The Adverts' back catalog has never been afraid of anthologies of one kind of another, whether it's another appearance for "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" on a punk's greatest hits-type collection, or a full fledged "best of the band" compilation. If the appearance of another sampler fails to fill you with anticipation, however, think again. Anthology might well be the best Adverts album you'll ever find -- bar none. There are no surprises within the track listing, nor are there any omissions. Between 1977 and their split in 1979, the Adverts recorded 26 songs, spread across seven singles and two albums, and all of them are here. Where things get interesting is in compiler (and lead vocalist) TV Smith's decision to draw the 26 from across the group's entire vocabulary.
Several of the singles appeared in decidedly different versions on LP -- Smith selects whichever he thinks was most representative. Other familiar takes are replaced by BBC session versions: The Adverts made four appearances on John Peel's nightly show, and the highlights here, all dating from their 1978-1979 sessions, are genuinely among the best things the band recorded. Finally, anybody nursing happy memories of the Adverts' live sound will be thrilled by the inclusion of a bonus disc repeating a dozen songs from a show in early 1977. (Originally released as Live at the Roxy, the fully remastered disc has been accurately retitled NOT Live at the Roxy -- it actually dates from a show somewhere else entirely). Thrilling, too, is the accompanying booklet, featuring Smith's own thoughts on each of the songs, together with a clutch of previously unpublished photos by Ray Stevenson, a full discography, and line-up info. In other words, it's precisely the kind of all-encompassing document that this most precious of first-wave punk bands has been crying out for all along. Best-of albums simply don't get better than this.