The Adverts - Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Adverts

Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts (1978)

Bright Records

The Adverts pulled the masterstroke of releasing a debut album that executed on the potential suggested by their early singles. Directly influenced by the immediate first wave, TV Smith assembled a rampaging set of strikingly simple, and strikingly effective songs for Crossing the Red Seas with the Adverts.

In fact, tracks like “Bored Teenagers” and “New Church” were even more simple than the first Sex Pistols, Damned, and Clash tunes, and just as fast, if not faster. Smith seemed determined to whittle songs down into their most Spartan form and then jack them up with powerful strikes and the energy of a young man… and he did just that.

Perhaps in contrast to the Clash and Pistols, the Adverts focused on hyper-personal issues. Jones and Strummer would often use youthful detachment as a way to describe bigger economic issues, and Rotten started at the very top by smacking around the queen herself, but Smith and crew keep their perspective very ground level. “Bored Teenagers” served as a mandate and short explanation of why the band was so jumpy. Meanwhile, “On the Roof” detailed the sort of loneliness and wanting that only young people have. The record was at once youthful and wizened. these guys were young, but they were smart enough to have a perspective that whittled the experience of young Brits down to three, two, or even one chord.

Mention needs to also be given to Gaye Advert on bass. The British punk scene did have some standout female musicians- the Slits, Raincoats, and X-Ray Spex all come to mind. Still, Gaye Advert was notable both for her amazing musicianship – the driving slam of the Adverts owes a huge debt to her rumbling, but sprinting bass- but also for making herself known and respected in the male dominated scene. That’s no easy task now and certainly it wasn’t easy then, either.

After this release, the adverts would evolve to a more post-punk sound. Still, Red Sea perhaps like no other record before it, found a band focusing on the established ideals of punk, fashioning those tools to their sharpest points possible, and striking with sheer force.