Inactive since the dissolution of his last live bands, TV Smith's Party Line (1983) and TV Smith's High (1984), the former Adverts and Explorers vocalist formed a new group in mid-1986. Bassist Andy Benney had played alongside Smith in Sleaze, a mid-'70s Torquay-based post-glam band; guitarist Mik Heslin was formerly of Chaotic Dischord.
Joined by drummer Simon Budd, Cheap debuted at the Fulham Greyhound in October 1986, a hard-hitting garage punk band that showcased some of the most aggressive and fiercely political songs Smith had ever written -- and that includes the Adverts repertoire.
Cheap made their recorded debut with one track, "New Ways Are Best," on 1987's Mindless Slaughter anti-fox-hunting album. A string of charity shows and benefits followed before Budd was replaced by ex-Max Merritt & the Meteors drummer Martin Deniz in late 1987.
Early in the New Year, Cheap recorded a fantastic John Peel session, following up with the well-received Sleep on the Floor tour of the U.K. Further gigs were accompanied by contributions to the various-artists albums Grim Humour ("Luxury in Exile"), Dissident ("200 Blows"), and A Pox on the Poll Tax ("Silicon Valley Holiday"). In late 1989, Cheap signed with the Deltics label and cut their debut 45, "Third Term."
At the same time, Smith launched a parallel career as a solo performer (the bonus cut on the Third Term 12" single, "Newshound," debuted this new guise on vinyl), and it slowly became apparent that this was the career course he had been seeking. Cheap disbanded in 1991, shortly after recording their debut album, Yeah Yeah Yeah. Unreleased at the time, it was finally issued in 1993 as RIP -- Everything Must Go.