Tuesday, June 13, 2006
TV Smith is very much the proof that not all old punks get their original bands back together and there bondage pants and safety pins out of the closet to play the circuit of revival clubs for aging beer belly punks and those to young to have been involved the first time round, it is true that he can often be found strumming away at some misguided punk festival with the likes of Sham 69 and the rest of the sad bunch. The only difference is that Tim, his real name, has lived a full life since then and has continued recording with different degrees of success in both commercial and critical terms. He still gigs on a regular basis more often than not on his own with an acoustic guitar, a mixture of old and new songs, a friendly stage presence, terrible dress sense and enough energy for a band half his age, all of this at the age of 50. I can confirm that it will be an hour and a few euros well spent as I had the pleasure of promoting him on several occasions in the mid nineties, maybe not the best attended of gigs but did we enjoy ourselves!
Upon the the dissolution of the Adverts, TV formed the new wave inflected Explorers who scored a hit with the topical 'Tomahawk Cruise'. This was followed with what was termed at the time as folk punk, his first solo album 'Channel 5' which due to the financial instability of his label was to disappear from the shelves almost before its release date, this long lost platter has recently seen it's first outing on CD. Wasting little time he regrouped with the ex Advert Tim Cross and formed the band Cheap which was to be a gigging concern through the eighties but no record company was to bite the bait and so their only release is the tongue in cheek titled album 'RIP' which came out once the band were no more.
The real renaissance of TV started with his 1992 solo album 'March Of The Giants' which mixed folk music and traditional instruments with his engaged but intelligent lyrics delivered with his charismatic half broken voice as illustrated on the albums title track. At the time we loved it and the album stayed on our playlist until the follow up 1994's 'Immortal Rich' was to be delivered. This album was co produced and featured another survivor of punk who had successfully changed direction Tom Robinson. The sound was slightly more developed as can be heard on 'Thin Green Line' but lost none of its charm. 1998's 'Generation Y' continued in much the same vein though by now he was back to using a full band for recording, the album is a delightful mix of country and folk but keeps very much faithful to it's European roots having said this my personal favorite is 'Statue of Liberty' very mature stuff for an old punk, repeated listens to this album actual reminds me of Al Stewart but with balls! It was here than things started to go astray, having long had a following in Germany TV recorded an album with German punk superstar band Die Toten Hosen, the album was called 'Useless:The Very Best Of TV Smith' and consisted of rerecorded versions of songs from all stages of his career, in my opinion not the wisest of moves on a critical level but the German only 2001 release proved to be successful. 2006 has seen 'Information Overload' being released and rather sadly the title and album cover are almost the best thing about it, the album has a much bigger sound with a production that would appear to be playing up to US FM radio, and as such is the least pleasing of his solo outings since 1992, I'll let you decide for yourself by listening to the cod reggae 'Carrying On'.
Little seems to be readily available though if you are persistent you will find something in the second hand stores and those first three solo albums from the 1990's should find a home in any discerning collection.
A bonus track is up for grabs today a live recording with a band of the Adverts big one 'Gary Gillmore's Eyes', Anyone that has had the pleasure of seeing TV solo, and I mean on his own, will bear witness that this man does not need a full band to do justice to this old chestnut and bring it back to life on stage. Do try and catch him if you can this summer as he will be gigging in Europe, he's even playing a festival called Sound Of The Suburbs in Essen, maybe they'll invite me!