The Work

The Man


RockPeaks Review #4 05/19/09

Adrian Borland and The Sound
on Spanish Public Television, 1984

This performance captures British post-punkers The Sound at the top of their game, which is appropriate given that the Spanish TV show it is taken from – "La Edad de Oro" – translates as "The Golden Age". The south London quartet produced a number of quality songs in their ten year history, but "Winning" is surely their finest, a musical moment on par with such famed tunes as Queen's "We Will Rock You" or AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" for its sheer motivational quality. Like those high-energy classics, it's a challenge to listen to this song without getting seriously pumped up.

The opening cut on their 1981 sophomore release "From the Lion's Mouth", "Winning" sounds even sharper and more passionate in this live performance than it does on record, the album's smoother atmospheric tones replaced here by a more gritty, angular guitar sound that cuts deeper and provides a more visceral overall effect.

More than a few critics and music fans feel that The Sound is one of the most criminally under-rated bands of the 80s, and frontman Adrian Borland was long-frustrated with group's seeming inability to break free from underground obscurity. Cult status wasn't satisfying enough for him, and his frustrations are apparent in the  interview  that the band gave for their appearance on this show. You'll be amused by Borland's confidence, a cockiness that borders on Liam Gallagher-like arrogance, particularly when he proclaims that The Sound are one of the few worthwhile bands around - "The Smiths are shit," he says.

Clearly Borland believed his band deserved recognition on the level of The Smiths or greater, and that widespread popularity and success was imminent. Indeed, in the sleeve notes of the album's 2002 re-release, drummer Michael Dudley writes that "This was going to be it. The BIG IMPORTANT second album. Stardom beckoned (so they told us)..." But unfortunately, the record failed to ignite the charts.

The song is all about resilience, something that Adrian Borland sadly didn't have in the end. With this song, Borland actually foreshadows his own eventual suicide with lines such as "When you reach the end of your tether, it's because it wasn't strong enough." And although Borland is now gone, the optimistic attitude that he held during the writing of this song will forever remain to help others in moments of self-doubt.

- Grant Patten