Monday, October 1, 2012

TV Smith's Explorers: Tomahawk Cruise (1980)

Clive Product: Do you see yourself following in that "folk" tradition of early Dylan or Billy Bragg?”

TV Smith: “I suppose. That tradition and spirit of using songs to protest has been around a lot longer than Dylan or Bragg though - I think we're all following a tradition that's been around in music forever.”

Following the Adverts (more HERE) dissolution in 1979, TV Smith (more HERE), remained unbowed. He continue the slower, more electronic feel of the Advert's second album, Cast of Thousands but his burning anger remained undiminished. Some songs from this more experimental era, such as "Tomahawk Cruise", positively explode with righteous indignation.

"Tomahawk Cruise" still oozes all the piss, vinegar and bile of punk just with less speed and distortion. I mean, how many many songs are written from the perspective of a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile (even back in the eighties when such nuclear angst was ubiquitous)? The song's lyrics, like most of TV's narratives, force you lean in to catch each word and savour their devastation:
Tomahawk Cruise

I woke up this morning, felt completely at ease
Put on my clothes and had something to eat
No desire to act, no desire to move
Unless I get a reason from you

My name is Tomahawk Cruise

We wear our problems, we wear our fate
But we have to eat what we put on the plate
Some people wallow in hate, some wallow in fear
Neither two are recommended around here

If you so wish I could get nasty
Create all kinds of disasters
I know things run away with you
But at the cusp, you have to choose
Between living and Tomahawk Cruise

Now in my heart something starts
Down in my heart something starts…

I get your message, I understand
Break down the barriers as fast as you can
I dream unnatural power, unnatural grace
Bricks and wreckage all over the place

I change my clothes for a uniform
Throw caution to the wind and walk into the storm
At the cusp, you choose
Between living and Tomahawk Cruise

I look at myself - what is this body?
A few limbs, stock responses
A heart turned to steel
I just love the attention
I’m in the news!

You choose,
Between living and Tomahawk Cruise

TV Smith

This is no paint-by-numbers protest song musically either, listen how Colin Stoner's bass carries the song, while Mel Wesson's keyboards add a mechanical menace. It's a gross injustice that the failure of the Explorer's would send Smith to The Wilderness for years to come. Fortunately, between Ojit Records expanded re-issue earlier in the decade and Easy Action Records' new even-more expanded (2 CD's!) version, we may may now finally see the wrong of TV's banishment righted.

MRML Readers give us your take on TV's Explorers and tell us if you want to hear more!

Support the man!


Boss Tuenage 

Easy Action




  1. TV!
    We got lots of TV rarities, if you've got something to say about the man and his music!

  2. That song is great (dare i say "the bomb"?). I confess to not knowing much about TV's later work. Really anything after Crossing the Red Sea... But now I'm gonna dive right in.

    1. Well you're going to be bomb-arded with TVs' later work!
      The Explorers album (newly re-issued) is a great place to start but oh the places we'll go...

  3. This is where I came in.

    Jeffen, I want to thank you once again for opening my ears to the pure awesomeness that is TV Smith.

    My bank account, on the other hand, still curses your name.


    1. Proud as hell to have done so! Enjoy the series!

  4. My personal favourite single by TV, either solo or with The Adverts. Love it.

    1. I first heard it on that Chiswick double CD comp from the 90's and was just blown away.

  5. Excellent, the last time someone tried to upload that they did it on the wrong speed, an album that is missing from adverts collection is the explorers last words

    1. Yeah, anyone who likes The Adverts needs to be pointed to TV's solo work.

  6. Im grabbing everything. Very interesting. Still not sure aboot the greatness of the Adverts though. :)

    1. Well glad you're digging the TV solo stuff - more to come!

  7. I know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that's Superman by the Kinks.

    1. Musician (and a big-time fan of both TV and The Kinks) CallPastorJerkface agrees with you.

  8. Hey Jeffen

    Is there a T.V. Smith expert out there?I thought Tim Cross was gone by the time Tomahawk Cruise was recorded.I am looking at the Pete Frame 'The Averts - T.V. Smith's Explorers'Family Tree that is included with OZit version of 'The Last of the Great Explorers'.I am listening to the album presently.Tim Cross played on the initial Explorers demos and at the initial gig(The Marquee March 13 1980).It seems Mel Wesson played keyboards on the 'Tomahawk Cruise/See Europe' (released 21/11/1980).Confirmation needed.

    Tim Cross RIP.


    1. I think what you've cited is plenty proof enough - experts be damned!
      I'm just so used to Cross' keyboards on TV Smith albums that I must've written that without checking the album.

  9. Hi Jeffen
    This was so good they released it twice - on Big Beat and Chiswick. Still didn't become the smash hit it should have been.
    Love all of Mr Smiths work.
    Any chance of The Cheap Peel Session making an appearance in the near future?

    Doug - You are spot on. I think Dave Thompson would qualify as the T.V Smith expert having written the TV Times fanzine and a book (Your Ticket Out of Here - highly recommended) on the great man.
    According to that book Mel Wesson joined in March 1980 as Tim Cross had left to join Mike Oldfields band.
    Thanks again and keep them coming - Ivan

    1. It is a shame that this didn't hit it big it's a stunning track.
      The Cheap Peel Sessions will be up this week!
      Thanks for the further update on Tim C - change made!


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