Tim Smith was the leader of the punk-era Adverts, who clung on long enough to make two albums in the ’70s. After they expired, Smith formed the Explorers — originally a trio, but expanded to a five-piece (including an ex-Doctors of Madness bassist) by the time of the album. A far cry from the Adverts’ stripped-down guitar drone, The Last Words uses synthesizer and slick musicianship to mold an engaging dance program that benefits from Smith’s strong voice and inventive songwriting. There are touches of Sparks, the Only Ones, new romantics and others; a great record from a gifted performer.
Channel 5 finds Smith going it alone on a tiny indie label, with only ex-Adverts keyboard player Tim Cross, a bassist and a drum machine helping out. The LP reverts to Smith’s earlier no-nonsense, no-frills sound (if not exactly Adverts-styled punk), with his guitar leading the charge. A pleasant little record with strong songs, clever production and Smith’s burgeoning social conscience (“On Your Video,” “War Fever”). Sharp lyrics make the spry “A Token of My Love” the best track on this entertaining (if sobering) record.