The Sound (band)
From left to right: Graham Bailey, Colvin "Max" Mayers, Michael Dudley and Adrian Borland
|Origin||South London, London, England|
Benita "Bi" Marshall
Colvin "Max" Mayers
While never commercially successful, the Sound have long been championed by critics.
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. Borland and Bailey also made up the band Second Layer, formed around the same time as the Sound.
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.
Signing to major label
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.
Jeopardy, their debut album, was recorded inexpensively and released in November 1980 to critical acclaim; it received 5-star reviews from three major music publications, NME, Sounds and Melody Maker.
Following the album, Marshall left the band and was replaced by Colvin "Max" Mayers, previously in Cardiacs. For their second album, the band worked with producer Hugh Jones. From the Lions Mouth was released in 1981, to further critical acclaim, though their fanbase hadn't extended beyond a cult following. Borland also released a collaborative EP that year with Jello Biafra under the name the Witch Trials.
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. The Sound recorded several Peel sessions and performed the single "Sense of Purpose" on the TV show Old Grey Whistle Test. 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 with All Fall Down in 1982, an album that took them even further away from the mainstream. 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 and From 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.
Change of record labels
All Fall Down was panned by critics upon its release. Upon receiving the album, WEA decided not to promote it, and the band and the label parted company. In 1983, The Sound released a joint EP in collaboration with singer Kevin Hewick, This Cover Keeps Reality Unreal, on Cherry Red Records.
The band were approached by several labels, ultimately signing with independent label Statik in 1984. 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.
Not long after the 1985 release of a live album, In the Hothouse, Statik went into bankruptcy. The band produced one more album, Thunder Up, on the Belgian label Play It Again Sam. 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. The band split up in early 1988.
Bailey moved to New Orleans, where he lived for 16 years, returning to the UK in 2007. Mayers died in 1993 from an AIDS-related condition. Dudley retired from the music industry, living and working in South London.
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 (in which he gave himself the alias Joachim Pimento). Never able to conquer his depression and anguished about returning to a psychiatric hospital, Borland, who reportedly suffered from a schizoaffective disorder, committed suicide on 26 April 1999, throwing himself in the path of an express train at Wimbledon station.
Shortly before Borland's death, the Sound's back catalog was remastered and reissued by Renascent, a label which was founded to perform solely that task. (Thunder Up is the band's only studio album to not be reissued by Renascent.)
Propaganda, an album of recordings the band had made in May to July 1979 when the group were transitioning from the Outsiders, was released in 1999. A second post-breakup release, The BBC Recordings, was issued in 2004, compiling two radio sessions and two live concerts.
Edsel Records released two box sets compiling all of the band's recordings: Jeopardy / From the Lion's Mouth / All Fall Down...Plus in 2014 and Shock of Daylight / Heads and Hearts / In the Hothouse (Live) / Thunder Up / Propaganda in 2015.
Many have said that the Sound were not given the recognition they deserved. 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 & the Bunnymen". Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover magazine stated: "The Sound? Just one of the finest bands of the 1980s." Chris Roberts of Uncut magazine wrote, "U2? Joy Division? Bunnymen? They pale in this band's shadow".
A biography of Adrian Borland, titled Book of (Happy) Memories, was published in 2001. In the same year, a tribute album titled In Passing – A Tribute to Adrian Borland and the Sound was released.
- Jeopardy (1980, Korova)
- From the Lions Mouth (1981, Korova)
- All Fall Down (1982, WEA)
- Heads and Hearts (1985, Statik Records)
- Thunder Up (1987, Play It Again Sam Records)
- Propaganda (1999, Renascent)
- Physical World E.P. (1979, Tortch Records)
- This Cover Keeps Reality Unreal with Kevin Hewick (1983. Cherry Red Records)
- Shock of Daylight (1984, Statik Records)
- Live Instinct (live) (1981, WEA)
- In the Hothouse (1985, Statik Records)
- The BBC Recordings (2004, Renascent)
- The Dutch Radio Recordings 1. 08.03.81 Amsterdam, Paradiso (2006, Renascent)
- The Dutch Radio Recordings 2. 09.04.82 Utrecht, No Nukes Festival (2006, Renascent)
- The Dutch Radio Recordings 3. 24.01.83 Arnhem, Stokvishal (2006, Renascent)
- The Dutch Radio Recordings 4. 01.07.84 Den Haag, Parkpop Festival (2006, Renascent)
- The Dutch Radio Recordings 5. 09.04.85 Utrecht, Vrije Vloer (2006, Renascent)
- Counting the Days (1986, Statik Records)
- Shock of Daylight & Heads and Hearts (1996, Renascent)
- Jeopardy / From the Lion's Mouth / All Fall Down...Plus box set (2014, Edsel Records)
- Shock of Daylight / Heads and Hearts / In the Hothouse (Live) / Thunder Up / Propaganda box set (2015, Edsel Records)
- "Heyday"/"Brute Force" (1980, Korova)
- "Sense of Purpose (What Are We Going to Do)"/"Point of No Return" (1981, Korova)
- "Hot House"/"New Dark Age" (live) (1982, Korova)
- "Party of the Mind"/"Calling the New Tune" (1982, WEA)
- "Counting the Days"/"Dreams Then Plans" (1984, Statik Records)
- "One Thousand Reasons"/"Blood and Poison" (1984, Statik Records)
- "Golden Soldiers"/"Counting the Days" (1984, Statik Records)
- "Temperature Drop"/"Oiled" (1985, Statik Records)
- "Under You"/"Total Recall" (1985, Statik Records)
- "Hand of Love"/"Such a Difference" (1987, Play It Again Sam Records)
- "Iron Years (Remix)"/"I Give You Pain (Live)" (1987, Play It Again Sam Records)
- Kellman, Andy. "The Sound – Music Biography, Credits and Discography : AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- Lamey, Charles P.; Rabid, Jack; Ferguson, Scott. "trouserpress.com :: Sound". Trouser Press. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Discogs entry for The Witch Trials
- Reeves, Paul Sutton (March 2002). "[The Sound biography]". Record Collector. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "The Sound – Sense of Purpose – YouTube". YouTube. 9 August 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- "The Sound Microsite". renascent.co.uk. Archived from the original on 26 June 2004. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- Clarkson, John. "[Michael Dudley interview]". pennyblackmusic.com. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "Brittle Heaven Online Store". Brittle Heaven. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- "Brittle Heaven – The Official Adrian Borland Website". Brittle Heaven. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- "Health Fear Led to Death". Wimbledon Guardian. 15 July 1999. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- Kellman, Andy. "Propaganda – The Sound : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- "Brittle Heaven – The Official Adrian Borland Website". Brittle Heaven. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- Roberts, Chris (2004). "The Sound – The BBC Recordings". Uncut. Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "Clint : Message : Fw: Book of (Happy) Memories". Yahoo! Groups. 21 January 2001. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
- "Brittle Heaven – The Official Adrian Borland Website". Brittle Heaven. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "Amazon.com: In Passing; A Tribute to Adrian Borland and The Sound: Various Artists: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "The Split of The Sound". The Big Takeover. 24 June 1988. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2013.