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The Sound - BBC Recordings review (All Music Guide 2004)

date: Oct 5, 2004


THE SOUND - BBC Recordings 

Renascent's dutiful remastering of the Sound's catalog pre-Thunder Up, along with persistent support from a handful of loud journalists and word of mouth, means that the band probably has a fan base of people younger than 1980's Jeopardy that exceeds the number of followers it had when it was active. That notion might've helped push a release like this along, one that compiles the Sound's sessions for the BBC -- both studio and live -- onto a two-disc set. 

The first disc contains an October 1980 session for Mike Read's program (broadcast a couple weeks before Jeopardy's release) and a November 1981 session for John Peel (broadcast a couple weeks after From the Lion's Mouth's release). The first session is thrilling to hear two decades after the fact and must've been a revelation in 1980, especially since breakneck opener "Heartland" jolts through the ears with such an anxious, barely controlled power. The other three songs in the session -- "Unwritten Law," "Jeopardy," "I Can't Escape Myself" -- are more pensive in tempo and demeanor but occasionally boil over with more intensity than their album-version counterparts. The Peel session yields three From the Lion's Mouth tracks that are relatively (naturally) raw and nervous compared to the versions produced by Hugh Jones. 

Disc two is double the length of disc one, containing just over an hour split between sets from 1981 and 1985. The earlier set echoes the live wire spirit of the first disc, but the one from 1985 -- as noted by the liner notes penned by drummer Mike Dudley -- casts the band in a darker light, due in large part to Adrian Borland's apparent troubled state of mind. It does nothing to diminish the songs -- in fact, during some passages, it enhances them. As heard on 1986's In the Hothouse, the band rarely deviates from the arrangements of the album versions, and Max Mayers' keyboard work is higher in the mix. The only real negative point, as with the other Sound reissues on Renascent, is the packaging. The stock of the sleeve is just a little bit thicker than loose-leaf notebook paper, making the thing difficult to transport around; and unless your hands have just been washed, you're bound to soil the sleeve. Watch those corners, too. 

2004 - Andy Kellman, All Music Guide -

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