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The Sound - Live at the London ICA review (Melody Maker 10-1-1981)

date: Jan 10, 1981

THE SOUND ICA, London THE SOUND RALLY THE HEART! Look at it this way, the party started without The Sound. U2, the Teardrop Explodes and Echo & The Bunnymen were all there early; their tense soundtracks were already on the turntable, courted and championed, The Sound arrived late, gate crashed the bash, made off with the women and the cutlery; they may yet make off with all the honours too.

Released last November, the Sound's debut album, "Jeopardy" was a stark essay in contemporary compelling anxiety; compelling, worrying, impatient, drenched in menace. The production jettisoned every conventional effect that might have deflected the listener's attention from the emotional centre of its songs; the Sound, on record were like a drumroll; a moment of tension anticipating an act of violence. They also suggested themselves as potentially the best exponents of bare knuckle rock dynamics since the Attractions wrestled Elvis Costello's repertoire to the floor on "This Year's Model" (the Sound's "Heartland" has the same kind of venomous adrenalin rush as say, "Lipstick Vogue"). Live at the ICA, they were even more potent: less concerned, perhaps, with colour and atmospherics than on the album, more determined, probably, to force a direct emotional collision between their music and their audience. It was entirely appropriate that "Brute Force" was included in the opening salvo; even more indicative of the group's single-mindedness that they should have opened with Unwritten Law", one of Adrian Borland's most intense songs. 'We draw the blood and the law draws the line," Borland intoned with grave passion, his guitar arching above the blustery momentum of the rhythm section. "I Can't Escape Myself", on record a sombre conceit, assumed a more persuasive force here, the verses delivered with taut control the cut, slash and run of Borland's guitar prefacing the song's macabre punch line with withering force. The Sound have elsewhere been described as morbid, preoccupied with disaster, too damned serious. This kind of criticism rather overlooks the vividly uplifting, defiant ardour they bring to songs Iike "Heartland", with its coruscating morse code guitar signature and glorious chorus, "Heyday" and the appropriately titled "Resistance", a valiant rallying call. The Sound might not sprinkle your evening with hilarious one-liners, but they're hardly humourless (and, anyway, Adrian Borland would probably rather be Iggy Pop than Nick Lowe) The most remarked upon track from their album was the epic "Missiles" and despite the excellence of the material that surrounds it, it's difficult not to zero in on its performance as the showcase of the Sound's set, Bi Marshall's keyboards become a scalding blur behind Borland's scything epileptic guitar outbursts and the shuddering clout of Michael Dudley's percussion and the knee bending thump of Graham Green's bass lines. Borland's extended guitar excursion (a rare event) was a warped nightmare, itself bringing into vision holocaust images. With a clutch of recent songs ("Fire", "Possession", "Skeletons") as impressive as anything they' ve unleashed this far, the Sound are confirmed as genuine heirs to the throttle.

ALLAN JONES (Melody Maker 10-1-1981)



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