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The Sound - In The Hothouse review (All Music Guide)

date: Jul 1, 2002


THE SOUND - In The Hothouse 

The Sound came across as being very desperate on record. Never the loudest or the most aggressive band on the planet, much of their studio work remains surprisingly capable of making you feel as if you've been grabbed by your collar, thrown against a wall, and forced to confront every feeling you have attempted to quell. In the London Marquee performances presented on In the Hothouse, that desperation and intensity is even more palpable. The disc culls from gigs that took place on two late-August nights in 1985, and as a result, it's heavy on Heads and Hearts material, which was released the same year. The band was so prone to rushes of adrenaline when on-stage that they had to consciously slow down to avoid throwing a rod. 

Admittedly, this self-consciousness takes the edge off some of the performances here. "Heartland" suffers the most, sounding somewhat dreary and too tamed when compared to its non-live counterpart found on Jeopardy. Still, In the Hothouse documents the band in fine form, running through then-new material and the brightest spots of their back catalog with tightness, spirit, and an unparalleled level of conviction. For the most part, the band stays true to the original arrangements. The most significant difference is in the mix; Max Mayers' keyboards have a presence not heard on the band's studio albums (usually for the better), and Michael Dudley's drums have added oomph. Hearing Adrian Borland lug his abused throat through emotionally draining songs like "Missiles" and "Burning Part of Me" makes one want to jump back into time to catch what must have been one whale of a performance to witness. That's the biggest problem with live records -- you're only getting half the picture. Er, none of it, technically. 

[When Renascent reissued the album with vibrant sound in 1997, they added two songs from a 1994 Rotterdam performance. They add little to what was there to begin with.] 

Andy Kellman, All Music Guide

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