was made more thick and glossy and featured an extra barcode on the back. A large hole was punched out of the centre of the record, making it look more like the original Dutch 7" (described below) on which these reissues were modelled. However, this was a strange decision considering that the layout was not quite the same as for the original and the removal of the centre also cut out some of the text.
See also the USA counterpart to this reissue, described at the bottom of this page. It was also released for Record Store Day 2009, but it differs more from the box set 7" than the UK edition.
Australia CD5 [Festival D1079]
Although "The Headmaster Ritual" had not originally been released as a single in Australia, Festival still followed in the steps of Rough Trade UK and released the song as a cd-single in 1988. However they didn't quite follow the Rough Trade designs and the packaging was done more cheaply than in the UK. The front artwork was cropped to fit the jewelcase (the UK cd-singles were released in the thin case that need wider artwork) and the colours were not reproduced as well. The cd label's 2-colour horizontal stripe design remained as in the UK, but the font and layout were changed.
Holland 7" [Megadisc/CBS MD5290]
There are 4 different 7" versions of this single, some more collectible than others. These are the combinations of two different sleeves with two different labels. In all cases the sleeves are quite thin and prone to creasing. See the "The Headmaster Ritual" discography page for an explanation of the sleeve variations. The two labels are both typical Megadisc 'circular saw' types, but the layout on them is different. The red sleeves are often found creased nowadays because of their thinness. On all versions "Oscillate Wildly" is mistakenly credited with a length of 2:32 instead of 3:26. Here's a rundown of the four versions:
The latter two versions have become more collectible over the years, because they were pressed in fewer numbers, but also because they were originally assumed to be mispressings.
- original text artwork - classic Megadisc label
Original red sleeve artwork (view left). Label has titles at the top and the Megadisc name in plain font across the middle.
- original text artwork - styled Megadisc label
Original red sleeve artwork (view left). Label has titles at the bottom, the Megadisc logo is styled and at the top.
- 'cowboy kid' picture artwork - classic Megadisc label
Morrissey-designed artwork (view left). Label has titles at the top and the Megadisc name in plain font across the middle.
- 'cowboy kid' picture artwork - styled Megadisc label
Morrissey-designed artwork (view left). Label has titles at the bottom, the Megadisc logo is styled and oat the top top.
Holland 12" [Megadisc/CBS MD125295]
There are also 5 versions of the 12" format, and again the discrepancies are found both on the sleeve and on the labels. All versions have the Morrissey designed 'cowboy kid' artwork on the front, all have a white paper inner sleeve, but variations have been observed on the back. Here's a rundown of the four versions, in random order as it it not clear which came first:
- misprinted back - band name on top of label
This version has the typo "Shakespear's Sister" on the back of the sleeve. The labels are grey and have "The Smiths" at the top, above the track listing. Speed is correctly mentioned as being 45RPM.
- corrected back - band name on top of label
Back corrected to "Shakespeare's Sister". The labels are the same as above, grey with "The Smiths" at the top, above the track listing.
- corrected back - band name over centre hole
Same corrected back, but the labels were changed. "The Smiths" now appears under the titles, right above the center hole. Speed is incorrectly specified as "33 1/3 RPM". "Meat Is Murder" is misprinted on the b-side as "Heat Is Murder".
- corrected back - yellow label
Corrected sleeve as previous. Labels are still circular saw Megadisc ones, but the grey is now yellow. Text layout on them is identical to the previous version: speed incorrectly specified as "33 1/3 RPM" and "Meat Is Murder" is misprinted as "Heat Is Murder".
- misprinted back - yellow label
The yellow label variation has also been found in the misprinted sleeve.
Holland 7" promo [Megadisc MD7999/01]
This item served as a promo for "Meat Is Murder" in Holland. Information is found in the latter album's collectors appendix.
USA 7" [Sire Records MD5295 / R7 518765 - 2009 reissue]
The American contribution to Record Store Day 2009 (see UK 7" above for background details) differed more than its British counterpart to the box set 7" on which both were modelled. The barcode on the back of the sleeve was placed in the bottom right corner instead of the top right one. The Megadisc logo was replaced with a small Sire one, and beneath that the catalogue number and credits were changed for Sire ones. The record's centre is still a solid one (unlike the British edition), but the Megadisc mention on the labels was removed, and Sire logo, catalogue number and credits were added. All in all, while Warner UK put a lot of effort in reproducing the original Dutch release, down to repeating the Megadisc logo, catalogue number and credits, Sire in the USA removed all mention of anything that wasn't theirs.
USA 12" promo [Sire Records PRO-A-2333]
This item served as a promo for "Meat Is Murder" in the USA. Information is found in the latter album's collectors appendix.