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The Wonders Don't Care

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Album Review

The Adverts are generally regarded as second-stringers in the first wave of British punk, but while their work is rarely mentioned in the same breath as the Damned, the Clash, or the Buzzcocks, their best music has stood the test of time as well as any of their contemporaries. The group's first album, Crossing the Red Sea With the Adverts, and the classic single "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" are into-the-wind punk at its best, with energy to burn, sharp (if skeletal) tunes, and unusually thoughtful lyrics from frontman T.V. Smith. While the group's later work was less exciting, it also showed the Adverts were one of the first punk bands to acknowledge the limitations of the form and struggled to move past them, and if their ambition exceeded their reach, they still managed to write some good songs along the way. The Wonders Don't Care collects 17 songs the Adverts recorded for BBC Radio sessions between 1977 and 1979, and Smith's contention in the liner notes that the set allows listeners to "hear a band get born, grow up, get old and die, all in less than an hour" sums things up quite well, thank you. The first half of the album captures the band in their youthful and snarling period, and if bassist Gaye Advert and guitarist Howard Pickup don't display much virtuosity, they already learned what not to do, and Smith is in superb form; these sessions are a bit less polished than their records, but they're well-recorded and capture their energy with commendable accuracy. The later selections find the band slowing their tempos, writing more complex melodies, and (gulp) even adding a keyboard, but while the Adverts slipped as they attempted to reinvent themselves, Smith remained a strong singer and an intelligent, perceptive lyricist with plenty worth hearing. Crossing the Red Sea is easily the best Adverts album, but The Wonders Don't Care captures their sudden rise and brave fall as well as any set you can buy.

Biography

Formed: 1976

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s

With their raw, enthusiastic immaturity, the Adverts were a bright, though short-lived, light of the punk era, distinguished by the fact that their bassist, Gaye Advert, was one of the first female stars of punk rock. After they (barely) mastered one chord, the Adverts began playing at London's Roxy Club in 1976, where they quickly came to the attention of the Damned's guitarist Brian James. James offered the band an opening spot on the Damned's tour and directed them toward Stiff Records. Stiff...
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The Wonders Don't Care, The Adverts
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