Louder Than Bombs

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For the upcoming film, see Louder Than Bombs (film).
Louder Than Bombs
Compilation album by The Smiths
Released 30 March 1987
Recorded 1983–1986
Genre Alternative rock, indie pop
Length 72:44
Label Sire9 25569-2 (US)
Rough TradeROUGH 255 (UK)
Producer Various (see main text)
The Smiths compilations chronology
The World Won't Listen
Louder Than Bombs
Stop Me
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media (9.4/10)[2]
Robert Christgau B+[3]
Rolling Stone (favourable)[4]
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5 stars[5]

Louder Than Bombs is a compilation album by the English rock band The Smiths. It was released as a double album in March 1987 by their American record company, Sire Records. Its highest chart position was number 63. Popular demand prompted their British record company, Rough Trade, to issue the album domestically as well. Upon its release in the UK in May 1987, it reached number 38 on the British charts. In 2003, the album was ranked number 365 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1990.

About the album[edit]

The album was released as the American counterpart to their recent British compilation The World Won't Listen and consisted of all singles and nearly all B-sides that had not at that point been available in the States, either on single or album, with a few other tracks added. The title is borrowed from a line in Elizabeth Smart's extended prose poem By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.

The album was intended to be a substitute for both The World Won't Listen and their 1984 compilation Hatful of Hollow, as these had not been released in the United States. This is why the non-single track "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" from Hatful of Hollow was included. (Single A-sides "This Charming Man" and "How Soon Is Now?" had already been released in the US as bonus cuts on the LPs The Smiths and Meat Is Murder, respectively.)

As with The World Won't Listen, this compilation includes the scrapped single "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" (passed over in favour of "Shoplifters of the World Unite"), albeit in a different, shorter mix. Additionally, the Louder Than Bombs version of "Stretch Out and Wait" is the original b-side version of "Shakespeare's Sister," which features slightly different lyrics. Also of note is the fact that "Ask" appears on both Louder Than Bombs and The World Won't Listen in a slightly different and longer mix than its single version.

Because the album offered many B-sides (and the "Sheila Take a Bow" single) that had never been collected onto an album before, Louder Than Bombs became very popular on import with fans in the UK. To avoid high import prices being paid, The Smiths' domestic record company, Rough Trade, decided to release the compilation as well, provoking cries of outrage by fans who only three months previously had shelled out for the slimmer single album UK counterpart. The blow was somewhat softened by the fact that the double album retailed at single album price.

After WEA acquired The Smiths' back catalogue in 1992, all Smiths albums were re-released at mid price, including Louder Than Bombs.


The sleeve for Louder Than Bombs, designed by Morrissey, features British playwright Shelagh Delaney of Salford, Greater Manchester. The photograph was originally published in the Saturday Evening Post after Delaney, at the age of 19, had made a striking literary debut with her play A Taste of Honey. The play inspired many early lyrics written by Morrissey, and the song "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" (included here) is based on the plight of the play's heroine, Jo, an unwed mother.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Morrissey/Marr except "Golden Lights," written by Twinkle

No. Title Length
1. "Is It Really So Strange?" (B-side of "Sheila Take a Bow"; John Peel session, 12/2/86) 3:04
2. "Sheila Take a Bow" (Single A-side) 2:41
3. "Shoplifters of the World Unite" (Single A-side) 2:57
4. "Sweet and Tender Hooligan" (B-side of "Sheila Take a Bow"; John Peel session, 12/2/86) 3:13
5. "Half a Person" (B-side of "Shoplifters of the World Unite") 3:36
6. "London" (B-side of "Shoplifters of the World Unite") 2:07
7. "Panic" (Single A-side) 2:20
8. "Girl Afraid" (B-side of "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now") 2:48
9. "Shakespeare's Sister" (Single A-side) 2:09
10. "William, It Was Really Nothing" (Single A-side) 2:11
11. "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" (US mix of aborted single A-side) 3:23
12. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" (Single A-side) 3:34
13. "Ask" (Remix of single A-side) 3:18
14. "Golden Lights" (B-side of "Ask") 2:39
15. "Oscillate Wildly" (B-side of "How Soon is Now?") 3:27
16. "These Things Take Time" (B-side of "What Difference Does It Make?") 2:23
17. "Rubber Ring" (B-side of "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side") 3:48
18. "Back to the Old House" (B-side of "What Difference Does It Make?") 3:05
19. "Hand in Glove" (Single A-side mix) 3:13
20. "Stretch Out and Wait" (B-side of "Shakespeare's Sister") 2:38
21. "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (B-side of "William, It Was Really Nothing") 1:52
22. "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" (From Hatful of Hollow; John Peel session, 9/14/83) 3:40
23. "Unloveable" (B-side of "Bigmouth Strikes Again") 3:55
24. "Asleep" (B-side of "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side") 4:11


The Smiths[edit]

  • Morrissey – vocals & lyrics
  • Johnny Marr – guitars, piano, harmonica, mandolin on "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want", bass guitar on "Golden Lights"
  • Andy Rourke – bass guitar, cello on "Shakespeare's Sister" and "Oscillate Wildly"
  • Mike Joyce – drums
  • Craig Gannon – rhythm guitar on "Half a Person", "London", "Panic", "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby", "Ask" and "Golden Lights"

Additional musicians[edit]

Technical staff[edit]

  • Johnny Marr – producer (A3)
  • Johnny Marr, Morrissey and Stephen Street – producers (A5–6)
  • Morrissey and Marr – producers (A2, C5, D5–6)
  • John Porter – producer (A1, A4, B1–2, B4–6, C1-2, C4, C6, D3)
  • Roger Pusey – producer (D4)
  • The Smiths – producers (B3, C3, D1–2)