Articles / Reviews

The Outsiders - Calling On Youth [reissue] review

date: Oct 7, 2013


 

One day [sic] Magazine will endeavour to bring you a full retrospective on legendary post-punk band, The Sound. But not today dear reader, for today belongs to Adrian Borland’s pre-Sound incarnation, The Outsiders. The dependable Cherry Red have seen fit to re-release both albums from the London-based punk act. Not sure why, but cheers anyway.

Discussion of punk albums can often find themselves loaded with contradictions. These Outsiders records are no exceptions. Legend has it that the true punks couldn’t play. Yet Borland was a guitarist of some repute. He wasn’t alone in this respect and we could easily point to Stuart Adamson (The SkidsKeith Levene(Clash/PIL) and Marco Pirroni (Banshees/Ants)as other examples of prodigious axe talent from the punk era. The thing that strikes most about Borland is just how good a guitarist he was so early into his career. So much so that one Calling On Youth you’ll find all manner of nods back to previous bands such as The DoorsVelvet Underground and even Roxy Music, when most punk bands were rebelling against the past. There are even guitar solos on the album, usually anathema to supposed punks.

But what did punk rock mean anyway? Nevermind The Bollocks is supposed to be the landmark album of the era but that isn’t really a punk record. Listen to the glossy production values and you’ll find that the Pistols famous LP is far from the scratchy, garage/demo quality of ‘true’ punk recordings. Indeed some might venture that punk was merely a movement or concept, that the whole idea of punk was non-conformation. Thus signing with a label and pressing an album are at odds with the whole punk ethic. Calling On Youth was a punk album but The Outsiders hadn’t been signed. The record goes into the history books as the first self-funded album by any UK punk act. In an era dominated by singles this might seem about as anarchic a move imaginable. So allow yourself a private chuckle with though thought that Adrian’s parents put up most of the money.

Punk contradictions run amok.

The music is patchy and sprawling as it could only be. There are few signals on the album proper of the tense, post-punk soon to follow. (If you don’t know The Sound, we’ll summarise by saying they were as close to Joy Division as any London act ever came. Buy From The Lions Mouth, one of the truly essential albums of British post-punk.) The extra One To Infinity EP tracks start to sound tighter and less cluttered, signposting the way forward. Calling On Youth is a decent punk record but not much more than a curio, even for fans of The Sound. I’ll give it a nudge more than half marks because it’s Borland.

Brett Holdaway - sicmagazine.net



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