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The Outsiders - Close Up [reissue] review

date: Oct 7, 2013


 

Adrian Borland (RIP) was a legend, force of nature front-man/guitarist and sensitive soul. If you don’t know about The Sound, don’t worry, you are far from alone. Bad luck and industry whim conspired against the London-based, post punk greats. They fell out of fashion, out of favour and away from our ears. They remain one of my all time favourite bands. 

Close Up is one step before The Sound’s debut album Jeopardy. Released in 1979 Close Up is to Jeopardy what Warsaw was to Unknown Pleasures. Certainly it is a major progression from Calling On Youth. Right away we start to hear a more crafted approach. Discordant tracks such as the staccato ‘Touch And Go’ are decidedly more post than punk. ‘Conspiracy Of War’ is surely a forerunner to The Sound’s ‘Missiles’?

We can hear the promise certainly. There are some decent ideas here (‘Face To Face’) and Adrian’s ‘Sound’ voice is beginning to emerge. The main problem seems to be Borland’s inability to shake off past influences. The riffs, superb as they are, belong to classic rock. Borland, who would famously go on to write and perform ‘I Can’t Escape Myself’, hadn’t quite found his own, unique, frontman style and was still looking to the likes of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop at the time of The Outsiders. (Did you know Iggy once joined The Outsiders on stage to perform ‘Raw Power’?) 

Both Close Up and Calling On Youth are important because if nothing else, they allowed Adrian Borland to clear away the cobwebs of his own pre-punk musical tastes and influences to create space for The Sound to emerge. That said,Close Up is clearly the better record of the two Outsiders releases. Those who feel the need to beef up their Borland collection would be wise to employ reverse chronology and visit Close Up before Calling On Youth. Stop there if the former proves unsatisfying. Not forgetting that The Sound’s pre-Jeopardy, Propaganda recordings also exist, although much of that stuff is very hard to track down these days.

Sleeve notes are provided by Brittle Heaven/Red Sun Records maestro Rients Bootsma (big respect) and Tim Peacock and credit once again goes to Cherry Red for supporting these re-releases (which incidentally are fully supported by the Borland estate). Now can someone please do the same for The Sound? I’ll say again, From The Lions Mouth is one of the greatest albums of all time. We might have to go up to eleven for that one! 

Brett Holdaway - sicmagazine.net



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