Last time we talked about Sounds in this forum, we picked through an issue from exactly one year before this one, and admitted that no, this long-running weekly UK music tabloid was not a fanzine, but that it often read like one nonetheless. Sounds’ breadth was impressive and its tart & acidic writing quite entertaining as well, even if they sometimes read like a strange jumble of oi/UK82 punk, horrific mainstream acts, synth-pop, “The New Wave of British Heavy Metal”, gothy post-punk and homegrown reggae.
A few brief things to say about this November 7th, 1981 issue. First of all, Clare Grogan was cute as a button. I don’t think you could pay me to listen to Altered Images again, but when I was 14 – i.e. when the cloying “Happy Birthday” was the #2 song in England, i.e. when this issue of Sounds came out and landed her band on the cover – well, I had a lot more patience for her baby voice and their bouncy, synthesized sounds.I stumbled upon an early 2000s TV documentary on Altered Images on YouTube and she was still bursting with charm and charisma, someone just made for pop music. John Peel sure thought so, and was the band’s #1 patron, the guy who basically took them from nowheresville, Scotland to where they’re residing at the time of this issue. Clare has much to say in the band’s interview about how she “just loves that man!”.
Second, there is not a single journalistic byline anywhere in this issue. None. There’s no clue whatsoever which pundit wrote a 45 review, who did an interview, who savaged a Prince or Olivia Newton-John album, nothing. Why? All material was just by “Sounds”? It wasn’t always this way, for sure – I mean, I knew who Gary Bushell was in Sounds because he was the wound-up “oi” guy. British music journalists at this time often loved to put themselves at the center of any story. Perhaps it was because of this note found on Page 42, “Sounds apologies (sic) for the reduced size of this current edition and the omission of some regular features. These problems are due to industrial action by journalists.” Ah, the Thatcher era! I’ll bet that’s it.
Well, really I bought this issue online a few years ago not because of Clare nor Depeche Mode nor Rod Stewart, but because there’s a full feature story on Chris D. and The Flesh Eaters – right before A Minute To Pray, a Second To Die has even come out. The Flesh Eaters really didn’t seem to translate overseas during their time, and until the reissues came out in the 21st century I had yet to met a European who really knew the band’s work – so really incongruous to see them here. The Flesh Eaters are actually called a “local celebrity supergroup barely known outside of LA county”. My guess: Slash Records wanted to get X and The Blasters heard in the UK. Part of some “deal”, perhaps brokered by Chris himself, was to get Sounds to feature The Flesh Eaters in a story. Who knows? The album still didn’t come out in England, but Chris tells the full saga of his band up through 1981, including the Tooth and Nail compilation, Upsetter Records, playing with Joe from The Eyes in his band and then some. If you can read it, I’ve got photos of it below here.
One thought on “Sounds (November 7th, 1981)”
Jay, that Sounds article was by Sylvie Simmons, who was a fan of the Flesh Eaters and living in LA at the time. We subsequently became friends. I actually thought that Sounds issue was from early ’82, and I thought we had already recorded Forever Came Today, but I may be wrong about that part. Also A Minute to Pray LP WAS released in the UK by a label I think called Independent. I used to have a copy of the UK pressing, but not anymore. It also might’ve come out in Italy I believe ( I’m absolutely positive Forever Came Out in Italy, on Expanded. I used to have a copy of the pressing).
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