Replay The Adverts cvrReplay the Adverts - TV Smith and The Bored Teenagers (Easy Action Records)

You say you liked the punk stuff at the beginning? If you don't have the first Adverts LP, “Crossing the Red Sea with..”,  or their second, “Cast of Thousands”, then this will do nicely. 

Sure, we weren't at the fabled 100 Club, or the infamous CBGBs in the Bowery, or the Mermaid in Sparkhill when Swansplayed ... but we have our own memories of the fantastic, never to be repeated underground. 

And, let's face it, the only thing that elevates a shithole is the scene we punters and creatives make. When the scene ebbs and flows away, the shithole is still a shithole. I bet CBGBs is a lot cleaner now (it's a designer clothing shop) and while the 100 Club is still around at a different location, it's well and truly part of the establishment. Perhaps appropriately, the Mermaid stands as a gutted derelict after a fire.

Yeah, all the old punks have been reissuing and doing gigs in the last 20 years. Big deal. The Sex Pistols did this in 1997, and good on 'em. They got ripped off left and right at the time, and only managed to get out one studio album before they fell apart, mostly, it seems, to McLaren's incompetence as a manager but a master at manipulation to shifting purposes. Resulting in personal and idiotic chaos. 

The Adverts were the famous “one chord wonders”, beloved by the music press at the time (1977-1978), partly because their bass player looked bloody attractive, and partly because TV Smith's lyrics were so acerbically spot-on.

Needless to say, on the larger scale of things, the Pistols are still remembered, but The Adverts, like Alternative TV or X-Ray Spex, and many other significant-at-the-time bands, seem ... well. Disremembered. Perhaps not so much in the UK, but while the UK is a big market, it's easy enough to slide through the cracks.

Which is pretty damn criminal. As far as I'm concerned, TV Smith is one of the UK's great lyricists (11 solo LPs!) and The Adverts were one of that handful of great early UK punk bands. Anyone discovering them today is in for the same kind of treat I was when I heard the original Trashmen in the late ‘70s, and The Monks in (I was late, I confess) in the 1990s. 

This isn't Smith's first foray with The Bored Teenagers; he's been playing with them since at least 2007, when they released a live version of “Crossing the Red Sea” with several encores. Why the younger band? Well, two of the original members of The Adverts are no longer with us, and presumably the others have long since moved on. Also, two of The Adverts objected to Smith retaining the name after they'd left, so Smith reinvented himself musically and continued on. 

People do move on from being that focal point in your life when you were 15 and they were 22, you know. On the rear cover of this beautifully-presented package there's a picture of the crowd in front of Smith: it's instructive. Yes, it's mostly older blokes. Beards, bald heads, tatts, band t-shirts. A generation who probably never thought they'd get this old. Smith looks older, but hey, we can only see the front row.  

To “Replay the Adverts”, first the band did a gig at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool in the summer of 2022; the following day turning up at local Rock Hard Studio to hammer through the whole album plus extras; "no frills, no pauses, no overdubs, all the energy and excitement of the live show distilled onto tape in one single glorious take". 

On the front cover Smith is stretching out the mic to the audience - us - for our response. So much, but so little, seems to have changed. He's in his late sixties and still wears his home-made regalia well, but politically ... if anything, the situation is worse than ever in the UK. Smith's initial lyrics found him zeroing in on the people and situations he saw around him - the personal rather than the left/right nonsense;

From “New Church”:

Hang on, if you hang on to faith and meekness
Before long it's power for the strong
It's twisted into something evil
something wrong
So I'm riding with the new church
I'm riding with the new church
Relying on the new church
And a new word
So long, goodbye to the blind and the weaklings
Be strong, I'll do what I want
I'll follow my feelings
I'll go where they lead me
Strength within you, not without you
The new church needs you

And there's an distinct air of imminent doom, of a hideous struggle for survival, to avoid suffocation or starvation in this first LP. From “Drowning Men”:

We're the drowning men
We're the drowning men
The mutant freaks fantastical
Knife's edge, unreal or actual
Ambition stunted, the future fated
Shall we rise from sunken places
Walk the streets, unnatural, graceless
Wipe the smile from your faces
If we can make it

And the song “Bored Teenagers” still resonates: 

We're talking into corners
Finding ways to fill the vacuum
And though our mouths are dry
We talk in hope to hit on something new
Tied to the railway track
It's one way to revive but no way to relax
We're just bored teenagers
Looking for love,
Or should I say emotional rages
Bored teenagers
Seeing ourselves as strangers
We talk about the whys and wherefores
Do we really care at all?
Talk about the frailty of words
Is rarely meaningful
When we're sitting watching the 'planes
Burn up through the night like meteorites.

I think you'll agree these are pretty damned astute lyrics for a 19 year-old. The thread of dissociation from the ordinary day to day world positively rages through these songs, the striving to find stability, identity, some sort of cultural bond.

Rather sickening that these old songs are so vividly relevant today. “Replay the Adverts” has the critical singles, A and B sides, “Crossing the Red Sea'” and hell, before you know it you've finished that second bottle of vodka, the room is a wreck and how you're gonna explain the damage to the lampshades and curtains is clearly a matter for the next day. And what are those stains? Did you invite friends over? It's all a bit of a blur.

Because you will react like this, you know. Partly it's expectation run amuck, partly it's nostalgia and partly the band play like sumbitches: the band - who I suspect often get lost in the reviews - are: BB Quattro (bass), Stefan Haublein(drums), and Marc Carrey (guitar). They are, frankly, fucking superb.

Those of you who already have your treasured copy of “Crossing the Red Sea'” (on Bright Records, naturally) will, I suppose, naturally be dubious, possibly squeaking that "it's not the same". Well, of course not. People age (like you and me) and we change. The thing is, I love having these three editions of these songs because you can hear (first) how Smith's voice has altered down the years; (second) that the fire and sheer sparking electricity of conviction still crackles through the man. 

Each of the releases I've detailed are unique and well worth having in their own right. My advice - get 'em all if you can. Nostalgia's fine, but it's too easy to sit in our rocker with the booze and the cricket sneering at the Pommy Bastards. Sod that for a useless existence. 

The great British mistake was looking for a way out 
Was getting complacent, not noticing 
The pulse was racing
The mistake was fighting
The change, was staying the same
It couldn't adapt so it couldn't survive
Something had to give
The people take a downhill slide into the gloom
Into the dark recesses of their minds

It's still true today, isnt' it? “Fahrenheit 451” getting closer (curious that Smith is the only punk from the day to namecheck that book).

God bless Carlton Sandercock for putting this out. After the 1970s and 1980s, we really shouldn't need punk rock. But we do, more than ever, and that is a dreadful indictment on all of us here in the “civilised West” (a conceited excuse to do as little as possible and milk the system as I've ever encountered).

Go get it.


Buy it 

Get the originals on download

Get TV Smith's solo LPs