The Smiths – Louder Than Bombs (1987)
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About the Album
Louder Than Bombs is a compilation album by English rock band The Smiths. It was 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. 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.
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.
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.