The Smiths ‘Louder Than Bombs’

Posted 12 Sep 2013 in Albums of 1987, Albums of the 80s


Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Sheila Take A Bow” by The Smiths

The Who called them “odds and sods.”

These were the songs that didn’t fit on their proper albums. Typically, they were non-album singles, B-sides and stray tracks recorded for outside compilations, movie soundtracks and other projects that either didn’t fit, or were never considered for, inclusion on their proper albums. They were also songs that may not have been released all over the world, but were only released, for whatever reason in specific regions.

The “odds and sods” compilation album made for an easy stop-gap project between new albums, creating more revenue for the artist and new product for the labels to market. At the same time, the “odds and sods” compilation also satisfied the desire of die-hard fans who want everything they can wrap their ears around by their favorite artists.

Some great examples of the “odds and sods” compilation include The Who’s aptly titled 1974 collection Odds And Sods, Elvis Costello’s Taking Liberties and the album where today’s Song Of The Day hails from; Louder Than Bombs by The Smiths.

Louder Than Bombs has become one of the most essential of all The Smiths’ releases because it features so many of their classic hits, including “Shoplifters Of the World Unite,” “Ask,” “Panic,” “Shakespeare’s Sister,” “William It Was Really Nothing,” “Hand In Glove” and “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.” And if that isn’t enough, many of the B-sides collected on the album are also of top-shelf quality including “London,” “Half A Person,” “Girl Afraid,” “Back To The Old House,” “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and “Is It Really So Strange.”

The album was the counterpart to the UKsmithspic compilations Hatful Of Hollow and The World Won’t Listen, however Bombs became so popular as an import in the UK, that Rough Trade (their British label) ultimately released it and it climbed to #38 on their album charts.

The jacket for Louder Than Bombs features an image of British playwright Shelagh Delaney of Salford, Greater Manchester. Delaney’s play, A Taste Of Honey inspired many lyrics to several of Morrissey’s early songs including “This Night Has Opened My Eyes,” which is included on the album.

Today’s Song Of the Day, “Sheila Take A Bow” was originally a UK-only single that reached the #10 spot on the UK singles chart in 1987. Morrissey had intended for ‘60s pop vocalist Sandie Shaw to sing background vocals on this track (as she had previously done on “Hand In Glove” and “I Don’t Owe You Anything”), however on the day of the session Morrissey was out sick. Morrissey’s absence from the session apparently rattled Shaw and her vocals weren’t up to snuff and ultimately scrapped. Shaw later told the press that she thought the song was horrid anyway.

smithspic2Several versions of the song exist. An early version produced by John Porter featured a prominent sitar line which was deleted from the Steven Street produced released version.  The single also featured two John Peel Session recordings on the flip; “Is It Really So Strange” and “Sweet And Tender Hooligan.” Both songs were ultimately released along with the A-side on Louder Than Bombs.

As with many Smiths singles and albums up to this point, the 45’s cover featured a still from a film. The cover for Sheila Take A Bow featured an image of actress Candy Darling (who was a member of Andy Warhol’s Factory entourage and immortalized in the Lou Reed song “Walk On The Wild Side”) in a still from the 1971 film Women In Revolt.

Over its four sides, The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs has become an essential addition to the group’s catalog, and holds up better than most of their regular album releases. What are your favorite “odds and sods” collections?

Eric Berman's Song of the DayEric BermanPlease-visit-and-LIKE-our-facebook-page


Track listing

Side A

  1. “Is It Really So Strange?” (John Peel session, 12/2/86) – 3:04 [B-side of “Sheila Take a Bow”] *
  2. “Sheila Take a Bow” – 2:41 [single A-side] *
  3. “Shoplifters of the World Unite” – 2:57 [single A-side]
  4. “Sweet and Tender Hooligan” (John Peel session, 12/2/86) – 3:35 [B-side of “Sheila Take a Bow”] *
  5. “Half a Person” – 3:36 [B-side of “Shoplifters of the World Unite”]
  6. “London” – 2:07 [B-side of “Shoplifters of the World Unite”]

Side B

  1. “Panic” – 2:20 [single A-side]
  2. “Girl Afraid” – 2:48 [B-side of “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”]
  3. “Shakespeare’s Sister” – 2:09 [single A-side]
  4. “William, It Was Really Nothing” – 2:11 [single A-side]
  5. “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby” (US mix) – 3:23 [remix of aborted single A-side] *
  6. “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” – 3:34 [single A-side]

Side C

  1. “Ask” – 3:18 [single A-side]
  2. “Golden Lights” – 2:39 [B-side of “Ask”] *
  3. “Oscillate Wildly” – 3:27 [B-side of “How Soon Is Now?”]
  4. “These Things Take Time” – 2:23 [B-side of “What Difference Does It Make?”] *
  5. “Rubber Ring” – 3:48 [B-side of “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side”]
  6. “Back to the Old House” – 3:05 [B-side of “What Difference Does It Make?”] *

Side D

  1. “Hand in Glove” (single version) – 3:13 [single A-side]
  2. “Stretch Out and Wait” (original version) – 2:38 [B-side of “Shakespeare’s Sister”] *
  3. “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” – 1:52 [B-side of “William It Was Really Nothing”]
  4. “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” (John Peel session, 9/14/83) – 3:40 [from Hatful of Hollow]
  5. “Unloveable” – 3:55 [B-side of “Bigmouth Strikes Again”]
  6. “Asleep” – 4:11 [B-side of “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side”]


The Smithssmithspic3

  • Morrissey – vocals
  • Johnny Marr – guitars, piano, harmonica, mandolin
  • Andy Rourke – bass guitar, cello
  • Mike Joyce – drums

Additional musicians

  • Craig Gannon – guitar “
  • Kirsty MacColl – backing vocals
  • John Porter – mandolin, bass guitar
  • Stephen Street – drum machine programming

Related Links

Here are all four sides of the album. Enjoy!

Posted by Larry Carta

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