Niall McGuirk on TV Smith‘s Book Of The Year – Punk Rock Tour Diaries: Volume 5
So when the Stranglers wrote about No More Heroes they didn’t really want us not to have heroes – it was more a statement that there are none to worship. Of course, when Glen Friedman brought out his book Fuck You Heroes it was more a statement of equals. People only fall off pedestals eventually.
However in the punk rock world there are ever-moving pedestals and while TV Smith may not seem like a prime candidate, he is well deserving of one. He is a man that just can’t say no. Many will remember The Adverts and that hit, Gary Gilmore’s Eyes. I sure do, I even remember them being on Top Of The Tops.
That first album, ‘Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts‘ is one of THE classic punk records. My tape of it was well worn out by the time I had left my first office job. We had a lucky corner in the top of a four story building full of glass but no windows that you could open. Our doors were closed and once our work was being done we could listen to whatever the hell we wanted. Being an all-inclusive unit we each agreed to one tape each and Harbour Hotel on the radio every lunchtime. That was the signal to down pens, I still remember that radio soap with great fondness. Anyway, my double side tape had The Adverts & The Rezillos on one side, and the compilation, Burning Ambitions, A history of Punk on the other. That competed with AC/DC and Guns and Roses (and I eventually recognised with small fondness some of the riffs in those songs) however The Adverts were the real winners.
TV Smith went on to continue releasing music post-Adverts and as with many 80s casualties it gets ignored in the history writing. He eventually realised that he could make do with his guitar and wrote some great solo albums. In the interim, festivals like Rebellion reinvigorated old school bands and people were looking for The Adverts songs once again. They were admitting their fondness for the classics.
TV keeps bashing away releasing his own records, playing DIY gigs, talking to people and being accessible. He has no pedestal to climb onto but his music pays his bills and the people who assist are there to be thanked not frowned at. This book is his tour diary for 2013, where he could have had his passport stamped in Argentina, Austria, Basque Country, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Russia, Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland and Uruguay as well as his home nation of the UK. It tells of how gigs come about and how he can’t really say no when asked to play a gig. It is not a rock’n’roll tale, but more a story of the possibilities of dong it yourself. It isn’t a celebration of DIY just a plain tale of what can be achieved.
It’s fascinating reading when taken against the world of rock’n’roll that The Adverts temporarily gatecrashed. Along with bands like the Clash and the Buzzcocks, they railed against a system and an industry that ultimately put them on the pedestal, before sweeping it from under their feet. Most went back to DIY, probably more to do with necessity as A&R people stopped calling. TV Smith hangs out with the audience at most of the gigs he plays, they are the ones after all that he wants to buy his merch to pay off his next bill. They are the ones who listens to the heartfelt words he sings and want to talk to him about. They are the ones he can’t say no to.