This Day in 1987: The Smiths, The World Won’t Listen

Tuesday, February 23, 2016
This Day in 1987: The Smiths, The World Won’t Listen

29 years ago today, The Smiths released the second compilation of their career on Rough Trade Records. As with the first one, Hatful of Hollow, it was not initially released in the US, but also like the first one, it was rapturously received by Smiths fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, it also became seen as somewhat superfluous on our shores a few months later, when Sire Records released their own equivalent with Louder Than Bombs, but there's no doubt that the two albums are very different from each other.

The World Won't Listen was gifted its title by Morrissey himself as a reaction to mainstream audiences' failure to embrace The Smiths. (If you've ever wanted a textbook example of what would be described as a Morrissey-esque mindset, this would be it.) As it happens, the resulting collection features a number of songs which have gone on to be viewed as definitive Smiths songs, including “Panic,” “Ask,” “Shakespeare's Sister,” “That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore,” and “Shoplifters of the World Unite.”

The first reason The World Won't Listen stands on its own rather than simply as a duplication of Louder Than Bombs is that it also features a trio of songs from The Queen is Dead: “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” and “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side.” In addition, though, there are a number of B-sides from various singles, a unique mix of “You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby,” and if you picked up the CD or cassette version, you got a bonus track “Money Changes Everything.”

It took awhile, but The World Won't Listen did eventually earn release in America, but by the time it happened, it was really only something desired by collectors. For those who purchased it upon its initial release, however, it was a must-own compilation that's still fondly remembered.