The single was the second release from the band's Machine Gun Etiquette album, where it was listed as "Smash It Up (Part II)". The B-side of the single was "Burglar".
"Smash It Up" was banned from BBC Radio 1's playlist because of its perceived anarchic lyrics, stalling at No. 35 in the UK Singles Chart. It is considered to be the band's unofficial anthem.
The song's lyrics criticise hippie culture (referring to "blow wave hairstyles" and "Glastonbury hippies") rather than advocate political revolution. It is structured in two-part form: a melodic instrumental introduction segueing into an energetic pop-punk song.
Chiswick reissued the single on their budget Big Beat imprint in February 1982. In November 2004, Ace Records issued the single on CD, with alternate versions of the song (including the previously unreleased third and fourth parts of "Smash It Up") and a video, directed by Martin Baker, added.
The single was also issued in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.