on 16 July 2010
The much derided follow up to the great Crossing the Red Sea... is well worthy of a reevaluation. Released at a time when punk - as well as The Adverts - were going through huge upheavals, this album is imaginative, sharp and - at times - downright brutal. Tracks such as Male Assault and The Adverts could easily have been on the first album, while others like Cast of Thousands, I Looked At The Sun and Televisions Over show a new more experimental side to the band. The most bilstering tracks for me though are I Surrender and I Will Walk You Home. The former is an angry tirade against many things and includes scathing lines such as "Birds of a feather drop dead together". Absolutely awesome. Walk You Home is a slow, almost scary end to the album, where the song title is sung more like a pretty nasty threat than a promise. TV Smiths voice never sounded better, while the rest of the band prove there competence as musicians by giving the track a meanacing feeling right from the start.
All in all, this is an incredible second album from a band that I rate above both The Clash and the Sex Pistols for originality, observation and genius.
on 11 March 2002
This to me is one of the saddest of albums. Because some of the songs on it are brilliant, eloquent and still moving 25 years on, yet they're strangled by the playing and production.
TV Smith succeeded in reaching beyond the punk template and in 'I Surrender' and 'I Looked at the Sun' (among others) produced extraordinarly elegaic anthems for the world view of our trapped, defiant generation.
A spiritual, considered kind of punk, then - if punk it is at all. The generation concerned of course are mostly about 40 now - but still 'looking to the sun, having to have something' - and the themes are universal.
But TV Smith's intelligence and passion are (almost but not quite) killed by the tinny production and playing-in-their-sleep musicianship. I still listen to it, but I'm a fan. Others should start with how it SHOULD have sounded, on the imported radio sessions album 'Wonder's don't care'.
While they could descend into being just another '1234' shout, the best of the Adverts was full of this kind of defiant, bleak romanticism.
To these ears 'A cast of thousands' could have been the album of a true plugged-in seer, something got lost in the transition from street prophecy to studio.
'Hunt like a brave man with a flashlight'. It's all you can do.
on 28 May 2015
The Adverts always hold a special place for me as they were the first band I ever saw. I just bought the extended version of T.V. Smith's explorers cd last week & I was surprised to read in the sleeve notes that this album was not well received. I have a slightly dog eared vinyl version of this that I bought on release & later bought this cd release. To be honest I actually prefer this to crossing the Red sea, I never actually have ever heard any one say anything negative about this release.
on 8 February 2001
In the late 70 "second album shortage" was a common problem amoung punk bands. The follow up efforts of the Damned, the Jam, the Dead Boys and Slaughter & the Dogs were all frowened on upon their initial release. Today, however, those are good albums. The Adverts' second was a lousy record in 1979...and it's STILL lousy! Tired early techno pop from a sleepwalking band. Even a routine rehash of their "Crossing the Red Sea" masterpiece would have been an improvement. Even die hard fans of "Red Sea" should skip this!