Shoplifters of the World Unite

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"Shoplifters of the World Unite"
Single by The Smiths
from the album Louder Than Bombs and The World Won't Listen
Released 26 January 1987
Format 7", 12"
Recorded Autumn 1986
Genre Alternative rock
Length 2:56
Label Rough Trade
Writer(s) Johnny Marr, Morrissey
Producer(s) Johnny Marr
The Smiths singles chronology
"Shoplifters of the World Unite"
"Sheila Take a Bow"
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]

"Shoplifters of the World Unite" is a song by The Smiths. It was released as a single in January 1987, reaching No. 12 in the UK Singles Chart. As was often the case with Smiths singles, it did not appear on an original studio album. It can be found on the Louder Than Bombs, Singles, The World Won't Listen and Sound of The Smiths compilations.

Another newly completed song, "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby", was originally intended to be the A-side of this single. The single even made it to the white label test pressing stage and approximately 900 stock copies of the single were manufactured before the proper single was issued. This aborted single mix can be heard on the UK compilation The World Won't Listen, while the song was later remixed for the American compilation Louder Than Bombs.

The title alludes to the communist slogan "Workers of the world, unite!", and[citation needed] the 1966 David and Jonathan hit 'Lovers of the World Unite'. The sleeve features a photograph of a young Elvis Presley that was taken by James R. Reid.

During a 1987 interview[2] with Shaun Duggan, Morrissey explained the meaning of the song as follows: "It's more or less spiritual shoplifting, cultural shoplifting, taking things and using them to your own advantage."

Musically the song bears a strong resemblance to the T.Rex song "Children of the Revolution". Both Morrissey and Johnny Marr are Marc Bolan fans, and Marr has admitted in an interview that the melody for a previous Smiths single, "Panic", was copied from "Metal Guru".[1]

The heavy metal band Pist.on recorded a cover of "Shoplifters of the World Unite" on their 1996 album Number One.

South African band Sugardrive covered the song on a 2002 holiday album. The Santa Sessions.[3]

Morrissey has said that this is his favourite Smiths song.[citation needed] He has frequently played it live since 1995.

Track listing[edit]

7" RT195
No. Title Length
1. "Shoplifters of the World Unite"   2:56
2. "Half a Person"   3:35
12" RTT195
No. Title Length
1. "Shoplifters of the World Unite"   2:56
2. "London"   2:06
3. "Half a Person"   3:35
12" Wrong Version RTT195
No. Title Length
1. "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby"   3:34
2. "London"   2:06
3. "Half a Person"   3:35

Etchings on vinyl[edit]

British 7" and 12": ALF RAMSEY'S REVENGE/none


Chart Peak
Ireland (IRMA) 7
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 12


  1. ^ "Shopliters of the World Unite rating". Allmusic. Retrieved on 29 October 2012.
  2. ^ Duggan, Shaun. "Interview, The Tube". 
  3. ^ Retrieved 15 October 2013

External links[edit]