Articles / Reviews

The Sound - The Split Of The Sound (Big Takeover 24-6-1988)

date: Jun 24, 1988


Split Up Of THE SOUND 

The Sound went quietly and almost peacefully in contrast. Unlike the Chameleons, their split is not a surprise, It had been hanging over them since they recorded their final LP Thunder Up as a last ditch attempt to get a decent working deal on their own (and their music's) terms. Though there were minor personal conflicts within the group, most of them stemmed from their always being broke and without speakable record company support. It's amazing they were able to keep it going as long as they did. But eventually the events caught up with them. Shame. 

Inspired by the Stooges, Velvets, and Joy Division, The Sound evolved out of two previous bands, the first being 1976-1978 London punk band THE OUTSIDERS (a 45 and 2 LPs on Raw Edge records, the first of which was the first ever Brit punk band to issue an LP on their own label; Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP was the first such 45). Singer/guitarist Adrian Borland and bassist Graham Greene then formed a post-punk duo Second Layer (1 LP on Cherry Red and 2 singles on Torch) before adding two new members and becoming the Sound In '79. Seven albums (Including the double live In The Hothouse) down the road all their records are still imports (except a one time pressing of their 4th studio LP Shock of Daylight with an awful sleeve by ASH, who did as dumb a job of promoting The Sound as they did when they had The Cure), and since they were dropped by Warner Brothers UK after 3 LPs In '82 for their refusal to become more commercial, they haven't made a living off the band to speak of. Mainly they just hung on making records and small bands of fans who'd accidentally stumbled on them one way or another. Hopefully, singer/ guitarist/songwriter Adrian Borland will make good on his stated intention to make some solo recordings, so his admirers will still benefit from his talent. In the meantime. he'll still be producing bands (past credits: The Servents, Dole, and former Zounds' Steve Lake). 

Because their break-up was a longstanding possibility, and because so few here were familiar with them, their departure seems almost routinely sad. Like an old friend losing a long fight with a disease. But after a while it begins to sink in that another very special band, who made some incredibly moving music is gone. Their supreme Heads and Hearts (this writers choice then and now as 1985's best LP, even over the Chameleons 2nd), along with most of 81's spine-blasting From the Lion's Mouth and last year's farewell Thunder Up already stands up as timeless pieces of melancholic emotional eruption. The entire body of their work from Second Layer on, rings with the kind of well expressed resigned frustration ('Winning'), severe self-doubts (I Can't Escape Myself), shock ('Fire'), shaky post-shock reassurances ('Total Recall'), lust ('Kinetic'), adoration ('You've Got a Way'), the agony of despair (the well titled 'Longest Days') and sense of loss (the most beautiful of all, 'Temperature Drop'), that put them in as one of the top five absorbing bands of the decade; that their music drove the lyrical points home like a electric skrewdriver just tripled their force. 

Let's make no mistake: maybe the Sound's departure is a wimper in the scheme of things, but in their death they take with them one of the most formidable body of intelligent, astoundingly communicative and knowingly observant work of any band in history, IGNORED OR OTHERWISE. It is a great injustice, and it's a typical "what a shame" that the economics of their situation curtailed their work before they could produce even more for the ages. That they produced this much first rate material (all great records much less no duds), and that the majority of their fans were musicians, mostly in the new bands popping up in Britain, will insure their memory won't fade like many other fair groups whose career was so much shorter (Like the Gas or TV21, say). It's a sad day to write all this. The Big Takeover marks the passing of two of the groups (The Sound & The Chameleons) with the biggest ever influence on us at this mag, and on behalf of the spirit of great and lasting music we have tried to recognize in this space in our eight years, we are truly, and greatly saddened by the news that they are no more. 1000 thanks for the music which lives on, good luck in the next phase of your musical endeavours and lives, and goodbye. You are greatly missed. 


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