Band members Related acts
- Gaye Advert (aka Gaye Atlas) - bass (1976-79)
- Tim Cross - keyboards (1979)
- Laurie Driver - drums (1976-79)
- Howard Pickup - bass (1976-79)
- Tim (T.V.) Smith - vocals, guitar (1976-79)
- T.V. Smith's Explorers (Tim Smith)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Crossing the Red Sea with The Adverts
Country/State: London, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: UK pressing
GEMM catalog ID: 4545
Depending on your perspective, one of the coolest (or most hideous) things about mid-1970s punk was the fact most practioneers could barely play their instruments. That lack of skill meant performers had to make up for such shortcoming through a combination of gall and enthusiasm; a combination London's The Adverts seemed to have more than their share of.
Bassist Gaye Advert (complete with trademarked leather jacket, tons of black eyeliner dark and drugged looks), was one of the first females to make a name for herself amongst the punk legions), drummer Laurie Diver, guitarist Howard Pickup and singer Tim (T.V.) Smith came together in 1976. Barely able to play their instruments apparently wasn't a drawback as the group became a regular feature at London's Roxy Club. They quickly found a mentor/sponsor in the form of The Damned's guitarist Brian James who promptly hired the group to open for The Damned on a UK tour. The resulting publicity along with James' support caught the attention of Stiff Records, which signed them to a contract, releasing their 1977 aptly titled debut 'One Chord Wonders' b/w 'Quickstep' (Stiff catalog number Buy 13). A follow-on single for Anchor Records 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' b/w 'Bored Teenagers' (Anchor catalog number ANC-1043) was equally barebones, but the controversial subject matter (the lyric recalling Gilmore's request that his body be used for medical experimentation - Smith's lyrics dealt with a blind person getting Gilmore's eyes) and an appearence on the British talent show 'Top of the Pops' sent the track into the UK top-20.
A second 45 for Anchor did little commercially ('Safety In Numbers' b/w ' We Who Wait' (Anchor catalog number ANC-1047), leading the band to sign with Bright Records. The group's debut for Bright ('No Time To Be 21' b/w 'New Day Dawning' (Bright catalog number BR1)) did better and let the company to finance an album.
Produced by John Leckie, "Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts" served to compile three of their first four singles (for some reason 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' and the later 'B' side 'Quickstep' weren't included, though the former made it back on subsequent reissues) and the rest of what was essentially the band's live act. The three earlier singles are all interesting, but few of the remaining five tracks measured up to that standard. Smith's limited voice is an acquired taste and after awhile his material (Smith penned everything on the LP) starts to suffer from a case of 'sounds the same'. The fact that The Adverts didn't have much musical talent and their material was raw and under-produced didn't exactly help. That said, they certainly had more musical dexterity than most of the competition. Anyone expecting to hear an album full of atonal teen anger will be disappointed to learn that most of the songs have recognizable melodies and there are even some harmony vocals scattered throughout (check out 'On the Roof'). The album does suffer from a weird sound mix - at least to my ears the whole thing has kind of muddy feel to it. Still, in spite of all of those criticisms, it makes for a pretty dazzling debut for folks who couldn't play two years earlier and it sets a standard that Smith and company were never able to match.
1.) One Chord Wonders (Tim Smith) - 2:48
2.) Bored Teenagers (Tim Smith) - 1:44
3.) New Church (Tim Smith) - 2:26
4.) On the Roof (Tim Smith) - 3:01
5.) Newsboys (Tim Smith) - 3:12
6.) Bombsite Boy (Tim Smith) - 2:17
2.) Safety In Numbers (Tim Smith) - 2:36
3.) Drowning Men (Tim Smith) - 3:15
4.) On Wheels (Tim Smith) - 2:40
5.) Great British Mistake (Tim Smith) - 2:18
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