TV Smith – Book Of The Year

TV SMith
Book Of The Year
Punk Rock TOur Diaries; Volume Five

tvsmith1

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 evermoving 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 remeber 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 each 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 Burning Ambitions, A history of Punk on the other. That competed with ACDC 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 80’s 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 accessable. He has no pedestal to climb onto but his music pays his bills and the people who assist are therer 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, Finaland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Russia, Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland and Uruguay as well as him home nation of the UK. It tells of how gigs come abiout 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 sstory 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. Them, along with bands like the Clash and the Buzzcocks rallied against a system and an industry that ultimately put them on the pedestal and kicked it off. 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 in, 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

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Rebellion Day 1 – the wild hearted outsiders view

Rebellion 2015 day 1

I don’t look like a punk, so perhaps I am not a real punk in the sense of living and looking the part. Yet punk has had a profound impact on the way I see the world, and even on the decisions that I make. If I am not a punk…punk and punks are a source of fascination to me.
So here I am back in the strange and wonderful place called Blackpool…in a sense the perfect place for the gathering of the disciples of punk.

Two acts today define what punk means to me: T.V. Smith and Andy Higgins.

T.V. Smith proves that songs that sounded brilliant, exciting, meaningful and insightful in 1977 are still just as vibrant and relevant today. Smith’s energy and enthusiasm make him the perfect statesman for punk with a message: think for yourself…and just do it!

Andy Higgins delivered a passionate performance on the acoustic stage that will have given Pavarotti little cause to concern in the vocal stakes. He may never win Britain’s got Talent yet Andy asks pertinent questions about how things work….why power is concentrated in certain hands, and what that means for all of us. Andy ran a very creditable campaign in the last general election in England: he doesn’t. Just talk and sing about the concentration of power, he rolls up his sleeves and gets involved. That is perfect punk to me.

Musically Neville Staple delivered a wonderful and joyful set of reggae, ska and Specials songs. The mass singalong in the big booming ballroom showed what a vibrant community sprang up with punk and its exciting offspring, post-punk.

And post-punk received another injection of power and passion with hardcore from the US, and tonight Sick of it All reminded me of how exciting hardcore was when I first heard it in suburban Dublin.

Elsewhere, David Schall delivered a really evocative about growing up punk and going to see bands like Theatre of Hate. It says something about punk that memories of gigs almost 40 years ago now inspire people to get up, do something, make art, and have fun.

And that is what punk is all about.

wildhearted outsider

Rebellion 2015 – Day 1 a marathon, not a sprint

rebellion 2015 day 1

Andy Higgins acoustic set
Andy Higgins acoustic set

Time is mystifying, I try and live in the moment and have crystal clear memories of the finish of rebellion festival last year. The empty winter gardens strewn with litter where people filled that space over the previous four days. I vowed straight away to return, picked out a plastic glass and started saving for the next fest. Here we are 12 months later and I have returned. I wasnt expecting sterling to be so low against Euro as i went to change currencies, so that means less purchases this time round but first world problems and all that.

Unfortunately there were no flights directly to Blackpool from Dublin so my journey starts early with a trip to Manchester, gives me time to do my homework and I had a chance to make plans for the following 4 days of punk rock. Like an excited child waiting for Santa Claus I could barely sleep, I twisted and turned in my sleep and thought of festivals gone by and anticipated this one. Rebellion is my world cup for punk, the best bands don’t always get on the bill but the event is some celebration of punk rock.

Todays initiation is the masked power of Evil Blizzard. It commences for me on Thursday afternoon at 4.15. The mobility wheelchairs are in full flow on Backpools prom down the road and bingo callers are screaming at the top of their voice by the sea but inside the WInter Gardens, home to Ballroom Dancing and the Darts Word Championship there is a counter culture screaming to be counted. Evil Blizzard make some noise. It almost peels the skin off your face, maybe thats why the band wear masks. It is menacing, powerful and completely bizarre for Thursday afternoon at 4pm. Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man have a speed to their songs that match any US hardcore band.

The real beauty of rebellion is finding new acts, new artists and people documenting our movement that were unknown to me previously. Joe England is one such person. Editor of push magazine and West Ham Utd fan, his story is one worth hearing and he share some thoughts with us on the literary stage.

A quick trip into the arena gives me a sight I’ve never seen before a Japanese oi band. Powerful sing along street punk from anger flares

System Of Hate are a punk band from Barnsley, with the enthusiasm of Dublin’s Paranoid Visions they play fast basic punk tunes and want everyone to hear them.

Sick Of It All were never really on my radar, I always found the agression as something i didn’t need to hear when listening to music. Aggression if aimed towards righting an injustice is alright but when it’s trying to display just how hard people are I can leave it. However there’s no denying their power and my real surprise was that 1.000 people were ready to mosh along just after 6 in the evening.

Any aggression in Andy Higgins set is aimed at pointing out injustice and Andy has ben doing his for many years. He is the person behind Just Say No To Government Music and has a new fanzine out for Rebellion. As a Blackpool FC fan he is always railing for the underdog and his acoustic set is a collection of covers tailored to discuss the plight of the Seasiders and the tragic. Take of how one person can profit from running a football club with seemingly no real repercussions.

TV Smith is similar, he is part of the furniture here at Rebellion and is always ready to talk, to play and share that enthusiasm. TV has been playing since the Adverts in 77 and prior to that but he still displays that youthful abandonment nearly 40 decades later

Neville Staple was also playing 4 decades ago as part of the Specials, it’s not his first time here and he seems to have gotten over the fear from the stage of his daughter being surrounded by a gang of punks at the front of the crowd. We danced and sang and smiled as we remembered those old classic ska songs

AntiFlag upped the tempo with some political charged hardcore. We sang and screamed at the top of our voices. The world needs peace but that plea is being ignored. Anti Flag are doing their best with that rallying cry, a fitting end to an eclectic day. Remember this is a marathon so we have to pace ourselves over the 4 days and with that in mind I had to give the Misfits a wide berth and troop back to bed

niallhope

TV Smith – Acoustic Sessions Volume 1

TV SMith Acoustic Session Vol 1
TV Smith

Acoustic Sessions Vol 1 cover
Acoustic Sessions Vol 1 cover

And so we have a new TV Smith record, well it slipped through the cracks last year and is new for me. Self released in true DIY Punk rock fashion. When history books are written about UK punk we hear many tales of that first wave of bands like the Clash, Sex Pistols and the Damned. The Adverts are quite often criminally ignored or maybe given some space as a footnote. Their first album, Crossing the red sea with the adverts, is one of the classic albums. It was released in 1978 and featured their hit single whcih was released the previous year, Gary Gilmores Eyes. That debut featured 11 songs all reflections of a Britain not quite burning yet but about to go up in flames.

Like many others they went a bit downhill dealing with the difficult second album. And so Cast of Thousands didn’t quite have the energy and exhuberance of their first offering and the adverts dwindled out. But TV Smith kept going, and kept going and is still travelling on the road to change. He then went to have TV Smiths Explorers and moved on to Cheap before deciding that the best way to travel on this road is as a solo artist. Along the way he picks up passengers and has worked with many artists. Every now and then he joins with Barcelonas Bored Teenagers and they play that first classic album. 36 years later and those songs are still fresh.

He is best known now for his solo gigs. One man and his acoustic guitar. They are celebrations of his life, please for people to take control of their own destiny and reflections on todays society. They are a joy to behold. It has been 3 years sonce his last new recorded solo output but it hasn’t stopped TV writing and including these songs in his set.

The acoustic sessions is TV and his guitar in a studio doing acoustic version of two dozen songs he has recorded over a 30 year period from 1977. From No Time To Be 21 which was on that Crossing the red sea album right through to Not In My Name which asks “Why do i have to show My ID?” before proclaiming “Never Again, Not in My Name”. Not IN My Name was on Misinforation Overload, released in 2006 on Boss Tuneage.

The title would suggest there may be an acoustic session volume 2 which I really hope is gonna happen. The sound neatly captures that live gig feel, the raw acoustic guitar as tv sings with feeling, these are raw stripped down version of punk classics which have certainly stood any time test and show how TV Smith should be a chapter in any punk rock story and the footnotes can be for those who disappeared after their five minutes of fame.

niallhope

T.V.Smith

Blackpool Day 4

Altered Images had a really enjoyable and buoyant brand of pop music when they emerged from Scotland. They cancelled a scheduled appearance in Dublin at some ball or other in Trinity at the height of their appeal. Thankfully for us pop fans Teardrop Explodes who played in McGonagles that week were persuaded to stay a few extra days to entertain the students. This may be a gig attended by Courtney Love.

At my first expedition to a music festival in England I stopped to do some record shopping. I bought the Altered Images 12″ which came with a free transfer. I had dearly loved their debut single Dead Pop Stars and Happy Birthday was no disappointment even as it strayed deliberately deeper into pop territory
.
And tonight there was Claire Gogan every bit as expressive and evanescent as she appeared in videos all those years ago. Rather than playing at being girlie and playful she revelled in the role. There was no pretence about reality though, she reminded us that we were all adults now; that she didn’t get out that much anymore; and seemed absolutely delighted to be playing songs she enjoyed to people who enjoyed hearing them.

Her personal narrative punctuated her set and made it all the more enjoyable and poignant. She described the huge inspiration she got from Siouxsie Sioux. And how she wanted to be Siousxie until she found her own voice. Songs like See Those Eyes, and Happy Birthday were performed with aplomb. She described how rehearsing Dead Pop Stars at home made her family worried. She was fully of buoyant good humour telling us how she asked her husband if he wanted to journey to Blackpool with her. He declined in preference to watching Andy Murray on TV. Despite it being their wedding anniversary she travelled solo. She good humouredly quipped that she should have guessed this outcome considering the first song they wrote together was ‘Don’t Talk to me About Love’. Covers of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and a little bit of soul performed by her all-girl band aided and abetted by a little technology made this a show impossible not to enjoy.

All this on a stage recently graced by the menace of the Outcasts. The Belfast stalwarts were intense as usual. Frontman Greg Cowan’s dry humour made for a really enjoyable show.

Neville Staple also punctuated his gig with references to his family, in his case with frequent mentions of his daughter. It was her first punk gig he told us, and later joked to her that now she could see why her dad still performed music. The Specials’ man received rapturous reception for his storming set of songs drawing from the nurturing wellspring of reggae and, in particular, ska that enriched punk. One standout was ‘Doesn’t Make it Alright’ a living reminder of an era when songs attacking racism graced the pop charts.

This sentiment and moment in time was loudly and passionately evoked by Ireland’s Own Stiff Little Fingers who also recorded a version of the song. Tonight they were loud and proud in the depths of the …with a couple of thousand fans joining in with their passionate punk anthems. It is amazing that Ireland provided one of the sustained successful careers stemming from the punk era.

The Blackpool-Everton friendly was a perfect bonus by the seaside. It was completely enjoyable getting to see some of the players who will grace the Premiership and Championship next year. Dedication and coordination, and despite the stereotype many of them seem down-to-earth diligent professionals. The only downside was missing the always dependable incendiary Goldblade. In a way Goldblade, TV Smith and Los Fastidios embody the essence of the Rebellion Festival for me. You know can depend on them; yet they always surpass expectations. They never let you down, yet every time I see them I feel more and more privileged and inspired.

TV Smith was inspired indeed. He played a fantastic set of recent songs to a packed Almost Acoustic stage. The reason people pay so much attention even to his unknown songs is that he delivers them with the enthusiasm, passion, devotion and obvious care for a better, more conscious world. The veins bulging on his neck when he sings appear to course with hope.

Punk nostalgia always seemed ridiculous to me. Even the success of Green Day seemed like a cartoon copy of something that was important to me because it was original. Going to the Vans Festival in the States and following the success of Green Day made me check myself though. It was better that these bands were inspired by the Clash and the Pistols than Van Halen and Cinderella. Now I admire the sense of community and the pleasure of knowing people enjoy playing the songs they wrote or performed years ago. They are still alive and still apparently enjoying it. It is a pleasure to witness.

I also like that punk spawned so many little enterprises. In my mind even one of these bands is an enterprise. Enterprises can be run for profit, for fun or even to make a point. Some of these bands/enterprises combine this pursuit in different ways. Yet they are all still doing it and meeting people. Making connections. And that is inspiring.

The final image of the Rebellion Festival was the queue of punks in the sweet shop this morning. They were all politely waiting for their Blackpool rock. A special Rebellion Festival rock has even being offered. For some of them future Rebellions may be toothless yet sweet!

 

The Wild Hearted Outsider