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This Weekend I’ll be Listening to… The Adverts – ‘The Great British Mistake’ and other songs… January 31, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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What better song to have on This Weekend on this of all days (and a couple of hours early to align with broader historical events) but The Great British Mistake from the Adverts.

An interesting, and in a way underrated, band, The Adverts. They had the songs, the lyrics, the image, Gaye Advert was surely one of the coolest of bass players ever, TV Smith articulate and angry and a rhythm section with Gaye Advert and Laurie Driver (ahem) on drums (later superseded by Rod Latter), while Howard Pickup/Boak on guitars raged. Tim Cross arrived for the second album, and later Pickup and Latter were replaced by Paul Martinez and Rick Martinez.

There was a soaring quality to the vocals and those guitars that sort of signposted future possibilities and listen to the sounds on the live clip at the foot of the page which despite the self-deprecation of One Chord Wonders surely pointed towards post-punk. The first album was filled with genuinely classic despatches from the frontline of punk – Gary Gilmore’s Eyes that was as catchy as it was tasteless. Bored Teenagers, the aforementioned Great British Mistake. But while the songs are punk there’s more than hints of power pop and new wave (something they actually nod at in the lyrics).

Their second and last album, Cast of Thousands which was a strange, stripped down and yet simultaneously pumped up, almost hypnotic album (the title track sounds a bit like later period Auteurs, others are reminiscent of Magazine/Howard Devoto, or is it the other way around?). The difference between the two is very clear and yet so are the commonalities. Crunchy guitar riffs, but curiously dramatic song structures and some amazing keyboards. It’s a fascinating album produced with Tom Newman, better known for his production of Tubular Bells. Frankly he did a terrible job, production wise, but mostly the songs themselves shine. It’s a fascinating if deeply flawed album. And as with the title track, explicitly political. I’m usually immune to more melodramatic music, but this… I like a lot. And yet listening to it, who do I hear, but Hawklords odd blend of punk and rock. Listen to I Looked At the Sun and the keyboards in the background. Oddly similar – convergent evolution I’d have thought.

The band split up soon after Cast of Thousands was released, and TV Smith with Cross went off on a solo career. I have the first album from that period of his career, ‘Last Words of the Great Explorer’, had it probably since the early 1980s. Not entirely convinced by it – the keyboards are too pervasive and the vocals tend to cross a line into melodrama – but your mileage may vary. He’s been remarkably hard-working across a career that saw his latest album released only a year or so ago.

Anyhow, take the two Adverts albums together and they offer a sense of just how punk – whatever the overheated boosterism of the later anniversaries – really did offer a moment in musical history where anything seemed possible and often was.

The Great British Mistake

Gary Gilmore’s Eyes

Bored Teenagers

No Time to be 21

One Chord Wonders

Cast of Thousands

The Adverts

I Looked at the Sun

Televisions Over

Live at the Vortex 77

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