The Smiths

The World Won't Listen

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In 1987, Rough Trade released two collections of singles and B-sides by the Smiths. The U.S. audience saw the release of Louder Than Bombs, which collected 24 assorted tracks. British fans were handed The World Won't Listen, with 16 tracks. Most ardent fans of the band obviously gobbled up both releases. The 13 shared tracks across the two albums are "Panic," "Ask," "London," "Shakespeare's Sister," "Shoplifters of the World Unite," "Asleep," "Unloveable," "Half a Person," "Stretch Out and Wait," "Golden Lights," "Oscillate Wildly," "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby," and "Rubber Ring." That means there are three tracks here that aren't included on Louder Than Bombs, and there are 11 tracks on Louder Than Bombs that aren't included here. Going into the merits of the tracks isn't necessary; there's not a clunker to be found in the Smiths's discography. The funny, annoying, and/or incredible thing about both the Smiths and Morrissey is that so many songs (singles or B-sides) make appearances on so many different albums. Any die-hard fan of the Smiths is going to want or need both albums, just to have a complete collection of releases (not songs). Even then, there's going to be much repetition across the actual full-length albums and best-of collections. If an album called "The Bombs Won't Listen" or "Louder Than the World" was to be released tomorrow, there'd be an audience for it; granted, it would be a smaller audience than in the heyday of the Smiths. Many people consider the Morrissey/Marr duo to be the last great songwriting team; any release by the Smiths is indispensable to this audience. A casual fan in the U.S. might due well to simply pick up Louder Than Bombs, since The World Won't Listen's additional tracks ("Bigmouth Strikes Again," "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side," and "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore") are all found on the major, full-length releases of the band, thus paying for the price of the import might not be justified.

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