Louder Than Bombs

Louder Than Bombs is a compilation album by English rock band The Smiths, released as a double album in March 1987 by their American record company, Sire Records. It peaked at number 62 on the US Billboard 200 album chart.[8] 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, and ranked 369 on a 2012 revised list.[9] The album was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1990.

Louder Than Bombs
Compilation album by
Released30 March 1987
LabelSire9 25569-2 (US)
Rough TradeROUGH 255 (UK)
ProducerVarious (see main text)
The Smiths chronology
The World Won't Listen
Louder Than Bombs
Strangeways, Here We Come
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[5]
Uncut4/5 stars[6]
The Village VoiceB+[7]


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 United 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.

Due to the album offering 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 cover art 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, made her literary debut with the 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 listingEdit

All tracks are written by Morrissey/Marr, except "Golden Lights", written by Twinkle, and "Oscillate Wildly", written by Johnny Marr.

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)3:34
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


Additional musiciansEdit

  • Craig Gannon – rhythm guitar on "Half a Person", "London", "Panic", "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby", "Ask" and "Golden Lights", lead guitar on outro of "London"[13], mandolin on "Golden Lights"[14]
  • Kirsty MacColl – backing vocals on "Ask" and "Golden Lights"
  • John Porter – slide guitar on "Sheila Take a Bow", sound effects on "Ask"[15], drum machine and bass guitar on "Golden Lights"[16]
  • Stephen Street – additional drum machine programming on "London", sampling on "Rubber Ring"[17], sound effects on "Asleep"[18]


  • 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)


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[20] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Louder Than Bombs – The Smiths". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  2. ^ Kot, Greg (7 July 1991). "The Smiths And Solo". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  3. ^ Kelly, Danny (10 December 1988). "Paint a Vulgar Picture". NME.
  4. ^ Wolk, Douglas (18 November 2011). "The Smiths: The Smiths Complete". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  5. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "The Smiths". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 753–54. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  6. ^ Dalton, Stephen (1998). "The Smiths: Louder Than Bombs". Uncut.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (23 February 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  8. ^ "The Smiths: Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  9. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  10. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982-87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 217.
  11. ^ Cavanagh, D, 1993. Irreproachable: The Smiths: the very best of British?. Q Magazine, 1 December 1993.
  12. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books.
  13. ^ Goddard, S, 2009. Mozipedia: The Encyclopaedia of Morrissey and the Smiths. 1st ed. India: Ebury Press. P. 227.
  14. ^ Fletcher, T, 2012. A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths. 1st ed. U.K: Random House. P. 520.
  15. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 222.
  16. ^ Goddard, S, 2009. Mozipedia: The Encyclopaedia of Morrissey and the Smiths. 1st ed. India: Ebury Press. P. 149.
  17. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 169.
  18. ^ Goddard, S, 2013. Songs That Saved Your Life - The Art of The Smiths 1982–87. 2nd ed. U.K.: Titan Books. P. 171.
  19. ^ "British album certifications – The Smiths – Louder Than Bombs". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 27 March 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Louder Than Bombs in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  20. ^ "American album certifications – The Smiths – Louder Than Bombs". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 27 March 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.