The Sound – The Dutch Radio Recordings

The stream of post-career releases by The Sound does not seem to dry up. The postpunk band from England existed from 1979 till 1988, after which their singer Adrian Borland continued a solo career. After his death in April 1999, the discography of both The Sound and Adrian Borland was far from complete.

Three posthumous solo albums from Borland came out, as well as several Sound releases. Apart from reissues of most of their albums, the fans were treated to early recordings on Propaganda, a splendid double cd with BBC Sessions and now five live cd’s at once! And this may not be all; there are rumours about a compilation with rare tracks and a possible dvd (if enough video material can be found). Luckily all these releases are handled with respect, with commercial motives far in the background.

Back to the new live cd’s. All five of them are registrations of concerts in The Netherlands. This is no coincidence, The Sound was for some reason more popular here than in their own country. Adrian Borland even lived in The Netherlands for several years. The sound quality of the discs is excellent, because they were recorded and broadcasted by Dutch radio. The cd’s are friendly priced and come in a simple cardboard sleeve. Nice are the facsimile inserts of original tickets or backstage passes, and the short tongue-in-cheek introductions by drummer Mike Dudley. Interesting about the set is that each disc is from another year, with different setlists, settings and phases in The Sound’s career.

1. 08.03.81 Amsterdam, Paradiso
A concert in the legendary Paradiso venue, where Joy Division played a classic concert one year earlier. The band sounds energetic and youthful, with various punky tracks from their debut Jeopardy. Like their first single ‘Hey Day’ (which is even played twice, because they ran out of material) and the B-side ‘Brute force’. Some of the more ‘mature’ tracks of their forthcoming LP ‘From the Lion’s mouth’ are already on the menu, though some of them still a bit shaky. Highlight is a fierce and ominous rendition of The Sound’s anthem ‘Missiles’.

2. 09.04.82 Utrecht, No Nukes Festival
Here The Sound played an hour on a huge protest festival against nuclear weapons, other performers included The Stranglers and U2. After an introduction in Dutch, the band starts surprisingly with the new and slow ‘All fall down’. The band is in a quite confident and rebellious mood. Borland talks a lot and tells the visitors to ‘fuck off’ if they don’t like it. According to Dudley, it’s one their most rock ‘n roll performances ever. Borland shouts in a rather coarse voice and the whole band seems to be full of tension. Classic songs like ‘Sense of Purpose’ and ‘Winning’ are performed with a lot of passion. ‘New Dark age’ is played in a lenghty version, after which the band returns for the encores ‘Silent air’ and ‘Missiles’. This cd is a fine document of an era.

3. 24.01.83 Arnhem, Stokvishal
A year later, things have changed for The Sound. Despite the critical acclaim, their first two LP’s didn’t sell massively and their record company was disappointed with the uncommercial “All Fall Down” album. Most interesting about this concert is the selection of songs. Not too much old material (but including the gloomy ‘Hour of Need’), a strong focus on “All Fall Down” and two non-album tracks: ‘Oiled’ and ‘Who’s sorry now’, of which the latter has quite some potential. The concert starts quite restrained and moody, but ends energetic with the quartet ‘Sense of purpose’, the splendid ‘Party of the mind’, ‘Winning’ and ‘Heartland’.

4. 01.07.84 Den Haag, Parkpop Festival
In ‘84 The Sound was headliner at a small free festival in The Hague, which nowadays has evolved into one of Europe’s biggest festivals. Borland began with the bold annoucement “We don’t do Missiles anymore, we never do the obvious thing”. Instead they started with the lesser-known ‘Unwritten law’ from their debut LP. They do still play ‘Winning’, ‘Sense of Purpose’ and ‘New dark age’, but also various newer tracks of “Shock Of Daylight” and “Heads & Hearts”. It’s a solid performance, with a quite dominant keyboard sound. The splendid ‘The Fire’ is dedicated to “the idiot that wrote that The Sound have lost their holy fire” and Borland also shouts “Fuck off, Jim Kerr!”. A nice moment halfway is the intimate ‘Monument’, followed by the melancholic ‘Counting the days’ and the powerful ‘Counting the days’, after which the crowd is pleased with some older classics.

5. 09.04.85 Utrecht, Vrije Vloer
The last disc of the series testifies of an experienced band playing again in my hometown Utrecht, in a venue that has been closed since long. Apparently Borland was feeling ill that night, but he still gives his best. Prominent guest is sax player Ian Nelson, who also played on “Heads and Hearts” (and who died this year unfortunately). Also noteworthy is the presence of the unknown track ‘World as it is’. The concert gives a nice overview of the varied work of The Sound. The band has perhaps lost much of its youthful enthousiasm and raw edges (the crowd is demanding ‘rock ‘n roll’), but they still deliver a compelling concert.

Well, these five discs are a welcome addition to the only official live release “In the Hothouse” and certainly prove that The Sound was an excellent live band. I enjoyed the fact that the recordings are not too polished, with all the crowd cheers and remarks of Borland left intact. The true fan will probably try to obtain the complete set. If you’d like to have just a single live cd, I’d recommend the ‘No Nukes cd’, where you can most strongly feel the passion and urgency of The Sound, who were at their creative peak at that time.

artist: Sound, The
label: Renascent
details: 5 cd's, 2006 [REN CD 13-17]