TV Smith

Channel Five

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Of all the many and different LPs TV Smith has recorded since his storied days with the Adverts ended in 1979, 1983's Channel Five may not actually be his best, but it's always been a favorite. This is Smith at his most lovable. Oddly, his sociopolitical eye is sharper here than it's even been in several years, as insinuated by the LP title (there are only four TV channels in Britain). Somehow, his cutting words are twice as subversive pecking at your exposed conscience when served up by the beep-boop machine rhythms, acoustic guitar, and dominating fluff organ, like the bird that plucked out Prometheus' liver every day for giving man fire. Tackling the sort of social issues that usually make for insipid sloganeering, vapid posturing, dilettante do-goodisms, and incoherent message-rock, Smith positively excels. The songwriting is so tight, it's clear Smith was still running on the same fat fumes, the same total knack for which the Adverts' two LPs and six singles remain renowned. His voice sounds calmed and resigned (and sometimes tricky), never heavy-handedly belting out the hooks, and on the best cuts, you find yourself dying to sing along before you find out what seditious stuff he wants you to sing! [The best thing about the 2000 reissue is that the LP is now available at all. Most of the original pressing was defective, warping on the shelves. Then the label that issued it went under only three months later, before a new pressing could correct it! Now everyone can enjoy a rare and unique piece of after-punk synth pop with substance, on CD, with seven good bonus songs at that.]

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