This article is written by Johnny Waller and was published in Sounds on 2nd July, 1983.
TV SMITH 'Channel Five' (Expulsion Exit 5)
RIGHT IN the middle of the very first track, 'A Token Of My Love', Smith suddenly exclaims "surprise surprise" — and that could well be most people's reaction to this unexpected, unannounced gift of beauty and vitality.
This most talented and perceptive songSmith has at last made the transition from literary punk to a genuine singer- songwriter of worth.
In my own (admittedly partisan) judgement, TV now ranks up alongside Paul Weller and the Difford/Tilbrook partnership, as many of the compositions on 'Channel Five' prove with an effortless panache and ease.
As a wordSmith, he continues to excel in story-telling whilst still weaving a web of linguistic sophistication. He's at his caustic best when using everyday phrases in a stunningly ambiguous manner, as in the anti-chemical warfare ballad 'Burning Rain' where he dismissively intones "the weathermen got it wrong again".
But the pen and voice of TV Smith are not new weapons and should need no emphasis again — no, the truly sparkling attraction of 'Channel Five' is the rich splendour of its melodies and arrangements.
Now surprisingly teamed up with a pair of old musoes in Tim Cross (last seen twiddling keyboards for the symphonic entourage of Mike Oldfield) and ex-Sutherland Brothers And Quiver guitarist Tim Renwick, Smith has nevertheless contrived to create a stirring, almost modernistic disco sound.
If it isn't exactly a fiercely disco noir creation to rival New Order, it's still a sprightly electronic mood soundtrack that reminds slightly of recent Altered Images releases.
So songSmith blends together that amazing voice with a clutch of sparkling, emotional songs sympathetically arranged and comes up with his best album since the Adverts' debut. A few of the compositions here have recaptured that old fire and damnation while adding a new smooth gloss that suits them well.
And talking of suits, make sure you hear The Suit' — a harrowing tale of an individual who becomes possessed by his suit: An update on the 'Gary Gilmore' syndrome. But even that is surpassed by Smith's teasing, taunting sensual vocal on the closing 'The Beautiful Bomb', which is a masterpiece of lyrical and musical understatement.
You may have read a lot about the Smiths recently, but this is the real McCoy! TV Smith is back and 'Channel Five' is here. Tune in now!