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on 26 July 2015
Popular music is peppered with bands that really should have crossed over into the mainstream and enjoyed wider appeal, but for often unaccountable reasons, remained comparatively unheralded. In the realm of ‘indie guitar bands’ The Go-Betweens, That Petrol Emotion and Kitchens of Distinction spring immediately to mind as bands that should have been huge. Similarly, whilst recent years have seen renewed media and consumer interest in a slew of post-punk bands, with the usual suspects like Joy Division, PiL, Wire, Gang of Four and Magazine garnering the lion’s share of the coverage and praise, London’s The Sound have remained largely unsung.

At the time of their existence, from 1979 to 1988, much the same situation existed. The Sound’s records often met with unanimous critical acclaim in the music press, yet they never managed the same mainstream success that, say, Joy Division eventually achieved. Neither did they gain the same sizeable cult status of their contemporaries The Chameleons and The Comsat Angels, bands with whom they shared certain sonic similarities and aesthetics. Somehow The Sound remained unjustly under-rated and overlooked.

Collecting together the band’s first three albums, EP tracks, radio sessions, incendiary live performances and a scattering of hitherto unreleased tracks, this new box set represents serious value for money. The music is spread over four CDs housed in replicas of the original albums’ outer sleeves, alongside an informative 36-page colour booklet containing an essay on the band, interviews and full lyrics.

The Sound’s 1980 debut album “Jeopardy” is a taut and flab-free blast of post-punk energy. Recorded in a cramped studio in London in just a week, reputedly on a budget of under £1000 - remarkable particularly as the band were signed to a major label, Warner Bros’ Korova imprint - it feels like the work of a band with incredible need and focus, desperate to get their message across. Musically, there are similarities with label mates Echo and the Bunnymen’s debut “Crocodiles” and The Teardrop Explodes’ early catalogue, particularly on the organ-driven “Heartland”. Singer Adrian Borland is a man possessed, his vocals often damning or brimming with disgust: “Who the hell makes those missiles when they know what they can do?” he spits on arguably the album’s highlight, “Missiles”. “Jeopardy” was a fine statement of intent, still heady from the excitement and verve of punk, but moving into something new, deeper and more finely crafted.

“From the Lion’s Mouth” followed exactly twelve months after the debut, its sound comparatively measured and polished, perhaps in part due to the involvement of Hugh Jones as producer, fresh from his work with on Simple Minds’ “Sons and Fascination” and Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Heaven Up Here”. The songs, at their best, such as on the opener “Winning” (particularly in its live incarnation elsewhere in this set) and “Skeletons” are easily the equal of “Unknown Pleasures” or “Script of the Bridge”. The production on the album perhaps reins in the ferocity and energy a little too much at times, but it’s still a mighty fine album demonstrating the band’s growing musical maturity and self-assurance and Borland’s superlative lyric writing. “Silent Air” is a particularly affecting and effective confessional, its lyrics compounded by the delivery, Borland’s voice occasionally cracking slightly, as it often does on these recordings. There’s an honesty and directness to his lyrics; perhaps one of the reasons that The Sound have stood the test of time so well.

By their third album, 1982’s “All Fall Down”, The Sound were under pressure from their label to produce a record that was a commercial success. The band, meanwhile, appeared to be more concerned with expanding their musical palette and experimental artistic expression. These competing pressures yielded mixed results, with the album occasionally falling awkwardly between the two. That’s not to say that there aren’t excellent moments, though. “Monument”, in particular, is a gorgeous and sumptuous pop song, whilst “Calling the New Tune” is reminiscent of Gang of Four’s “Songs of the Free”, released the same year, boasting relatively glossy production values and definite crossover potential. At the same time, one can only imagine the look of horror on the faces of Warner execs when they first heard “Glass and Smoke”, seven bloody-minded minutes of percussion-heavy repetition and discordant guitars. Needless to say, commercial success did not follow “All Fall Down” and The Sound were dropped by their label.

The final disc in the set brings together two live performances originally broadcast on BBC Radio 1 in 1981 and 1985. The first catches the band in full flight with a set drawn from the first two albums and a sound midway between the raucous immediacy of the debut and the assured control of the second. The 1985 concert finds the band sounding far more atmospheric and textured, although the recording occasionally sounds very much of its time due to the synthesizer sounds and the addition of saxophone, courtesy of Fiat Lux’s Ian Nelson. Even so, the song writing and Borland’s passionate delivery stand out, particularly on an excellent take on “Total Recall” from their album “Heads and Hearts”, released the same year by the independent label Statik. There’s also a return to the debut album with a solid and expansive eight-minute take on “Missiles”, bringing the box set’s contents full circle.

The Sound eventually called it a day in 1988, after which Adrian Borland continued primarily as a solo artist but also as a producer to bands including Felt, The Celibate Rifles and Into Paradise, while other band members retired from music or passed away (keyboard player Max Mayers died as a result of an AIDS-related illness in 1993). Borland had long experienced debilitating mental health issues and these eventually contributed to his premature death from suicide in 1999.

From time to time, The Sound’s albums are reissued and gain respectable coverage; a book appeared a few years ago and now there is talk of a documentary film being made about Borland and his music. If there is any shred of justice left in this world, this box set will further cement The Sound’s reputation as one of the great post-punk bands. Whilst the five hours of their music might be a daunting prospect, if you have any interest in post-punk past or present, this box set deserves your time and attention. It will repay you handsomely.
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on 11 May 2014
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on 29 April 2014
Individually these albums on CD were fetching at least twice the price of this entire box set just a couple of years ago, so needless to say this 4CD set for just over £12 represents astonishing value currently. If you know of The Sound, chances are you will already have owned and cherished these 3 albums for some time, however you may not have the comprehensive extras that this box set includes from that era (mostly previously available on the fantastic and now very collectable Renascent reissues). If you are looking to further discover The Sound then this is the obvious purchase, as it includes everything from the first half of their career.

Tim Peacock’s sleeve notes offer interesting insights into the recordings of the albums, and the band’s numerous problems with major labels. From the extras the original version of We Could Go Far is a treat to hear, minus the bass drum that Warners apparently insisted on adding to the final mix to make it sound “more commercial”, somewhat missing their vision for the LP’s playout track to say the least.. Point Of No Return hones the distinctively discordant minimalist sound of their Jeopardy recordings, and Hot House is a beautifully-produced, arranged and oddly-uplifting single, given the moodier feel of the Lion’s Mouth era recordings, that captures them firing on all cylinders.

The BBC sessions tracks are equally as strong their official recordings - I Can’t Escape Myself for example sounds like it was recorded in front of a festival audience, such is the passion, typical of their live performances. The Kevin Hewick collaboration tracks are varied in the extreme, and although interesting in the context of the history of The Sound, they are somewhat distracting from the overall package as Hewick’s vocal and lyrical styles are a million miles away from Adrian Borland’s.. I will tactfully leave it at that.

The BBC in concert recordings capture The Sound in their element as an extremely powerful live band, playing with trademark passion and ability, a mesmerising and brooding mix of order and chaos, typified through Borland’s guitar solo on Missiles, or his searing vocals on New Dark Age. The energy is tangible, and one can’t help but imagine being in the audience at one of those gigs, and longing for the invention of time-travel..

So, The Sound and Adrian Borland, sorely missed, but still here to be celebrated.
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When you think about how Joy Division, New Order and of course The Cure have been literally deified in the last 30+ years – it’s odd that London’s The Sound don’t hold that same pedestal. Well I’d argue that this brilliant 4CD Edsel Box Set reissue is not only going to change that - but is also a 2014 reissue of the year. There’s a shed load on here - so let’s get to the Post Punk details…

UK released 28 April 2014 - Edsel EDSB 4012 (Barcode 740155401238) breaks down as follows…

Disc 1 (74:11 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are their debut album "Jeopardy" – released November 1980 in the UK on Korova KODE 2
Track 12 is "Physical World" – taken from the "Physical World" EP released independently in the UK on Tortch Records TOR 003 in 1979
Track 13 is "Brute Force" – a 1980 non-album B-side to the UK 7” single for "Heyday" on Korova KOW 10
Tracks 14 to 17 are the "Live Instinct EP" – A Dutch-Only Promo-Only release featuring exclusive live versions of Heartland, Brute Force, Jeopardy and Coldbeat
Tracks 18 to 21 are a BBC Session recorded 26 Sep 1980 for the Mike Read Show broadcast between 6th and 9th of October 1980 and featuring exclusive versions of Heartland, Unwritten Law, Jeopardy and I Can’t Escape Myself

Disc 2 (76:39 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 2nd album "From The Lion's Mouth" – released November 1981 in the UK on Korova KODE 5
Tracks 11 and 13 – "Point Of No Return" and "Coldbeat" - are the non-album B-sides to the UK 7" single of "Sense Of Purpose" released 1981 on Korova KOW 21
Tracks 12 and 14 – "Hot House" and "New Dark Age (Live)" – are the A&B-sides to a non-album 7” single released 1981 on Korova KOW 23
Tracks 15 to 18 are BBC Sessions recorded for The John Peel Show in November 1981 and are exclusive live versions of Fatal Flaw, Skeletons, Hot House and New Dark Age

Disc 3 (69:19 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 3rd album "All Fall Down" – released December 1982 in the UK on WEA 240019-1
Tracks 11 to 14 are BONUSES from the "All Fall Down" Sessions
Tracks 15 to 18 are the "This Cover Keeps Reality Unreal" EP by KEVIN HEWICK & THE SOUND – a 12" single released February 1984 in the UK on Cherry Red Records 12 CHERRY 76

Disc 4 – BBC LIVE IN CONCERT (61:35 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 8 originally broadcast 21 November 1981
Tracks 9 to 15 originally broadcast 15 June 1985

The mini box set has the 3 original vinyl albums in 5” card repro sleeves with a new card for the fourth BBC set. And the chunky 36-page booklet is fantastically detailed – photos of the albums, inners, 7” singles, record labels, industry adverts, lyrics to all three records and exceptionally good liner notes by TIM PEACOCK (of England’s Record Collector magazine) with contributions from band members. It’s a beautifully presented job.

The remasters by PHIL KINRADE at Alchemy are clean, full of presence and power – and really bring out the original production values of Nick Robbins. It’s edgy and full of menace and angst lyrics – love it. And the BBC live stuff in particular has great gusto - the band in full flight and untethered by studio restrictions.

"Jeopardy" is surely a lost Post Punk classic - opening in high form with “I Can’t Escape Myself” where songwriter Adrian Borland has clearly been listening to Television’s “Marquee Moon” just a little too often (lyrics above). “Missiles” lets the anger rip and the trashy “Heyday” was an obvious if unsuccessful single – but “Unwritten Law” is brilliant and closest to that Joy Division comparison. Fans will love the non-album B-side “Brute Force” on CD at last – kicking like a mule too.

The remaster of “Winning” sees the bass pop out of the speakers as the Echo & The Bunnymen melody works its way into your subconscious (its even a little like early Icehouse). The drums and gangling guitars of “Skeletons” have muscle now - as does the rattling percussion intro to “New Dark Age” sounding like a jungle clarion call. I’m so reminded of Joe Jackson’s anger on “Possession” (“There’s a devil in me trying to show its face…”) and the sheer gloom of “Silent Air” haunts even now.

By the time it got to "All Fall Down" the misery had only slightly abated to allow something as poppy as “Party Of My Mind” – a great Eighties sound and there’s even tenderness in the moody guitar-chug of “Where The Love Is” (“I want to put that smile on your face…”). Side 2 opens with the delicacy of Max Mayers’ Keyboards on “Song And Dance” while the sophisticated “Calling The New Tune” shows real song maturity and a very definite nod towards Depeche Mode. “We Could Go Far” is superb – Indie yet Mainstream.

The live stuff is so much more powerful and exciting – the band lets rip – full of piss and vinegar – with the BBC boffins taping it properly and well. Pete Drummond introduces both sets to a wildly enthusiastic crowd – “Unwritten Law”, “Winning” and “Golden Soldiers” being highlights.

So why didn’t The Sound make it – too doomy – too bleeding miserable – probably. But its because they stuck to their ‘sound’ that they’ve engendered such cult status and real affection. There’s a lot on here to love.

This is a genius reissue and a fan-pleasing offering – well done to all involved…
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on 1 May 2014
When these albums were released by Renascent in the early 2000s, they came housed in what can only be considered as beautifully and careful packaging. Lyrics were produced along with the late Adrian Borland’s comments about songs. It was clear from the outset that Renascent’s aim was in creating lovely releases, similar to what, say, Postcard Records and Factory Records, had done.

Yet, however, the sound (no pun intended) quality of those discs are flat sounding and there was no sparkle in the music. In fact, I had audio versions (TDK MA metal tapes) that my friend had applied some EQ on that sounded better. In fact, I could not listen to the Renascent discs at all despite admiring the presentation that housed the discs.

This has now changed. Edsel have put together a box set of The Sound’s Warner Brother days and my goodness the music sounds clearer, balanced and full of sparkle: they even outperform the audio recordings that I had! Borland’s guitar is salient on all four discs, Mike Dudley’s drumming has depth, Graham Bailey’s bass can at times make floor vibrate (well I am playing them through my B & W AS2 subwoofer) and Colvin Mayers keyboards embroiders the music in a way that I have not heard before.

Of course, there are niggles regarding what could have been included in the box set such as a replica of the full gatefold to Lions Mouth and the inner bag to Jeopardy. Also, it would be nice to have had the commentary by Borland found on the previous cd’s reproduced but that matters little compared to the music found on these discs. Phil Kinrade has done a remarkable job on these remasters and Edsel have done justice by housing the discs in a mini-lp format reproducing the original sleeves. In addition a booklet with words from Dudley and Bailey balances the box set out. For those who have the Renascent versions I would recommend this box set and for those in the unknown, go check out some music by the band and then buy this, you’ll love it.
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on 19 July 2014
The Sound all hail the Sound what can be said about this incredible band that hasn't been said before. Adrian Borland for me is one of the best songwriters, and guitarists of his generation if not ever. This boxset has to be the best highlight of this year it's very special, 4 discs of quality music for like 14 pound and a lovely 36 page booklet with pictures lyrics and much more. I just can't stop listening to it and looking at it it's that good, my favourite album from The Sound has to be All Fall Down it's solid from start to finish. Brilliant songs and melodies it's amazing really for me The Sound always had hope in their songs.Adrian was such a special musician I wish he was still with us but his memory lives on, through the music I'm sure if he was alive today he would approve of this great boxset!
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on 30 May 2014
Wonderful job of recovering the sublime work of Adrian Borland and his partners. Who is already fan of the Sound's music can not be without this awesome box. For those still does not know, here is an excellent opportunity to meet this extraordinary band and fall in love with their intense, creative, personal and deeply emotional music. God bless Adrian for letting such an honest and human legacy to the pop music. And forgive those who ignored that this is one of the best and most underrated bands in the history of rock.Thanks for having existed, Adrian.
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on 11 July 2014
Far too young to have known this band in its prime, The Sound have always been on the list of bands too check out, however the cost and dubious reviews of re-issue quality put me off until now. Worth the wait? Big fat yes! The songs, guitar work are excellent, each album charts the great progression of this ridiculously under rated group, post punk pioneers who helped inspire many genres and bands that followed, out classing many of there contemporaries and today's current crop. Buy it you'll find something to love.
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on 13 May 2014
When people slag off the music of 1980s (which still happens) you can bet your last cash that those people never heard the work of bands such as The Sound, the Church, XTC or Shriekback- all of whom created brilliant music which flew in the face of pressures to make more 'commercial' sounding recordings. The irony of it as that these bands made records which have outlived the decade in which they were originally released & Edsel's superb reissue of The Sound's 3 Warner Brothers albums in a box (along with a bonus disc of BBC live sessions) is a timely reminder that this was one of the most gifted bands of that or any other decade for that matter. I recall purchasing the stunning 'From The Lion's Mouth' in November 1981 & being completely blown away by its stark beauty, power, vulnerability & . . . well, perhaps genius is the word. I've never tired of hearing it from that first day to this & Edsel deserves enormous credit for making all of the discs in the box sound as good as new again. Other record labels should sit up, open their ears & take note of how Edsel has shown here how to reissue classic material without compromising the integrity of the original recordings. Most of the 'commercial' music of the 1980s has become virtually unlistenable but not The Sound. These records are as brilliant and inspiring today as they were when, sadly, too few people were paying attention.
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on 6 June 2014
greatest post-punk band of the world!
Cheap edition very good , because REN cd`s has got unbelivable price.
Needed to buy till fix price actually.
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