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It’s April 1977, and Stiff is on the crest of the punk wave, releasing one of the most perfect early singles of the genre, which came from a band not from the East End but from the West Country…  “Jake came down to the Roxy and saw us play early in 1977 when the major labels were still trying to pretend punk didn't exist,” The Adverts’ TV Smith remembers.  “He invited us into the Stiff office to have a look at a contract a week later.  We sat in the window of the office, scanned it through and signed it.  We’d only been playing for a few weeks and had only played a handful of gigs…  When the hippest, most interesting independent label in the UK comes and offers you a record deal, you don't hang around thinking, ‘mmm, maybe we could do better’.”

“Our biggest connection was with The Damned - the fact we were on the same label meant it made sense for us to go out on tour together and we became good friends.  Every now and then Nick Lowe would travel to one of the gigs in the van with us.  Also, Stiff appointed Larry Wallis from the Pink Fairies as our producer and we became quite close with him, he was a very nice guy.  You did feel like you were part of a small, select club because there were so few people on the label - they were always talking about Elvis in the office, for example, and saying how huge he was going to be.”

“Shortly after we signed to Stiff we got ourselves a manager, Michael Dempsey, who looked on the situation slightly differently than us.  He felt that on Stiff we would always be the second-in-line punk band after The Damned, and were never going to get the same attention from the label that they were getting.  In fact, although One Chord Wonders (BUY 13) was a cult success and very well received, it didn’t actually sell many copies.  Michael wanted us to sign to a label that would concentrate on us as their only punk band, and also a label that had a US connection - he really felt that the future for The Adverts lay in America.  That half worked, and half failed - as soon as we signed to Anchor we got a (number 18) hit record in the UK with Gary Gilmore's Eyes, but immediately afterwards Anchor’s US parent company ABC, who didn’t understand punk at all, withdrew their support and shut the label down.”

“I wouldn't go back and do anything again… God, once was enough!  But I still think signing with Stiff was a good decision.  They were a very special label, mavericks in an industry that was already becoming bland and corporate.  It was great to be part of the Stiff family for a short while. We could do with a label like Stiff today.”




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