Articles / Reviews

Planet Sound - Channel 4 Teletext by Kevin Hewick (25-04-2002)

date: Apr 25, 2002


The following is an article written for Channel 4 tv's "Planet Sound" teletext, their daily updated music news and views pages edited by former "Melody Maker" editor Colin Irwin whose interest in Adrian, based on meeting him in the eighties and an admiration for The Sounds Warner Brothers era LP's, made it possible for this piece to be displayed on April 25th 2002. In its capacity as a Teletext article it had to be split into 60/70 word sections and I had to fit it into 8 pages of onscreen text -so, there was little chance do more than mention certain topics except in the most fleeting manner. I didn't put any personal anecdotes in ( many of which can be found in his entry in "The Book of (Happy) memories") - it was purely a brief factual piece aimed more at those who had little or no understanding of who Adrian and The Sound were, let alone his and their significence as artists. To cram details about the things that Adrian did with Colvin, Michael and Graham AND Carlo, Mark etc. AND his solo career AND, especially AND, the masterpiece that is "Harmony and Destruction" in so little space wasn't easy ...

Kevin Hewick

1 - The breaking news on April 26th 1999 was the fatal shooting of popular TV presenter Jill Dando. No such media attention was given to a 41 year old musician commiting suicide at Wimbledon station that same morning, the tragic final act of a gifted, but troubled talent. Adrian Borland, had succumbed to the mental illness that had dogged the latter years of his life.

2 - What with a book,tribute concerts and national press Borland is getting major acclaim - except its abroad, not in England. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany he is revered as a cult figure on a par with Ian Curtis and Nick Drake. But you'll struggle to find his albums here, and, despite honourable exceptions like Chris Robert's "Uncut" article you'll find few mentions in our press either.

3 - In 1977 Adrians first band The Outsiders made the first ever independently released punk rock LP in the UK. They evolved into The Sound, awesomelive, easily the match of Joy Division, and often compared to Echo and the Bunnymen and early U2 -ironic given that The Sound actually influenced them! But even a spirit as undauntingly enthusiastic as Adrians could only take so much disappointment.

4 - After three classic albums at Warners and further releases on small labels The Sound split up in 1987 but even with Borland and keyboardist Colvin Mayers both gone (Mayers died from AIDS related causes in 1993) their work endures with recent CD re-issues of their essential 80's output. Adrian went on to work with The Citizens and produce 5 breathtaking solo albums through the 90's - selling moderately here but well in Europe.

5 - Adrian also collaborated with Convent singer Carlo van Putten and Chameleon's Mark Burgess on two stupendous cds as White Rose Transmission, did three more in the fun guise of The Honolulu Mountain Daffodils and produced a single with Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra. Concurrent with this consistent level of creativity Adrian was plagued by bouts of depressive illness. Straight from recording the final WRT album in Germany Adrian began work on "Harmony and Destructon."

6 - Borlands final work ranks with Joy Divisions "Closer" or Sylvia Plaths final poetry as a sometimes harrowing potrait of a gifted artist close to personal disintegration. But "Harmony and Destruction" bursts with beautiful moments, melodic and lyrical. "Summer wheels" has a sweet, seductive charm. Any songwriter will recognise the sardonic observations of "Song Damn Song" and "Scrapyard" is a sleazy slice of big city life.

7 - Against expansive guitar backdrops Borlands voice ranges from bloodcurdling Iggy Pop growls to broken whispers. Adrians parents and bassist Patrick Rowles have been heavily involved in constructing the album as near to Adrians intended vision as possible in a process not unlike the making of Jeff Buckleys "My Sweetheart The Drunk". Like Buckley, The Associates Billy MacKenzie and INXS's Michael Hutchence, Adrian has left a moving, inspired final recorded statement.

8 - While dying - by suicide or otherwise - doesn't necessarily make a great album, there is greatness in Adrian Borlands "Harmony and Destruction". Its songs are filled with love for life, dark wit and honest passion. At a time when trite corporate downer rock like Nickelback can score a UK No.1 album, perhaps, one day, posterity may recognise the more profound legacy left by Adrian Borland.


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