Articles / Reviews

The Sound - An introduction by Brian Guthrie (UNIT 13-6-1984)

date: Jun 13, 1984


 

THE SOUND 

'Look at it this way; the party started without the SOUND, U.2, the THE TEARDROP EXPLODES and ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN were all there early; their tense soundtracks were already on the turntable. courted and championed. THE SOUND arrived late, gatecrashed the bash. made off with the women and the cutlery; they may yet make off with all the honours too " (Melody Maker)
 

Sadly for THE SOUND they have been made look like mere tatty pickpockets as that over optimistic quote has gone on to prove, whiIe the others mentioned along with the likes of SIMPLE MINDS and BIG COUNTRY to become tres vogue. the SOUND have been deserted - left to become a sleeping giant. Basically what happened was that you lot out there failed to secumb to their obvious charm and no amount of accolade seemed to convince you otherwise - in fact these accolades were in danger of becoming garlands. THE SOUND were not, as it happens, all that late for the party beginning life in London around the same lime as their more fashionable contemporaries were building for themselves the new Liverpool scene and Manchester movement. 

At one point they were THE OUTSIDERS, punk also rans spawned Adrian Borland and Graham Green who gave birth to THE SOUND in late "79 with firstly drummer Mike Dudley and later keyboard player Bi Marshall joining them. Being out of the immediate spotlight they were allowed to develop unhindered and predictably enough it was John Peel who first championed their cause- Like the BUNNYMEN they signed to Korova - in fact they often toured together - most audiences being totally thrown by THE SOUND'S bleak and stark but equally intense live show - almost claustrophobic in places there was little if any light getting In. Their debut album "JEOPARDY", littered with classics like 'Heartland', 'Heyday' and 'Missiles' reflecting the band's amazingly broad scope brought in the first of those never ending rave reviews I mentioned' earlier, from a surprisingly diverse selection of journalists.

Robin Denselow in The Guardian declared it "the debut British album of the autumn" Richard Williams in The Times declared them "the most thoughtful of the recent gang of British doomsday rockers' Sectors of the music press went completely over the top while almost everyone singled out 'Missiles' THE SOUND'S perfect anthem to a revived CND movement they all manned the barricades in defense of the band, "SOUNDS" Dave McCulloch stated at the end of a Five star album review "This absence of style, their utter precocity, their visual incongruity (Borland looks like a ten year old Benny Hill !?!) all make THE SOUND a strangely strange band. But it doesn't stop it being an inconspicuous but real missing-link between the modernist JAM and the vibrantly post mod JOY DIVISlON " - and it was more of the same for the second album -FROM THE LIONS MOUTH" another big step forward for the band and the first album to feature the by now permanent keyboard man Colvin Max Mayers who replaced Bi. 

Then as if trying to protect their own hipness factor the Press backlash began around the release of "ALL FALL DOWN" the prophetic title for the bands third vinyl outing. Having seen their faith in the band go unrewarded the media denizens recoiled into their shells dishing out brickbats as their only reaction to their failure to break the band - not wanting to be seen as being backers of a lost cause. The result for the SOUND, whose sales had reached an all time low was the order of the heave-ho from W.E.A./Korova. Now more than eighteen months later the phoenix has risen like some impend ratable sleeping beauty they have at last been re-awoken from their .slumbers - "SHOCK 0F DAYLIGHT" their new mini album proves THE SOUND are back - finely honed stripped off excess weight and raring to go. THE SOUND are bounding, but not lumbering, muscle men compared to the puny 'Gilbert O'Sullivans' with synths and funny haircuts' (to steal an apt quote from PHYCHEDELIC FURS Richard Butler) that flock in the recent charts - the truth of it all creeps up and smacks you in the face. Their music is like a fountain, rising hard then falling gentle through the air surrounding all in its vicinity in a fine mist of passion und understated power. Unlike several of his contemporaries Borland doesn't go overboard with born again religious histrionics - in fact he questions the whole necessity for 'belief'. If U.2's Bono wants to claim your spiritual soul, Borland simply wants to rattle your skeleton and maybe a few closets as well as he exposes the fraud of it all. 

He is a mirror to the knock backs of life - like when you say to a girl - 'l love you' and she replies 'l'd love too.......' Borland is in that grey territory exploring the possibilities where the '….but' should be. Throughout his songs "Longest Days", "Golden Soldiers", "Winter", "Dreams then Plans", he wrestles with his emotions, their boundaries are dear and concise, their structures in bold black and white - if they were film they would be standard small screen fare - at least to begin with - as more often than not they erupt into a cinerama of colour and passion smashing their own constraints, they are TV drama and wide screen epic rolled into one, at moments serene and graceful, at others strident and forceful and occasion a subtle amalgam of both. 

Borland's guitaring is fraught with jarring, jagged nervous tension - the blows being tempered by Max Mayers crying chords on synth or keyboard that underpin and add an air of restraint. The mood established, they then burst from their shackles with explosive blossoms of musical colours, Borland's voice, like a beacon in a storm, has also become stronger and more defined. "SHOCK OF DAYLIGHT" sees THE SOUND rediscover their souls, reviving a flagging heart with hope - its six songs diverging moods and style into a complete being. Their music can haunt and uplift, THE SOUND work these magical transitions with amazing ease but with an underlying caution that prevents them from going right off the rails. It is about time they got the credit for their influence on less talented plagiarists - it would be a mistake and a tragedy to ignore THE SOUND this time around. 

Brian Guthrie (UNIT 13-6-1984) 



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