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The Sound - Whatever happened to ...? THE SOUND (Record Buyer 01-03-2002)

date: Mar 1, 2002


It's been claimed that The Sound are the greatest undiscovered British band of the 80's - but how do you back up such a statement? With the re-release of six albums from the initial Korova/Warner Bros era, together with their output from the Statik label period plus a collection of rarities the evidence is now available. All releases come with lyrics & informative sleevenotes by persons either in, or close to, the band. The players on Jeopardy were Adrian Borland on vocals and guitar, Graham Bailey (Green) on bass, Michael Dudley drums and Bi Marshall on keyboards. The highlights, dark & impassioned, still sound good today and find the band articulate beyond a lot of their peers.

Reference points if you are new to their work include the Comsat Angels, a band with which they gigged & toured and shared the same bleak perspective. They also shared the same label as the more marketable and image-conscious Echo and the Bunnymen. However that was as far as the sharing 'went'. Borland looked like the product of a safe suburban upbringing, compared with the chic swagger of Ian 'Mouth' McCulloch. Jeopardy was knocked out for a few hundred quid - and there are many overblown and over budget 'opuses' that cannot hold a candle to the overall statement it provided. A lot of credit for the quality of this low-budget effort must go to Nick Robbins. The inclusion of the Live Instinct EP only adds to the attraction. A personnel change with the departure of BI Marshall and the arrival of Colvin 'Max' Mayers did not drastically affect the overall sound. Next up was From The Lion's Mouth, one of the best second albums ever unleashed onto an unsuspecting world. This refined the previous effort's best elements, with the great Hugh Jones in the production chair down at Rockfield, and 8 out of the 10 tracks are classics. Despite glowing press reviews however the impact of this masterpiece in sales terms was disappointing.

Album 3, All Fall Down, was made amid mounting label pressure. It didn't and still doesn't display the full talents of the band, yet you cannot fault it as a statement of how they felt at the time. It lacked the clarity & consistency of its predecessors and the production almost sounded like a backward step. Perhaps this was intentional from the band's perspective as they became embroiled in business politics. They weren't the first or the last to get caught out in the great Art vs Economics debate that would also feature in the lives of soon to be labelmates The Chameleons, fellow dwellers on the 'darker side of life'. For all its failings, All Fall Down gave birth to Red Paint which became a live staple. The overall criticism was that for a band that had seemed so honed & focused it was a hotch potch of attempts to shift units. It failed, and the band left the label. The shock seemed to pull The Sound back into harness with an overall style that sounded comfortable to them. If All Fall Down represented a nadir in their fortunes, the mini-album Shock Of Daylight was a more upbeat and optimistic take on the angst of yore. $ of the 6 tracks are up there with their best.

Renascent have paired Shock Of Daylight with the album proper that followed, Heads And Hearts. For whatever reason production chores passed from Pat Collier to Wally Brill, but the overall feel headed in the same direction. A fuller sound is down to both the production and the use of brass on some arrangements. Time has been kind to the material on display here and there's a maturity that surpassed some of the previous 'articulate punk' slant. The Sound's final release for Statik was the obligatory double live album, In The Hothouse - but how wrong it would be to treat their effort as such. Live they still delivered sets that stayed true to their beginnings. All the favourites are here and sound great, though there is little between-song patter which would have added a valid historical slant. Never mind, what you have here is a good selection of 'Greatest Moments' and there can be no doubting Adrian's passion & belief in the material. The accompanying notes list their Gig History from 1981 to 1987. The album was recorded at The Marquee in London over 2 nights in August 1985.

The previously unreleased / unavailable Propaganda was recorded in 1979, pre The Sound but post the name change from The Outsiders; 3 of the songs made it to Jeopardy. This was due to be released in April 1999 and all the preparatory work had been finished - including sleevenotes by Adrian Borland. However the day will hence be remembered for another event - the singer's sad death as a result of depression. Let us not forget that Adrian was not the only band member to have left us: Calvin Mayers died in 1993. Of the others Graham Bailey works for a cable TV channel in America and Mike Dudley works for a magazine in the UK. In addition to the recorded works it is worth checking out the excellent Book of (Happy) Memories, where memories and reflections have been gathered together by Jean-Paul van Mierlo & Willemien Spook. Contributors embrace family, friends and fellow conspirators, the latter including Adrian's colleague in White Rose Transmission, Carlo van Putten of the Convent.

2002 - RECORD PLAYER - March 2002

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