Aural Sculptors - The Stranglers Live 1976 to the Present

Welcome to Aural Sculptors, a blog aimed at bringing the music of The Stranglers to as wide an audience as possible. Whilst all of the various members of the band that have passed through the ranks since 1974 are accomplished studio musicians, it is on stage where the band have for me had their biggest impact.

As a collector of their live recordings for many years I want to share some of the better quality material with other fans. By selecting the higher quality recordings I hope to present The Stranglers in the best possible light for the benefit of those less familiar with their material than the hardcore fan.

Needless to say, this site will steer well clear of any officially released material. As well as live gigs, I will post demos, radio interviews and anything else that I feel may be of interest.

In addition, occasionally I will post material by other bands, related or otherwise, that mean a lot to me.

Your comments and/or contributions are most welcome. Please email me at

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Jet and Hugh KROQ Radio Interview 5th May 1981

Here's an unusual, non-confrontational interview with Jet and Hugh broadcast by KROQ in Los Angeles on 5th May 1981 prior to their appearance at Perkins Palace in Pasedena. Here they plug the 'Gospel' album.


Monday 27 January 2020

‘The Final UK Tour’ - A Reaction

‘The Final UK Tour’…. Well it had to come and thankfully it was a long time in coming, but how does it leave us feeling. I wasn’t there in ’77…. It’s not cool but the first Stranglers record that I purchased was ‘Golden Brown’ (along with OMD’s ‘Architecture & Morality’!) prior to Christmas 1981. Admittedly much water had already flowed under the Stranglers’ bridge by that point, but on the other hand it is still a long time ago, 38 something years. I am in the same boat as many long term fans in that much of my social life has revolved around the band. It is a fact that through wearing ‘the colours’ and in that I mean a painted leather jacket or a band T-shirt, I have met people wherever I have lived over the years and formed friendships that have endured for years.

The Stranglers were instrumental in bringing Gunta and I together at the Marquee in Wardour Street, the occasion being an S.I.S. party with The Purple Helmets headlining.

And some people just had to show off!

Of course the news today has at least for me dominated my Facebook newsfeed to a ridiculous extent. But here I am reminded of another occasion, albeit in a far less technologically connected world...... August 1990. News broke then that Hugh Cornwell was leaving The Stranglers after 16 years. My world imploded for several months. At a time when the fastest possible means of communication was a telephone landline, I abused my very junior position at the British Gas Research Centre to discuss, at some considerable length, with Steve Tyas, the future prospects for our band. And lo and behold, they continued through good times and bad for another astounding 30 years!

Of course this time is different. JJ and Dave are both significantly past pensionable age and touring is tough for a young band, so I would imagine that for those guys touring worldwide, as has been the case recently, is a super feat of endurance. At 50 I struggle with a string of three nights on the bounce, but then again I guess the band are these days doing it on more sleep and less alcohol than we do!

So what do we want of this tour and beyond. Well, for my part, I would like to see consideration of the average punter cast aside. This one should be for the faithful, with plenty of surprises in the set. For us it is a big event, the end of an era, whereas for many it will just be another gig.... that just happens to be a farewell tour. There I have said it. 'Fools Rush Out' please.

And what of the future, if this is the final 'full' UK tour. I guess that this indicates that festivals may be the order of the day. If that is the case, then I am not so keen. Festivals (with the exception of events like Rebellion) rarely represent good value for money with shortened sets of greatest hits, crowd pleasing/appeasing material. If that is the future of the band, to be honest my preference would be to go out with a bang on a formal final tour. If on the other hand they followed the 2007 Rattus gigs, three major cities over a long weekend, visiting obscure material or doing other album specific sets, that would be great. Let's see what pans out. What is important to me is that they do not fizzle out on a series of unremarkable, poorly rehearsed festival sets. Their legacy is far too precious (no pun intended) for that to happen.

When all is said and done, The Stranglers owe me nothing and whatever is ahead I wish them well and thank them for being a huge part of the soundtrack of my life, quite literally as man and boy.

Cheers to all who played a part.

Sunday 26 January 2020

Orion Rome 1st December 2019

Here's a nice recording on the band last month in Rome. Many thanks to the kind contributor who sent me the file!

MP3 (as received):

01. Intro
02. Norfolk Coast
03. I've Been Wild
04. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
05. Midnight Summer Dream
06. Time To Die
07. Nice 'N' Sleazy
08. The Raven
09. 5 Minutes
10. Unbroken
11. Golden Brown
12. Always The Sun
13. Don't Bring Harry
14. Nuclear Device
15. Peaches
16. Toiler On The Sea
17. Freedom Is Insane
18. Walk On By
19. Something Better Change
20. Relentless
21. Hanging Around
22. Tank
23. No More Heroes

999 Haus Der Jugend Dusseldorf 4th November 1994

I have been looking for a 999 recording from the mid '90's for some time now and thanks to a friend in Germany I now have one. So what's the thing about 999 in the mid-90's then you may ask. Well, amongst other things I had stopped following The Stranglers at that point as patience had been stretched too far. 999 were on the doorstep and filled that Stranglers-shaped hole! But it wasn't just that, 1994 saw the release of their first new material since 1985's 'Face to Face' album. The new offering 'You Us It' was a return to the rawer sound of the first '999' album and far more aligned with their live set.

At the time, the band were playing regular sets at The Swan pub in Fulham (apparently Pablo's local) and some great nights were to be had down there. This excellent recording from Dusseldorf's Haus Der Jugend features no less that five tracks from the new album.



01. Black Flowers For The Bride
02. Inside Out
03. Hit Me
04. Feeling Alright With The Crew
05. (There Is No Glory In) Mary's Story
06. Titanic Reaction
07. Crazy Crazy Crazy
08. Boys In The Gang
09. White Light
10. Lil' Red Riding Hood
11. Chicane Destination
12. Don't You Know I Need You?
13. Let's Face It
14. Biggest  Prize In Sport
15. Absolution
16. Homicide (Cut)
17. My Street Stinks
18. I'm Alive
19. English Wipeout
20. Boiler

Saturday 25 January 2020

The Top Rank Suite Brighton 25th January 1982

Here's a birthday gig from the 'La Folie' tour. Thanks to Phil Coxon for the original recording and to Dom P for his nerdy noodlings to polish up the sound.

I have uploaded it here in high quality MP3 and in 24 bit FLAC format.


24 bit FLAC:

Artwork: PDFs are included in the MP3 folder

01. Intro (Waltzinblack)
02. Down In The Sewer
03. Just Like Nothing On Earth
04. Second Coming
05. Non Stop
06. The Man They Love To Hate
07. Who Wants The World?
08. Baroque Bordello
09. Golden Brown
10. How To Find True Love and Happiness in the Present Day
11. Thrown Away
12. Tank
13. Let Me Introduce You to the Family
14. Tramp
15. The Raven
16. Encore break
17. Announcement
18. Nuclear Device
19. Genetix

The Stranglers at The Top Rank in Brighton
25th January 1982

The Cramps The Stone San Francisco 13th May 1980

Now here's a band that I have just noticed have never appeared to date on the Aural Sculptors site in over eight years. And what a strange sound they did sculpt! They are also a band that I never got around to seeing live, they were around but I never got beyond.... oh, I must get a ticket.

Here is a really great early soundboard recording from San Francisco in 1980. Many thanks to the original sharer on Dime!



01. Intro
02. Human Fly
03. Domino
04. Caveman
05. Goo Goo Muck
06. The Way I Walk
07. Zombie Dance
08. What's Behind The Mask?
09. Strychnine
10. Garbage Man
11. I Was A Teenage Werewolf
12. Sunglasses After Dark
13. I'm Cramped
14. Mystery Plane
15. TV Set
16. Tear It Up

Thursday 23 January 2020

TV Smith - Over and Out

So there you have it. In a dozen posts or so, a contemporary look at the early career of TV Smith.... and what a rocky road it proved to be! I find it very hard to accept that a band who willingly acknowledged their own musical limitations ('One Chord Wonders' anyone?) and stressed the irrelevance of musical virtuosity in numerous interviews managed to get slated on such a regular basis for not being masters of their own instruments. Between side swipes at the band's playing and '70's era comments about the sultriness/sullenness (depending upon the personal preference of the male journalist) of Gaye, the real stand out element of The Adverts canon, i.e. Tim's lyrical contribution was largely overlooked.

It is without doubt that the 18 month interval between the release of the two studio albums did the band untold harm. If anything remained of the '60's in music it was the expectation of a prolific output.... unless you went by the name of Emerson, Lake and Palmer or Yes, a work rate of one and perhaps even two albums per year was not unusual even into the mid-seventies. For a band struggling contract-wise to get backing for a second album there was no worse time than 1978/1979, arguably the greatest 24 months in British musical history. Such was the quality of material in this period that a music fan had so much to latch on to that any band lagging behind, without product out there was easily and quickly forgotten.

That 'Cast of Thousands' was so poorly received is also something of a mystery to me. By the time that it hit the high street record racks, punk of the type that  'Crossing the Red Sea' represented  had imploded and/or exploded into a myriad of styles.... post-punk, two tone, electronica, power pop, Oi!..... In their musical diversity they shared one common musical thread that ran back to 1976 and the first wave of punk rock. So why did the 'Cast of Thousands' fall foul with the critics as it did..... it had keyboards (a studio pre-requisite in 1979) as did Buzzcocks, The Stranglers (OK they always had 'em) and even The Damned! What did the hacks want... 'Crossing The Red Sea... in the opposite direction')? Interestingly, at some point in the 2000's, in Mojo magazine I think that it was, 'Cast of Thousands' featured in it's regular 'lost treasures' feature..... how tastes can change with time!

And so The Adverts went off air, only for Tim to re-emerge just six months later, like a spindly phoenix rising from the ashes, with his new outfit, The Explorers. Moving on in the direction in which The Adverts would have continued had they not split. It may well indeed be the case that in subsequent releases The Explorers failed to fulfill the promise that the debut 'Tomahawk Cruise' offered, but they were good, both on record and on stage, as the Paisley and London recordings testify.

After a brief solo stint that delivered the 'Channel 5' album, which as an aside is infinitely superior to the actual UK 'Channel 5' that routinely pumps untold dross into British homes! TV was ready for yet another crack of the whip. However, wouldn't ya just know it... history was abut to repeat itself and this time with added interest.

TV Smith's Cheap formed in the '90's side of the mid '80's. Once again they were a tight and solid band of very able musicians, driven by good tunes that carried Tim's biting lyrics admirably. So what went wrong? From my experience of seeing them at this time, be it at The Devonshire Arms in Camden or The Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, early signs were always promising with a respectable turn out early doors in the back room of the pub. The support band would go on to play and folk leapt about as they do. Support act would duly finish, pack up their gear and make an exit from the venue.....taking the majority of the audience with them! Only a handful of punters ever remained, and one of them was preoccupied with flogging fanzines! I guess if Tim had stretched the set to include a couple of Adverts' songs, things could have panned out differently... but this was the '80's/early '90's and punk nostalgia was a no no! It was not for many years that he could embrace and celebrate the past.

Cheap (with an audience of one.... me!)

Tim has subsequently had a long and successful solo career, but to my mind it is when he performs with a band, be it these days, The Valentines or The Bored Teenagers that the material really has the impact that it deserves.

TV Smith's Explorers Music Machine London 1981

OK last recording for a while from Mr Smith and Co. This is a soundboard recording and probably incomplete, although if it was recorded at the Music Machine, the Explorers could have been the support slot.... its a big (and now sadly damaged) venue. Any ideas?



TV Smith's Explorers The Bungalow Bar Paisley 22nd April 1981

And here they are in Scotland. See what you think. Heartfelt thanks as always to the donor!



Tuesday 21 January 2020

Album Review - 'The Last Words of The Great Explorer' - Sounds 20th June 1981

Another positive review from the pages of Sounds, acknowledging that the 'Last Words' album was a flawed but highly accomplished album.

Underhand Undertones? The Explorer's exit The Undertones support dates

From Sounds 20th June 1981....

The Explorer's did play two gigs on the tour....

Leicester's De Montfort Hall on 8th June 1981
Bradford St George's Hall 9th June 1981.

Gig Review - TV Smith's Explorer's Fulham Greyhound London (Sounds 10th January 1981)

TV Smith's Explorer's - Some of the Press Reaction

Sounds seemed to enjoy a good relationship with Tim and his new venture, that is until Garry Bushall waded in with an absolute drubbing of the second single. Garry, admittedly it wasn't a worthy follow up to the promise of 'Tomahawk Cruise' but you championed some of the worst excesses of Oi! so your grasp on the musical scene of the early '80's wasn't the best!

Sounds 6th December 1980
‘Tomahawk Cruise' (Big Beat)

A corker! Spindly Tim Smith bounces back with a strong new band and quite stunning debut forty-five. A powerful, plangent observation of the meltdown menace as embodied in those godawful cruise missiles (cue jeers, hisses and colourful beer cans), it glides along on a thick bass heavy beat to cream your grey matter and leave you in a cooing heap. A delicious anthem shaded with tentative synth and cautious strength. A wardance. A delight.
The flip, 'See Europe' is also excellent, lyrically sharp and a bugger to get out of the brain. This is more than the week's best release — it's one of the finest singles of the year, 'you choose. . . between living and the Tomahawk cruise.'

Sounds 14th January 1981
'Tomahawk Cruise' (Chiswick)

Yep, I know this is a tried and tested orifice fave, but couldn't pass up the chance to recommend its purchase now it's been released on another label. Wouldn't usually go for a snatch of doom'n'disaster but TV does it powerfully, cleverly and memorably; with a dead catchy hookline and even a soupcon of synth. His second classic (first being 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes') which should be bought in droves, instantly.

Sounds 18th April 1981
‘The Servant’ (CBS)

This is wot experts might term a right bleedin’ let-down after the power-drive promise of Smiffy’s masterly ‘Tomahawk Cruise’ An ELO-style pseudo-classical intro leads into a pile of putrid pomp with no circumstance, as TV foams at the mouth and wets his knickers over nothing in particular. Overall it just shows up the limited effectiveness of Timmy’s high-pitched hysterics.

Opinions that the man is over-rated are backed up considerably by the fact that he’s only made two half-way decent singles in his entire five year career. Which is pretty feeble when you think about it.

Monday 20 January 2020

TV Smith's Explorers - TV Strikes Out For Pastures New

TV Smith's Explorers

TV Smith wasted no time in moping over the demise of his former band. At the time of The Adverts break-up there was already an album's worth of material penned (material that would have under different circumstances formed the basis of The Adverts' (no doubt difficult) third album). But fate interceded and new plans were hatched.

TV Smith's Explorers played their first gig on familiar turf at the Marquee Club in London on 13th March 1980. Initially, John Towe, drummer with The Adverts and Tim Cross, keyboard player from 'The Cast of Thousands' era backed Tim up.

Effectively, the band started once again from the so called Square One, building up a reputation and following through London club gigs. Studio time was snatched as and when it was available and some excellent material started to take shape, not least in the form of 'Tomahawk Cruise', an urgent piece of vinyl that earned then 'Single of the Week' status in Sounds (a feat not repeated for another decade, until Andy Peart writing for the same weekly paper got his mits on TV Smith's Cheap's 'Third Term' single!). For sure, 'Tomahawk Cruise' was an independent success but by virtue of the unsavory and controversial subject matter, the single was pretty much shunned by radio. That is not to say that the more progressive, mature forces within BBC radio ignored the band. Far from it, as was the case with The Adverts before them, the band were offered radio sessions for both John Peel and Richard Skinner. BBC endorsement of the band went even further when the band appeared on the landmark 'Old Grey Whistle Test' program....... stuff for the serious muso...... clearly the Explorer's had learned a second chord and more.

'Have Fun'/'The Perfect Life'
TV Smith's Explorers Old Grey Whistle Test 1981

Subsequent releases did not hit the critical heights that 'Tomahawk Cruise' enjoyed and the subsequent album 'Last Words of the Great Explorer' received mixed reviews on its release.

An ill-planned mini-German tour proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back and The Explorers were lost. Their final gig was played in Dortmund on 16th September 1981, just 18 months since their first.

When I listen to TV Smith's Explorers I hear a great post-punk band that suited the early 1980's perfectly so it is something of a mystery to me why they struggled to the extent that they did.

Nevertheless, and in this I am sure that Tim would agree' that he wasn't to see the last of bad luck when it came to being in bands. After an initial solo period, he took the plunge once again with the band format, forming TV Smith's Cheap. Once again, a brilliant band with brilliant material both musically and of course lyrically...... but Cheap died on their arse. More information about Cheap can be found here.

It seems that only now is Tim enjoying the spoils of his 40 years in the business and his music (across each of the bands... and his solo stuff) is being rightly appreciated here in the UK and across continental Europe.

Television's Over - A Last Word on the Adverts

Less than a calendar month after his band, The Adverts, threw in a sweat-stained, gob-flecked towel, the irrepressible Mr Smith was discussing the circumstances of the break-up and imminent plans for a new musical project (from TV's homepage (

Sounds 17th November 1979.

TV closes down

CHEERFUL CHAP, TV Smith. Here we are convened together for the first time in a professional capacity, officially as some sort of obituarising process for his just disbanded Adverts and chuckles are most definitely the order of the day. Bemused Tim Smith, lapping up the ultimate irony. He hands me a type written sheet: 'Welcome girls to this Chelsea Girl store it's the kinda store that tries to give you more of the sorta clothes that make the girls go wow!"

This, it transpires, is the main source of his amusement, a booking the next day as a session singer on a jingle for the Chelsea Girl chain of boutiques. "It's amazing: you go in for a couple of hours, sing it, and you earn a couple of hundred quid It's incredible It's more than I earn in a year. "Also on the jingleurs' pay-roll (of course Tim didn't write it himself) are latter day Adverts keyboardist Tim Cross and one Stoner, former bass man with Doctors Of Madness. These two, plus a 'name' guitarist and drummer (employed elsewhere at present, so therefore subject to at least temporary secrecy) will form the basis of the next TV Smith ensemble. There will be single on RCA, Tim's last commitment to that label under his Adverts deal.

The humour temporarily abated, Tim Smith takes time out to hit back at almost everyone who reviewed the Adverts parting shot, the 'Cast Of Thousands' LP. not least our own Garry Bushell ("He must have a lot of personal problems" and "It must be that double chin" being the few printable comments).

The 'critics' over-reactions aside, though, even a lot of Adverts (or more precisely Tim Smith) supporters weren't exactly heart broken by the group 's final demise, for my part, I'm quite willing to admit to Tim's face that the group's continued existence over the last year or so seems to have been more down to his own loyalty to the people he started out with than anything else. "You bet, " comes the reply. "That's the most important part. I mean, I do it for me mainly, but . . ."

There are advantages in going out with a whimper, Tim opines, "when everyone looks upon you as being really shit. If I'm really successful in the next six months it won't mess me 'up. You form an opinion about all the people that say you're really bad. . . "

Understandable really, this appetite for revenge. But, even granted that the Ads had graduated to every hack's favourite whipping boys in their last few months of existence, he must confess that there were times when they were really bad. "Bad gigs are great!" Smith chuckles. "They're really important!"

On reflection, he adds that he may never do another 'bad gig' again Then, "It must be terrible to be perfect every time. "

A pity, say I, that the band did seem to splutter nut in the end, just a handful of little
gigs and gone. "I'd love to have gone out with a really big farewell tour, " says TV Smith. "It's a pity that RCA really buried the Adverts before they were dead."

You mean they didn't put up any money for tour support? "They never put up any money. Ever. They never liked The Adverts. The guy that signed us was fired about a month later so there was nobody there we could talk to, who knew what we were on about They just figured how could they back a band that may or may not play a good gig or make a record. But that's what it's all about. "
My opinion that the group's pairing with producer Tom Newman was to say the least dodgy is met with another grin'n'chuckle. "I think it's fantastic getting in Mike Oldfield's producer and piano player. It was hilarious. . . "

But maybe not in your best interests? "It depends what my best interests are, " says Tim. with no hint of back pedalling on what's already been said. "If I look back on the last couple of years with The Adverts now I can see it as a two or three year thing. The Adverts were continually standing on the outside and seeing what they could do. Now it's all finished I've got to look at it in a different way, which isn't right. 'Cause while it was still going on everything was perfect as far as I was concerned. It'd be so boring if you just had stages One to Ten and just worked your way through. "

TV's quick to defend his former associates, too. "People were really insulting about Gaye's playing. But on the second album and on the last tour she was playing really well. I mean, to compare it with Jack Bruce would be pointless, but she was right for The Adverts, for what we were doing. " It's unlikely that Gaye herself will be playing again immediately, says Tim. "People were incredibly offensive to her personally Some guy from the NME said she was gross, it's hardly encouraging. "

For his part, Tim Smith says he's going to be a good boy now. "A determined amateur anyway, surrounded by brilliant musicians So probably the next step will be for everyone to say what a shit I am and then I'll leave and the group'll get someone else and everyone'll go 'Cor. what a good band.'
"I just want to write the best possible songs and get them played in the best possible way, " he says seriously He already has more than an albums' worth of new material and is, as they say, itching to go. "I couldn't stop and sit around doing nothing. I don't know what'd happen; I'd go nuts. "

There will never be another Adverts; no reunions promises TV Smith "I could never do that. I'd never reform The Adverts 'cause I'm not like that. It was a first stage, once I'm finished with something, that's it. "

Expect a new TV Smith waxing come January. Obit ends.

Interview by Giovanni Dadomo.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Poole Arts Centre 20th February 1990

Here's one that I went to back in 1990 on the '10' Tour.



01. Shah Shah A Go Go
02. I Feel Like A Wog
03. Tank
04. Straighten Out
05. Shakin’ Like A Leaf
06. 96 Tears
07. Someone Like You
08. Sweet Smell Of Success
09. Always The Sun
10. Spain
11. Where I Live
12. School Mam
13. Ships That Pass In The Night

01. Let’s Celebrate
02. Uptown
03. Was It You?
04. Down In The Sewer
05. Walk On By
06. No More Heroes
07. Nuclear Device
08. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Hug Cornwell The Haymarket Basingstoke 26th November 2019

Here's both set from Hugh's winter leg of the 'Monster' tour, from Basingstoke. Many thanks for the share of this gig to the site.... it's much appreciated as always!



First Set:
01. Pure Evel
02. La Grande Dame
03. I Want One Of Those
04. Beat Of My Heart
05. Monster
06. Land of a Thousand Kisses
07. Under Her Spell
08. Irate Caterpillar
09. The Most Beautiful Girl In Hollywood
10. Bilko
11. Bad Vibrations
12. Attack of the Major Sevens
13. Duce Coochie Man

Second Set:
01. Strange Little Girl
02. Nice 'n' Sleazy
03. Duchess
04. Sweden (All Quiet on the Eastern Front)
05. Always the Sun
06. I Feel Like a Wog
07. Goodbye Toulouse
08. No Mercy
09. Bring On The Nubiles
10. Hanging Around
11. Straighten Out
12. Skin Deep

Band Line Up:
Hugh Cornwell - Vocals, Guitar
Pat Hughes - Vocals, Bass Guitar
Windsor McGilvray - Vocals, Drums

Sunday 12 January 2020

JJ Gets a Good Frisking Japan January 1979

The Adverts Are No More!

The band called it a day, splitting after a final gig at Slough College on Saturday 27th October. To the best of my knowledge, Gaye's plans to release an anti-vivisection single came to nothing, whilst TV headed towards frontiers new with his new band The Explorers.

For those site visitors who have diligently ploughed through this string of posts it will be abundantly clear that The Adverts were never really beloved of the established music press. It always seemed to me that their (i.e. The Adverts) rather negative outlook (just look at the prevalence on terms suggesting that they 'didn't care') kind of back fired..... and moreover was very much at odds with a band who were passionate about what they did.

No doubt a gap of 18 months or so between their two studio albums was something of a disaster when operating in a particular corner of the music industry that was moving at a million miles an hour.

And yet..... and yet, looking back on their material now it is clear that Tim and Co. really did have something to say. 'Crossing The Red Sea' is now viewed as a classic album of the punk era, and rightly so.

I first saw Tim with his then band Cheap at the Angler's Retreat in West Drayton in 1989. As I recall the 'Red Sea' album had received it's first reissue on Link Records. I did not have the original album but was reluctant to by this version as I was unsure about the politics of some of the bands on the Link label. Cornering, Tim in the Gents, I explained my predicament to him and asked if he would record the album for me. He harrumphed a bit..... complaining that to do so would mean that he would have to listen to it again, but to give his dues he did record it for me (along with a recent Cheap Peel Session!). So what a long way he has come with this material.... it is brilliant that the now 63 year old performer is now reconciled with the songs that he penned in his 20's.

It still holds up Tim! And we mean it maaan!

The Adverts Sheffield Top Rank 19th August 1979

Nearly there! So here is a gig from the last days of The Adverts. As you can see, much of the 'Red Sea' material had at this point in time been dropped from the set in favour on material from the soon to be released 'Cast of Thousands' album. In actual fact the release of their second and final studio album pretty much coincided with the break up of the band.



Interview With The Adverts (New Musical Express 24th September 1977)

It a bit weird, I must admit, being packed off  to see The Adverts.

I always think these angry young things are going to chew me up in small pieces and spit me back out again, and I suspected I'd be happier at home with my Led Zeppelin records than ligging at the Locarno in Coventry.

Not a bit of it. All quiet pleasant. For one thing, a substantial segment of the audience resembled the natives inhabiting my own dimension of space and time, with a mere handful of would-be punkettes more nearly resembling Dusty Springfield circa 1964 than advertisements for Mrs. Howie or McLaren Enterprises.

For another, the band were so subdued in the dressing room I considered tap-dancing on the table to get them going. Gaye kept leaning out of the loo to direct drummer Laurie Driver's listless doodlings on her bass "From the fifth to the third'! Right." - and retreating back.

TV (Tim) Smith sat hunched and withdrawn for about an hour, meditatively coughing and sipping beer. Unlikely looking manager Michael Dempsey, a publisher friend of NME's Miles (who put him onto the band in the first place and is going to help produce their next single), hopped around bubbling in counterpoint to the band's apparent nervousness.

The first and only previous time I’d seen The Adverts was last winter at the Roxy, about two minutes after they got together. Even then I thought they had something, although I would have been hard pressed to say what exactly.

More recently it seems the fashion in some quarters to be patronizing about The Adverts and sneer that they're terrible when they patently aren't.

Laurie's convinced some of the slagging originated in one well-known punk commentator’s failure to have his evil way with Gaye, which brings me to my biggest realisation of the gig - that Gaye's bass playing is far from the hilarious-joke one has been led to believe, since she's graduated from her initially fearful and delicate finger placement to an adequately ballsy attack.

Now, at least three Adverts articles that have passed under my nose at some point in the last two months have made the identical, hackneyed charge that "Gaye is no Jack Bruce".

Give it a rest, guys. The New Wave has yet to yield any bassist with that calibre of musical education and experience. If people are going to start awarding points on a scale of mature musical artistry now, at least apply the same standards to everyone in the show.

Besides, the statement is about as relevant and  informative as saying Rat Scabies is no Chick Webb or Johnny Rotten  is no Barbra Streisand.

The other face of the media gab has the Sun including Gaye in its recent characteristically intellectual analysis of the "saucy pop" girls and the Daily Express electing her the ethereal, enamel-faced  inheritor of Marianne Faithfull's mantle - everyone's fave wasted English rose.

Playing it straight , Gaye just seems to me to be a very nice girl who is nervous, talkative but hard to follow as she shyly swallows words, averts her eyes and skitters away in pained awareness of photographers.

If she's looking more and more like an only partly reluctant donor to her friendly neighbourhood vampire rather than the girl next door ("I’ve had three pieces of toast today" she protested when I accused  her of not eating) she will still cheerfully reflect that the nicest thing about "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" doing so well is that her parents are pleased.

On stage she looks stronger and cooler, but she's very self-conscious, a situation that's been exacerbated by the kind of press she's excited and the occasional cries of "Get 'em off" that still stick in her craw.

Her way of dealing with it is to keep her head down and maintain a steely fascination with her frets .

"People have the totally wrong attitude to me just 'because I’m a female. People are always going on about what you're wearing and how you present yourself. Some musicians have helped  me, but people in general don't. I'm just desperately trying to get a good sound and play right. I.'m not one of Pan's People. I really like the audience, but I'd almost rather stand behind the stage and play where they can't see me."

Why she does it then is, reasonably enough, because she's got a compulsion to. When she couldn't get a job as a graphic designer after leaving art college, Tim encouraged her to act on the fascination with the bass she says she's had ever since she was a kid, buying Beatles and Monkees records, and more so since she was 13 and discovered Zappa. (although hero numero uno is Iggy Iggy Iggy, whose kisser decorates her clothes, her walls and her bass, the thought of supporting him on his forthcoming tour has her in palpitations).

"I just always listened to the bass. When Tim was working and I was at home all day doing nothing I was getting completely confused.

"Then I was seeing The Stranglers every week and I started trying to play like Jean Jacques." I love it – I was a mouse wife until discovered sadisto rock . .. the effect was shattering.

Gaye is kinder about many of her contemporaries than some of them have been about her. "I wouldn't say any of them are bad at playing. At least they've got guts." . .

And she laughs at her propensity to put herself down in comparison to her enthusiasms for other bands.

"When I told Johnny Rotten the Pistols were my favourite band, he said ‘You’re not supposed to say that!’ You should think you're the best’ I suppose he's right."

Tim says he doesn't care what's said about them. It's all so corny anyway; the same thing always happens to new bands, etc.

However, later, when we replay a tape of their airing on John Peel's programme - an excellent performance with the band sounding really confident - he looks up, genuinely puzzled and says, "I don't see why people say we can't play. I’m not sure why we're the band that's been chosen to bear the brunt of the accusations of not being able to play."

 “It could be because we have a female in the group", guitarist Howard Pick-up interjects.

"I object to these accusations because Tim and I have been in bands before, and even if Laurie and Gaye haven't I think we're now as good as any of them."

That's what they all say, honey. But I’ll testify they got 'em going down the Mecca, and I had a dancey time.

"I think we actually try stuff that's technically much more difficult than most of the stuff that's going around on the New Wave or whatever you call it," Tim was eventually pushed into arguing. "We try strange rhythms in the songs ...

"Very strange," Howard howled." . .. and we don't always succeed," Tim finished , "but I believe in songs because that's what comes into your head when you walk down the street, not the band's noise."

But when you've only had one major single released it's sometimes difficult for an audience to discern whether it's hearing a savage, searing indictment of our time or not.

"It's irrelevant discussing what songs mean. Just like asking our opinion on things is setting us up on a pedestal. I just write songs and I had to play them. "

Why? Just another compulsion, I'm led to believe, and screw looking for answers or rewards .

"I would categorically state that I don't care if I get rich, famous or laid, and I think it's crazy when people shout for you and things.

"As far as I'm concerned I’m just an object to do the songs.

“You have to make sure there are certain lines which are going to stick out, even live, so they can catch you emotionally if not intellectually – just little things that make you swoop up when you hear them.

“It’s like that for me performing. I’ll sing a line here or there and suddenly it gets me up.”

What is this anti-hero stuff? No hopes, no dreams, or aspirations, either financial or physical? No political pretensions?

Is this another New Wave line?

“We’re not New Wave. There are no categories. They ought to cut that now.

“Stop calling in punk or New Wave or anything, so it would just be bands again. Politics is just another cliché. It is part of life, inseparable.”

If there is a – you’ll pardon the pretension – recurring theme in some of Tim’s songs I’d say it was that there is no  point in looking to anyone or anything else to make it for you, as in "New Church” or in the next single, " Safety in Numbers".

"It’s the latest thing to be nowhere/ You can blend into the wallpaper/But you know were always there anyway without the New Wave/What about the New Wave?/Did you think it would change things?"

The cynic in me says this kid is disillusioned.  Allowing, however, that he may be in the purer state of being simply without illusions, what then does he want to do?

“I just like to think that people could come along and have a good time. I think it ought to be a very exciting experience coming to see us. I'd get a buzz out of watching it.

"Unfortunately I'm never in a position where I can watch it."

Gaye had said, “I don 't know what I want to happen. All these business people keep talking about what we're wearing and 'is the follow up commercial?'

"I don't really care if it is commercial if I really like it. It 's nice that we have some say in it and know what's going on, otherwise you end up like Abba in two year's time."

Well , but Abba are rich and popular.

Okay, so The Adverts reckon they don't pine for externals. Tim wears a home, made badge that reads:
"Is yours a LIVING room? Is it a HAVEN, do you feel secure and ... "

Security, like riches and fan letters, being another false god, I presume.

“If everything went right, there would be something wrong."  Tim reasoned . "You have to have tension to keep alive . "

Gig Review - The Adverts Coatham Hall, Redcar 23rd July 1978 (Sounds 5th August 1978)

Outnumbered 600 bored teenagers to one bored non-teenager. I felt pretty lonely in
Redcar on a Sunday night witnessing The Adverts emerge from their 'period of transition'.

A new direction bad been promised, but while the show self -evidently fulfilled the hopes of the Teeside itinerants, it failed to throw any further light on the validity of a band whose credibility has always seemed rather marginal. Frankly, this was just more music to pogo to; you didn't have to be an Adverts aficionado fully conversant with the band's method to realise that nothing much has changed.

Nevertheless (having just left Anchor Records with apparent bad feeling, the company no longer interested in further promoting 'Crossing The Red Sea'), The Adverts manage to market themselves effectively. And even though it's all fairly superficial product, not many people here seemed to care.

I suppose the fact the 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' - still their best song, tasteless as it is - has been promoted to song number two instead of being hoarded for the encore indicates that The Adverts feel they have something better to offer. If they're right, it's probably In the shape of 'Television's Over' and 'I Surrender'. More melodic numbers than standard Adverts, they have a trace of sophistication, even some jangling Byrds chords, which come as relatively interesting relief from T. V. Smith's intensely monotonous verbal batteries - as heavy on the ears as they are on punk images and catch-phrases. T.V. cools it for this newer material, his delivery tones down while he almost motionlessly caresses the mike like some of the new wave vocalists do across the Atlantic.

Up against the wall: TV Smith is floored
(Coatham Hall, Redcar 23rd July 1978)

Then it's business as usual as the band resumes its customary vernacular with numbers like
'We Who Wait', 'New Boys' and 'On Wheels'; 'New Church' expressed in rock and roll for
people who just want to hang loose and replenish their beer supply is straight pretentious liberal fascism. I mean, could you/would you pogo to religious propaganda?

Personnel-wise, The Adverts only have one tangible asset and that’s Gaye Advert. She can’t play to any great extent but at least she looks like she knows it . Guitarist Howard Pickup still ludicrously looks like an academic even though he’s opted for scantier clothing, while T.V., stripping down from something like a safari jacket to an off the shoulder shredded black T-shirt (you’d have thought he’d be one of the first to know better), looks more like Johnny Weismuller than a punk. Moreover, the stage was here a little too vast for him: excelling when he’s cramped, the Coatham Bowl’s commodious dias offered his act none of the required physical constraints.

The band closed the set with ‘Bored Teenagers’, ‘No Time to be 21’ and ‘One Chord Wonders’, and by that time one wondered how many more ‘vogue’ clichés this team is capable of trotting out. If The Adverts really do have musical ambition/aspirations , these are numbers that will have to go. Smith’s over-anxiety to make statements, some of them expedient) like manufacturing anthems for younger kids), others blatantly naive, isn’t the kind of policy to take this band into the future.

Not so much a rock n roll concert as an ecological offence, one left wondering exactly how many votaries had shown up strictly for Gaye.

When Gaye Got To Play With Iggy

Gate Advert makes her feelings known for Iggy (1977)

If there is one thing of which Gaye Advert cannot be accused it is of hiding her love of Iggy and the Stooges. Over two night's (30th September and 1st October 1977) MAM promoters fixed it for the young lady to appear on the same stage as her hero when the Adverts were billed as support for the 'Godfather of Punk' over two nights at the Rainbow Theatre in London. In a career that, I think it is fair to say, never hit the heights that it should of, both Gaye and TV view this occasion as one of the highlights for their band. So much so in fact that TV wrote about it years later in his 'Punk Rock Poem'.

'Punk Rock Poem' by TV Smith

It was strange being in a punk rock band
People gobbed on us, then shook us by the hand
We played every toilet in this green and slimy land
First of all for fifteen quid, then - later on - a grand!

Thirty days of madness touring with the Damned
Turning up to soundcheck to find out we'd been banned
Driving back to London in the mini-van

Didn't get to the U.S.A. as planned

And, looking back, we didn't change the music scene a lot
But we did have one hit single, and supported Iggy Pop
And sometimes people tell me that the Adverts changed their lives
And that's nice

It was great being in a punk rock band.

The Adverts in The New Wave Magazine

The Adverts featured again in another UK based 1977 fanzine ‘The New Wave Magazine’ edited by Nag and Sex Ade (I believe).

'The Adverts are on stage. “This is the real thing” announces T.V. Smith as the band smash their way into ‘One Chord Wonders’. ‘New Boys’ quickly follows as T.V. jumps and cavorts around the stage. Howard, on guitar, looks as though he has just stepped out of a horror movie, a tall, menacing figure relentlessly bludgeoning out the chords. ‘Quick Step’, and Gaye coolly picks out the bass line, content to stand to one side and concentrate on her playing. She plays strange rhythms almost using the bass as a lead. ‘On the Roof’, ‘New Day Dawning’ and all the while Laurie crashes into the drums just as if they were his mother-in-law that he hates. ‘We Who Wait’, ‘Bored Teenagers’ as T.V. screams and spits out his lyrics. There’s so much pain and anger in his voice. An apathetic audience find the time changes to difficult to relate to. ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ and then ‘Bombsite Boy’ T.V. tells the audience what he thinks of their lack of life. The finale is ‘Great British Mistake’ which ends as a mass of feedback and noise when Laurie kicks the drums all over the stage and microphones are left screaming by the amplifiers. A great gig from them but a cold and lifeless audience. Get to see this band. You’ll love them or hate them. Better find out!'

'T.V. Smith Interview by Nag and Ade (1977).

N/A: What made you choose the name ‘Adverts’?

TV: Well, what do you see in the name?

N/A: It’s the boring thing on television, so you’re an opposite to that?

TV: It’s a question of opposites definitely. I hate the adverts, right, ‘cos they’re selling you something you don’t want. But they’re fucking selling it because… there’s no honesty in the adverts. They’re all fucking lies. They’re telling you what they want to sell because they’ve been paid the money to make the adverts….. all that shit! It can go down the drain for all I care. There’s no point to it. I don’t need to be told what I want to buy. I’ll buy what I want to buy anyway.

N/A: What would you say are your musical influences?

TV: There’s no need to see influences. Influences are a thing of the past. I’ve liked people… Bowie, Iggy, Dolls. Who haven’t I liked, that’s the more important question. I haven’t liked Yes, ELP…. What I don’t like is the big superstar thing – you can’t be in a band unless you’ve played the scales every day. That’s what really stifled music. All you’ve got to do is learn a few chords, try and get a rhythm together, and if you’ve got something in your head then put it out. Who cares whether you can fucking play all the notes! I don’t care. No one cares.

N/A: How would you define the music? What sort of music do you call it?

TV: One thing I hate is categories. A lot of people turned up tonight expecting to see a punk band: 1-2-3-4 blam blam blam blam. It didn’t happen and they were put off. That’s what went wrong tonight. People have got this stereotype of punk music from their music papers. They’ve read NME and Sounds and they think , here it comes, it’s gonna be headbanging time. But maybe it wasn’t. Maybe they didn’t like it and it’s going to take a bit longer than that . What group made it on their first ten gigs? Not many, not unless they’ve got a big advert hype going for them, and a lot of money behind them to push their full page ads in the music papers.'

The Adverts Paradiso Amsterdam 10th March 1978

Now finally with their long awaited debut album, 'Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts', released, the first three months of 1978 saw the band on tour, including a short hop over the Channel for two gigs, one in Brussels and this one at the Paradiso in Amsterdam.



01. Bored Teenagers
02. Male Assault
03. Quick Step
04. Bombsite Boy
05. On The Roof
06. New Day Dawning
07. On Wheels
08. New Boys
09. Drowning Men
10. New Church
11. No Time To Be 21
12. Gary Gilmore's Eyes
13. The Great British Mistake

The Wonders Don't Care - Just As Well Really..... The Record Reviews

Debut single review by Danny Baker.
Sniffin’ Glue Issue 10 June 1977.

One chord Wonders/Quickstep (STIFF) 

I really like the Adverts, (Gary Gilmore’s Eyes is a classic), as ever the drums and bass are right up front, for a group, (all join in on this cliché) – you either love or hate. Great track, ‘specially the lyrics, but will do lousy as a single, good B side ennall.

Ripped & Torn Fanzine Issue 9 (November 1977) Single Review by Tony Drayton

Safety in Numbers/We Who Wait (Anchor)

This isn’t very good at all. Onstage it’s a fairly good highlight but on the old black vinyl it doesn’t cut it at the first half, and when the chorus comes in it doesn’t lift it like it should, like it could have with a bit of thought. I like the pic sleeve.

Melody Maker 5th November 1977

Safety in Numbers/We Who Wait (Anchor)

Neither have the instantaneous impact of that ghoulish delight that was “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes,” but with a little perseverance they will reward in a different fashion. 

What does strike straight away is how improved Tim Smith is. His larynx has never been more assured and expressive as he lashes out a few home truths about the Blank Generation. 

“Safety in Numbers” includes lines like “It is the latest thing to be nowhere/And turn into wallpaper/And you know you’re always there anyway.” Spite? Sour grapes? No. Just a more balanced and considered outlook.

Producer/journalist (they get everywhere nowadays) Miles has laudably given the distinctive juddering tempo a fine cutting edge. The cover has a wry touch – new wave pin-up Gaye Advert is represented by her bass in its case. No exploitation for these lads.

New Musical Express 21st January 1978

No Time to be 21 (Bright Records)

Their fourth record and The Adverts definitely come of age, settling down and hinting at future consistency. This is a good rock song, an insidious number, a grower, and it borrows healthily. The group, it seems have at last found an instrumental balance, and there is no destruction of that precise, charging Adverts sound. Their smartest single. Will chart, will take time. No-one predicted them for the big break this year, but they don’t care. They have something to say. Juggling with clichés and coming out well on top.

Sounds 18th November 1978

Television’s Over (RCA)

Another outbreak of cathode tube blue-glow poisoning has been reported in TV Smith’s living room. Old thoughts and dull chords make Britain a bad place to dance in. Less entertainment value than the closedown dot on 625 lines.

New Musical Express 27th October 1979

Cast of Thousands (RCA) 

A band that steadfastly refuses to acknowledge its own futility. Their one moment of singles fame came with the help of a song which bore a remarkable resemblance to an old Slade album track. Lacking any such inspiration on this occasion, they strum a sloppy, misconceived song about doom and other important things, and sound about as convinced of the need to make this statement as you are to be of the need to hear it. The unorthodox slant of TV Smith’s lyrics may one day pay off, but not until he writes songs that aren’t as instantly forgettable and finds a band to play them that isn’t instantly hopeless. All five Adverts wear mascara. Somewhere along the line there is a connection.