The Smiths
Louder Than Bombs


4.5
superb

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
August 1st, 2013 | 20 replies | 1,886 views


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I love the smell of The Smiths in the morning...

The Smiths proved three years earlier with Hatful of Hollow that their compilation albums could be just as vital and thrilling as their studio LP’s. To cut a long story short, 1987’s Louder Than Bombs proves to be another essential Smiths comp, collecting a cluster of non-album singles, B-sides and a few oddly placed older tracks in its generous 24-track runtime.

The set kicks off with the splendid ‘Is It Really So Strange?’ which grooves along radiantly before ‘Sheila Take A Bow’s grinding intro intrudes. What follows is one of the Smiths simplest pop gems, which remains optimistic and positive despite the pensive refrain “How can someone so young sing words so sad?”. The gender bending, delirious last minute closes a joyous romp in time for ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’. It’s one of the most notorious Smiths songs perhaps for its title alone, yet the actual product comes across less politically affecting than it does a slyly humorous mid tempo rocker. More powerful is the succeeding track, ‘Sweet and Tender Hooligan’, with Morrissey assuming the role of a sympathetic, criminal-fancier, pleading with the listener to not “blame the sweet and tender hooligan because he’ll never, never do it again”. Yet of course there’s more depth to Morrissey prose than that line alone, as it is capped off with “well not until the next time”, demonstrating the sarcasm of this rollicking number. Whether interpreted as a critique of the leniency of the law or a tongue in cheek ode to those who find dangerous individuals attractive, or both; the end result is fantastic.

There’s more Smiths gems buried on this album, including the tender, mellow ‘Half a Person”; the grinding, pseudo-punk ‘London’; the gorgeous pop of ‘Ask’; the rockabilly-esque tragedy ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’; the sour but optimistic ‘You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby’, and, the cherry atop this most delicious cake, ‘Panic’. ‘Panic’ deserves a special mention as it is simply one of the most propulsive, immediate and infectious pop tunes the Smiths ever wrote. As soon as its intro riff and pounding drums crash in the listener is hooked like a fish on a line. Morrissey’s vocals are confident and the band create such a lucid, bopping groove – by the time Moz has finished proclaiming “Hang the DJ!” and the track fades out one can’t help but reach for the repeat button.

The rest of the disc more or less hits somewhere in the middle as it regurgitates tracks which are available on earlier Smiths albums, and throws in some of the band’s weakest efforts (Oscillate Wildly, Golden Lights). But considering the wealth of hits that appear on this disc, some of which were only available as singles or B-Sides at the time, such small issues are ironed over neatly. The repetitive selections prove to be strong at least, and when the album closes with the nakedly sorrowful, tragic beauty of piano ballad ‘Asleep’ all is forgiven. Louder Than Bombs also turns out to be the stronger of the two 1987 compilations, as The World Won’t Listen is both shorter and weaker in its inclusion of non-album material, offering only ‘Money Changes Everything’ which this album misses. Quite simply, Louder Than Bombs hosts too many classics to be absent from any solid Smiths collection and proves to be a thrilling and essential album still today.



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4.2
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Comments:Add a Comment 
tommygun
August 1st 2013



24532 Comments


he's back!

good read as always, tom

pos

haven't spun this one yet though i've heard most of the songs hehe

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2013



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey! Thanks man.

Depends which songs you've heard i guess, cos some are repeated from other albums but others are hard to find elsewhere

ButteryBiscuitBass
August 1st 2013



9898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

POS'd

Great review, great album.

tommygun
August 1st 2013



24532 Comments


yea it's in my library i've heard the usual suspects that are on every smiths comp ever

will spin this for sure though gotta hear em all!

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2013



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks ButteryBiscuitBass.

Some really good tunes on this, probably has the worst two Smiths songs as well but those aren't terrible in the slightest

tommygun
August 1st 2013



24532 Comments


you referring to oscillate wildly like the review indicates?

i actually quite like that song lol so i should enjoy the rest a lot

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2013



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah i was haha, and Golden Lights - both of em are pretty meh in my eyes but far from terrible. But yeah, the rest is pretty much great so you should be in for a treat

tommygun
August 1st 2013



24532 Comments


yea the smiths man even when they're bad they're still pretty good :]

ButteryBiscuitBass
August 1st 2013



9898 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

agreed

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2013



50088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet

Digging: Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living

newjunk2
August 1st 2013



230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As far as I'm concerned there is no such thing as a worst Smiths song.

BigPleb
March 18th 2014



35974 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

YOUUUU JUST HAVEN'T EARNED IT YET BABBYYYY

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

Thunderkat
March 31st 2014



511 Comments


Golden light is my least favorite track here, and Marr didn't even write it. So it's not really a smiths track, just Morrissey singing over a song made by someone else.

bach
May 17th 2014



12340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

so glad i'm back on my smiths kick

Digging: Orange - Orange

Thunderkat
August 11th 2014



511 Comments


learn to love me

bach
August 11th 2014



12340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nature is a language
can't you read?

tommygun
August 11th 2014



24532 Comments


do you have a vacancy for a back scrrrrrrubberrrrrrrr

bach
August 29th 2014



12340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ASK ME I WON'T SAY NO
HOOOOOW COULD I?

BigPleb
August 29th 2014



35974 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

SHOOOOOPLIFTERSSSS OF THE WOOOOOORLD

bach
August 29th 2014



12340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and you never knew
how much i really liked you
because i never even told you
oh and i meant to



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