Adrian Borland ( †1999)
Colvin "Max" Mayers († 1993)
Bi Marshall (Benita Biltoo)
Prior to The Sound's formation Adrian Borland had already released "Calling On Youth" and "Close Up", and the "One To Infinity" EP on Raw Edge (a label run by Adrian's parents) as leader of UK's Outsiders from 1977-78. Towards the end of 1978 Graham Bailey joined the band, replacing the original bass player, Bob Lawrence, and Michael Dudley was recruited to play alongside Adrian Janes (percussion). The new line-up recorded three tracks, which emerged on the Tortch label as the "Physical World" EP in December 1979, credited not as the Outsiders but as The Sound. They had progressed musically from their punk roots and were anxious to leave behind a name that still conjured up the atmosphere of 1977.
While not a member, ex-Outsider Adrian Janes would contribute ideas and co-write lyrics to the Sound's music. During 1979, Borland and Bailey created Second Layer, a harder, more experimental project that ran parallel with The Sound, releasing two EPs and an album.
The Sound made their debut with the EP Physical World in 1979, released on manager Stephen Budd’s Tortch label. 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. Following the Physical World EP, the band intended to record a full-length album. Upon hearing the rough mixes that Budd had financed, WEA sub-label Korova, then home of Echo & the Bunnymen, offered to sign the group, and the band accepted.
After the critical acclaim of the debut EP, The Sound signed to Korova Records, releasing a string of singles and two albums, "Jeopardy" and "From The Lions Mouth" and a live EP, the inconsequential Live Instinct E.P which contains four songs recorded onstage in London, including renditions of the band's 1979 debut single "Cold Beat" and a few "Jeopardy" songs.
Following the album "Jeopardy", Marshall left the band and was replaced by Colvin "Max" Mayers, previously of Cardiac Arrest, who would change their name to Cardiacs.
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.
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. These stirred a great deal of interest from both critics and public alike, establishing Adrian Borland as one of the most creative and mature writers of the post-punk scene. Adrian Borland also released a collaborative EP that year with Jello Biafra under the name the Witch Trials.
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".
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.
Pushed by their label to sound more commercial, "All Fall Down" is the defiant reply, a stark, barren landscape of harsh tones and dark passages. The black, clashing music makes the challenging album an acquired taste, an ambitious, admirable exploration of the downside; not surprisingly, the record company sent the band packing.
The band signed with independent label Statik in 1984. They released an EP, Shock of Daylight, which received favourable coverage from the music press. "Shock Of Daylight" a six-song mini-album produced by Pat Collier, is a strong return, building melodic, dramatic songs on a gutsy bass/drums drive, overlaying guitar, keyboards and even brass to create an attractively textured and varied sound. This was followed a year later by the full-length Heads and Hearts. "Heads & Hearts" is even better, a quilt of bright colors woven with simple care. Though it lacks the knockout punch they'd shown in the past, with "Winning" or "Golden Soldiers" for example, the record's modesty and continuous flow make it a thoroughly engaging listen, a memorable album whose sum is greater than its parts.
By 1985, Borland had begun to exhibit symptoms of mental illness. In 1985 "In The Hothouse" was recorded and released, a double live thriller from London's Marquee, with all the claustrophobic ambience of the club's packed space coming through on the recording. Live records this immediate sounding are hard to find. With the bulk of the material chosen from "Heads & Hearts" and "From The Lions Mouth", this is a superb introduction for the curious. "Thunder Up" is a middle ground between "All Fall Down's" emotional warfare and the later, more sensuous pop. Punching right in with one of their most exciting tracks, "Acceleration Group", the album is a rollercoaster ride through desolation ("Shot Up and Shut Down"), titillation ("Kinetic"), cynicism ("Prove Me Wrong") and profound beauty ("You've Got a Way"). Though the contrast can be jarring, unpredictability is a strength, and this is a bold up/down, hot/cold, built-up/knocked-down record most bands would not attempt. It was to be their last such uncompromising work. 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 1987, after their last gig they did in de Boerderij, in Zoetermeer (NL), where Adrian left the stage halfway the set.
The Sound's back catalog was remastered and reissued by Renascent (run by friend of the band Mick Griffiths), 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. On Black Friday, November 26, 2021, SoundHaarlemlikesVinyl releases a new album 'Will and Testamen' with 3 sides of live performances from different gigs. And one side of the album, called 'Startime' with 4 demos, never earlier released.
© 1999-2013 Simon Heavisides / Rients Bootsma
© 2022 Jean-Paul van Mierlo
- vocals, guitar
- bass guitar