Louder Than Bombs
A collection of The Smiths’ non-album material, Louder Than Bombs was actually released before Strangeways, but it looks tidier underneath. It’s actually less useful than it could have been, doubling up on eight tracks from Hatful of Hollow, and missing the group’s final b-sides, the Cilla Black cover ‘Work Is A Four Letter Word’ and fan favourite ‘I Keep Mine Hidden’, as well as a couple of 1983 b-sides also unavailable on CD. There’s also a song, ‘Money Changes Everything’, only available on the British compilation The World Won’t Listen, which Louder Than Bombs draws from. In fact the whole Smiths discography is such a mess that a complete three or four disc boxset would be a sensible release; the group only released a handful of really substandard songs in their short career, and one comprehensive set would make more sense than having to buy three copies of ‘Hand In Glove’ to obtain all of their easily available studio recordings.
Still, originally a double LP set, fitting onto one CD, Louder Than Bombs is a great buy with plenty of terrific non-album singles like ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’, the Kirsty McColl duet ‘Ask’ and ‘Panic’ with its famous “Hang the DJ” lyric. There is some obvious filler, unsurprising for b-sides; most noticeably the Twinkle cover ‘Golden Lights’ and the instrumental ‘Oscillate Wildly’. But there’s plenty of interesting material too – ‘London’ and ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’ are arguably the hardest rocking tracks The Smiths ever recorded, especially the punk like thrash of the former. ‘Half A Person’ is one of the Smiths’ most effective songs too, with the lines “Sixteen, clumsy and shy/I went to London and I/I booked myself in at the Y.W.C.A./I said: “I like it here – can I stay?””
Louder Than Bombs is a messy compilation, but there’s lots of great stuff here.