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 on the newly formed Expulsion label; months later, however, the company went under and, though Smith spent the next two years writing furiously and gigging occasionally, when he next publicly surfaced, it was aboard a new band, Cheap. That project was still going strong when Smith returned to solo work in mid-1989, performing a short acoustic set at an Attila the Stockbroker gig in north London. He followed through by cutting a similarly unplugged version of the Cheap favorite "Newshound" for the B-side of the band's 12" "Third Term" in 1990. Then, when Cheap broke up in 1991, Smith set out solo in earnest.
Early shows alongside Tom Robinson and a new album, March of the Giants, were well received, with 1995's The Immortal Rich further upping his profile. But it was Smith's solo performance at the following year's Holidays in the Sun punk festival, performing the Adverts' Crossing the Red Sea debut album on acoustic guitar, that established him among the country's most electrifying live performers. (His full set was captured on the One Chord Wonder DVD).
Regular gigs with German superstars Die Toten Hosen (with whom he first worked on their Learning English album in 1991) saw 1998's Generation Y released on the punk band's own JKP label. Die Toten Hosen would also act as his backing band on 2001's Useless: The Very Best of TV Smith, re-recording a flawless collection of (largely) old songs. Smith also recorded with Finland's Punk Lurex OK and Spain's Suzi & los Quattros, while he co-wrote a dozen songs on Die Toten Hosen's 1999 album Crash Landing.
In the early 21st century, Smith was performing well over 100 shows a year around Europe and the U.S., a routine that is brilliantly documented in his 2006 book Getting There: The Tour Diaries. The evolution of both his songwriting and his performance, meanwhile, can be traced across 2003's Not a Bad Day and 2006's Misinformation Overload, electrifying sets that defy the somewhat shocking realization that the Adverts are now more than 30 years old. ~ Dave Thompson