The Adverts were an English punk band who formed in 1976 and broke up in late 1979. They were one of the first punk bands to enjoy chart success in the UK, and their line-up included Gaye Advert, whom The Virgin Encyclopedia of 70s Music called the "first female punk star".
The band was formed in 1976 by T.V. Smith and Gaye Advert. Smith and Advert were both from Bideford, a small coastal town in Devon, and were later married. After relocating to London the two young punks recruited guitarist Pickup and drummer Driver, and the Adverts were born.
The Roxy, London's first live punk venue, played a crucial role in the Adverts’ early career. They were one of the pioneering bands who played at the club during its first 100 days. The Adverts played at the club no less than nine times between January and April 1977. In January 1977, after their first gig supporting Generation X, the band impressed Michael Dempsey so much that he became their manager. Their second gig supporting Slaughter & the Dogs was recorded, and their anthem "Bored Teenagers" was included on the UK Top 30 album The Roxy London WC2. In February, shortly after the band's third gig supporting The Damned, they signed a recording contract with Stiff Records. In March, the band supported The Jam at the Roxy.
In April, the Adverts recorded the first of four sessions for John Peel at BBC Radio 1. Days later, their debut single, "One Chord Wonders", was released. The single, "a headlong rush of energy", was recommended by both Melody Maker and Sounds. Understanding the band's limitations, the song's lyrics, composed by TV Smith, were likeably self-deprecating:
The Adverts were a prolific live act. Their first nationwide tour was with Stiff label-mates the Damned. The tour poster read, "The Adverts know one chord, the Damned know three. See all four at…" Later they would support Iggy Pop on tour, as well as conducting their own headlining tours in Britain, Ireland and Europe.
In August, the band released the first of their two UK Top 40 hit singles. Lyrically, "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" was a controversial song based on the wishes of Gary Gilmore, an American murderer, that his eyes be donated to medical science after his execution. Sounds described it as "the sickest and cleverest record to come out of the new wave". Years later, it was included in Mojo magazine’s list of the best punk rock singles of all time.
After the tabloid-fuelled controversy surrounding the single, and an appearance on Top of the Pops, the Adverts became big news. Observers focused on frontman T.V. Smith and bassist Gaye Advert. Reviewers noted T.V. Smith's song-writing ability. He was said to have "captured the spirit of the times few contemporaries could match". Another reviewer described Smith as the band’s "raging heart, spitting out the failsafe succession of songs which still delineate punk’s hopes, aspirations and, ultimately, regrets". In contrast, Gaye Advert's reputation was more fleeting. She was "one of Punk’s first female icons". Her "photogenic" looks, "panda-eye make-up and omnipresent leather jacket defined the face of female punkdom until well into the next decade".
The band’s follow-up single, "Safety in Numbers", did not chart. A fourth single, "No Time To Be 21", scraped into the UK Top 40. A month later, their debut album Crossing The Red Sea was released, and has become one of the most highly regarded albums of the punk era, with Dave Thompson calling it "a devastating debut, one of the finest albums not only of the punk era, but of the 1970s as a whole", Trouser Press calling it "the equal of the first Sex Pistols or Clash LP, a hasty statement that captures an exciting time", and several other writers including it in lists of all-time greatest albums.
Despite releasing some more well-regarded singles, the Adverts were not able to maintain the momentum and their career stalled after the release of their second album. The band members at the time were also threatened with lawsuits by former members Rod Latter and Howard Pickup, who objected to the band continuing to use the Adverts name without them. They split up shortly after the accidental death by electrocution of their manager, Michael Dempsey. Their last gig was at Slough College on 27 October 1979. After the band split up, T.V. Smith continued with Tim Cross as T.V. Smith's Explorers, then Cheap, and finally from the 1990s to date performing as a solo artist.
In regards to their legacy, critic and author Dave Thompson argues that "nobody would make music like the Adverts and nobody ever has. In terms of lyric, delivery, commitment and courage, they were, and they remain, the finest British group of the late 1970s".
Former members who have died include Tim Cross (died 9 July 2012), and Howard Pickup (died 7 November 1997).
- Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts (17 February 1978: Bright Records BRL201) UK No. 38
- Cast Of Thousands (12 October 1979: RCA Records PL25246)
- Live At The Roxy Club (1990: Receiver)
- The Wonders Don’t Care: The complete radio recordings (1997: Burning Airlines)
Appearances on various artist compilations
- "Bored Teenagers" featured on the Live at the Roxy WC2 compilation album (24 June 1977: Harvest Records SHSP4069) UK No. 24
- "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" featured on the 20 of Another Kind compilation album (1979: Polydor Records POLS1006) UK No. 45
- "One Chord Wonders" and "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" featured on the No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion box set (2003: Rhino Records B0000DD539)
- "One Chord Wonders" / "Quickstep" (29 April 1977: Stiff Records BUY13)
- "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" / "Bored Teenagers" (19 August 1977: Anchor Records ANC1043) UK No. 18
- "Safety In Numbers" / "We Who Wait" (28 October 1977: Anchor Records ANC1047)
- "No Time To Be 21" / "New Day Dawning" (20 January 1978: Bright Records BR1) UK No. 34
- "Television's Over" / "Back From The Dead" (10 November 1978: RCA Records PB5128)
- "My Place" / "New Church" (1 June 1979: RCA Records PB5160)
- "Cast Of Thousands" / "I Will Walk You Home" (19 October 1979: RCA Records PB5191)
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Image from Discogs