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Generation Y

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Album Review

Of all the Class of London Punk 1976 who've carried on making records, TV Smith has probably had the most dignified career. While the others sold out, put out subpar reunion LPs, wore their old look like stage clothes, or otherwise tried to milk their youthful defiance as a perpetual music business cash cow, Smith has never stooped to anything so crass. Instead, he has put out half-a-dozen low-key, simple, mostly acoustic-based pop singer/songwriter LPs that reveal the same wry commentary about human hypocrisy and the same concern for the average man against the corrupt and powerful that he started with. If all he'd done was the two Adverts LPs (and their fabulous Peel Sessions LP), he would have already gone down as one of the all-time catchy and smart writers of that fertile period. But the enlightened who have snatched up his records since have been given multiple bones to chew on, lyrics that are the authentic heir to such lasting social questions as "New Church," "Television's Over," and "The Adverts." Bad Religion would be glad to write some of the lyrics found on Generation Y: "They lead you out onto the catwalk like a dog upon a leash/They fix your feet upon the party line but there are places it won't reach," Smith sings of media and peer social-brainwashing ("What If"). But he's no whining folkie; Smith is a social-protest pop singer, as the sumptuous piano of the standout "Momentous Changes" and the unobtrusive drumming throughout demonstrate. After two decades, he knows how to set up the economical verses and choruses, and there's plenty here to like. Now if only he could get a U.S. deal.


Born: Devon, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

With TV Smith's Explorers having imploded in late 1981 and the success of the Adverts receding further into the past, TV Smith launched his solo career in early 1982, cutting a single, "Burning Rain," with Rondelet labelmates the Nervous Germans. Label politics conspired against the release actually taking place, but the new year saw Smith convene fresh sessions with guitarist Tim Renwick and ex-Adverts keyboard player Tim Cross. Channel Five, Smith's first solo album, duly appeared in spring 1983...
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Generation Y, TV Smith
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