Famously recorded with Mike Oldfield associate Tom Newman at the controls, the second Adverts album was never going to be just another punk album. Although the group's live performance remained as fiery as ever, T.V. Smith was opening their sound to all manner of influences, including augmenting the lineup with keyboards -- Richard Strange handled synth on what would become the new album's title track, before Newman introduced another Oldfield sideman, Tim Cross. His flourishes and textures would come to dominate the record (he appears on all but two songs), adding to the alien environment that was the new, ambitiously arranged world of the Adverts. It was not an album that was to win the Adverts many friends, but it probably wasn't meant to. A flagrant departure from even the most extreme expectations, Cast of Thousands not only cast the band adrift from the new wave mainstream, but it would also alienate all but the most adaptable of the band's following. Live, the new songs had blended effortlessly into their surroundings, adapting so many of the characteristics of the older numbers that one could almost believe they were seeking defensive camouflage. Once in the studio, however, the Adverts dispensed with every last vestige of familiarity, treating each song as if it were a completely new piece, and not, as in the case of "Male Assault," the oldest song in sight, something which they'd dragged along to every gig they'd done for the past 18 months. And, overall, it worked, although the Adverts themselves would not stick around to reap its rewards. Barely was the album in the stores than the band broke up, leaving Cast of Thousands alone to be battered by the brickbats of misunderstanding critics -- not until its CD reissue, a full 19 years later, was the album perceived as the heroic and, in places, precognitive effort that it was, a window opening into the extremes (and, occasionally, excesses) of the 1980s new wave, and doing so with such effectiveness that the bonus tracks, drawn from the band's period singles, sound absolutely old-fashioned by comparison.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson