The Sound were an English post-punk band, formed in South London in 1979 and dissolved in 1988. They were fronted by Adrian Borland and evolved from his previous band, The Outsiders.

While never commercially successful, The Sound have long been championed by critics.

Background[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Beginnings[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The Sound were formed in South London in 1979 from the remnants of the punk band The Outsiders. The original lineup of The Sound consisted of Adrian Borland(vocals, guitar) and Graham Bailey (bass guitar), both ex-Outsiders, along with Mike Dudley (drums) and Benita "Bi" Marshall (keyboard, saxophone, clarinet). While not a member, ex-Outsider Adrian Janes would contribute ideas and co-write lyrics to The Sound's music.[1] Borland and Bailey also made up the band Second Layer, formed around the same time as The Sound.[2]

The Sound made their debut with the EP Physical World in 1979. It was favourably received by NME and received airplay from DJ John Peel. More of their early recordings were later released as the album Propaganda in 1999.[1]

Sign to major label[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Following the Physical World EP, the band intended to record a full-length album. Upon hearing the rough mixes, WEA sub-label Korova, then home of Echo & the Bunnymen, offered to sign the group, and the band accepted.[1]

Jeopardy, their debut album, was recorded inexpensively and released in November 1980 to critical acclaim; it received five-star reviews from three major music publications, NMESounds and Melody Maker.[1]

Following the album, Bi Marshall left the band and was replaced by Colvin "Max" Mayers. For their second album, the band worked with producer Hugh JonesFrom the Lions Mouth was released in 1981, to further critical acclaim, though their fanbase hadn't extended beyond a cult following.[1]

During the early 1980s, The Sound toured throughout Europe, covering the UK and much of the continent. Like their contemporaries The Comsat Angels (whom they toured with in 1981), they enjoyed perhaps their greatest success in the Netherlands, developing a substantial following there.[3] The Sound recorded several Peel sessions and performed the single "Sense of Purpose" on the TV show Old Grey Whistle Test.[4] In the same year, The Sound released a live EP in the Netherlands, titled Live Instinct.

Korova pressured Borland and his bandmates to come up with a more commercially successful third album, in addition to shifting The Sound from Korova to WEA proper. In an act of rebellion, they responded withAll Fall Down in 1982, an album that took them even further away from the mainstream.[5] Drummer Mike Dudley explained:

We thought [the label wasn't] giving us the support that we were due and that if they really wanted a commercial album, they had got to put plenty of money behind it, which with both Jeopardy andFrom the Lions Mouth they hadn't really done [...] So when they turned around and said, 'The solution is for you to write more commercial songs', we thought, 'Fuck you', and went ahead and produced All Fall Down.[6]

Change of record labels[edit source | editbeta]Edit

All Fall Down was panned by critics upon its release. Upon receiving All Fall Down, WEA decided not to promote the album, and the band and the label parted company.[1] In 1983, The Sound released a joint EP in collaboration with singer Kevin HewickThis Cover Keeps Reality Unreal, on Cherry Red Records.

The band were approached by several labels, ultimately signing with independent label Statik in 1984.[1] They released an EP, Shock of Daylight, which received favourable coverage from the music press. This was followed a year later by the full-length Heads and Hearts. By 1985, Borland had begun to exhibit symptoms of mental illness, perhaps worsened by the frustrations of his career.[6]

Not long after the 1986 release of a live album, In the Hothouse, Statik went into bankruptcy.[6] The band produced one more album, Thunder Up, on the Belgian label Play It Again Sam.[1] While touring Spain in 1987, they had to cancel several appearances after Borland suffered a complete breakdown. Dudley recalled bringing an incoherent Borland home on a plane.[6] The band split up in early 1988.[2]

Post-breakup activity[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Graham Bailey moved to New Orleans, where he lived for 16 years, returning to the UK in 2007. Max Mayers died in 1993 from an AIDS-related condition. Mike Dudley retired from the music industry, living and working in South London.[5]

Following the collapse of The Sound, Borland maintained a solo career for approximately a decade, and participated in the bands White Rose Transmission and Honolulu Mountain Daffodils[1] (in which he gave himself the alias Joachim Pimento).[7] Never able to conquer his depression and anguished about returning to a mental hospital, Borland, who reportedly suffered from a schizoaffective disorder, committed suicide on April 26, 1999,[1][8] throwing himself in the path of an express train at Wimbledon station.[9]

Propaganda, an album of recordings the band had laid down in May to July 1979 when the group were transitioning from The Outsiders, was released in 1999.[10] A second post-breakup release, The BBC Recordings, was issued in 2004 and compiles two radio sessions and two live concerts.

Legacy[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Many have said that The Sound were not given the recognition they deserved.[1] Trouser Press questioned: "It's hard to understand why this London quartet never found commercial success. At their best, The Sound's excellent neo-pop bears favourable comparison to The Psychedelic Furs and Echo and the Bunnymen."[2] Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover magazine stated: "The Sound? Just one of the finest bands of the 1980s."[11] Chris Roberts of Uncut magazine wrote, "U2Joy Division? Bunnymen? They pale in this band's shadow."[12]

Shortly before Adrian Borland's death, The Sound's back catalog was remastered and reissued by Renascent Records, a label which was originally founded to perform solely that task.[5] (Thunder Up is the band's only studio album to not be reissued by Renascent.)

A biography of Adrian Borland, titled Book of (Happy) Memories, was published in 2001.[13][14] In the same year, a tribute album titled In Passing – A Tribute to Adrian Borland and The Sound was released.[15]

Influences[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The Sound have been cited to have been influenced by The Velvet UndergroundThe Stooges and Joy Division.[16]

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Studio albums
  • Physical World E.P. (1979)
  • This Cover Keeps Reality Unreal (1983) (split with Kevin Hewick)
  • Shock of Daylight (1984)
  • Live Instinct (1981) (live)
Live albums
  • In the Hothouse (1986)
  • The BBC Recordings (2004)
  • The Dutch Radio Recordings 1. 08.03.81 Amsterdam, Paradiso (2006)
  • The Dutch Radio Recordings 2. 09.04.82 Utrecht, No Nukes Festival (2006)
  • The Dutch Radio Recordings 3. 24.01.83 Arnhem, Stokvishal (2006)
  • The Dutch Radio Recordings 4. 01.07.84 Den Haag, Parkpop Festival (2006)
  • The Dutch Radio Recordings 5. 09.04.85 Utrecht, Vrije Vloer (2006)
Compilation albums
  • Counting the Days (1986)
  • "Heyday"/"Brute Force" (1980)
  • "Sense of Purpose (What Are We Going to Do"/"Point of No Return" (1981)
  • "Hot House"/"New Dark Age" (live) (1982)
  • "Counting the Days"/"Dreams Then Plans" (1984)
  • "One Thousand Reasons"/"Blood and Poison" (1984)
  • "Golden Soldiers"/"Counting the Days" (1984)
  • "Temperature Drop"/"Oiled" (1985)
  • "Under You"/"Total Recall" (1985)
  • "Hand of Love"/"Such a Difference" (1987)
  • "Iron Years (Remix)"/"I Give You Pain (Live)" (1987)
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.