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Destiny Stopped Screaming – The Life And Times Of Adrian Borland. Book – by Simon Heavisides.

Destiny Stopped Screaming – The Life And Times Of Adrian Borland. By Simon Heavisides.

Much has already been written about legendary post-punk act, The Sound. With their enigmatic frontman, Adrian Borland, the London-based band genuinely were, to hijack a well-worn cliché, one of the UKs best kept secrets – classic ‘also-rans’ who ‘should have been massive’ yet were thwarted by the vagaries of the music industry. Adrian formed The Sound in 1979, the same year, incidentally, that Unknown Pleasures was released. Two decades later he would end his own life on the railway near his Wimbledon home. He had been battling with mental illness for many years.

You probably know all of this. Every few years a magazine like Uncut or Mojo will publish an article on The Sound, often coinciding with an album anniversary. You’ll regularly see quotes along the lines of The Sound putting The Bunnymen, U2 or even Joy Division ‘in the shade’ – bombast and rhetoric but with the very best of intentions. Like us, those journalists merely wish to ensure that Adrians music gets on the map and stays there. To that end there have also been album re-releases, box sets, tribute concerts, a documentary and now for the first time, this in-depth biography by Simon Heavisides.

Destiny Stopped Screaming is only the second book about Borland and effectively the first real biography. Drawing upon many first-hand accounts including surviving band members, collaborators, friends, family as well as his own personal experiences of meeting Adrian, Heavisides’ book is a sympathetic yet unflinching account of Borlands life, career and untimely death. The research that has gone into this work is meticulous resulting in a compelling account of a complex individual. This is no, Factory-style attempt to mythologize Adrian or to romanticise his death. Heavisides, as he explained to us at the launch event in Netherlands, decided to take a straight bat to all aspects of Borlands life, his incendiary talent, triumphs, missteps, label disputes, mental health issues and of course his eventual suicide. This book is the in-depth Panorama episode compared to the broad news headlines of those aforementioned articles – it puts flesh and blood upon the bones of what we knew, or thought we knew, about Adrian Borland.

Adrians music did not remain confined within the doom-laden amber of early eighties reverb. It evolved to encompass synthpop, stadium rock, angst and even dreampop. Whilst it is natural to compare Borland to Ian Curtis, I think a closer reference might be Stuart Adamson of Big Country. Just like Stuart, Adrian received the lion’s share of his fleeting critical acclaim at the beginning of his bands career. Both men wrote, sang and played lead guitar. Both had been in previous bands. Both continued making wonderful music long after the UKs fickle, fashion-centric gaze had turned away. Both were prone toward heavy drinking at times and of course both men tragically ended their own lives.

Big Country’s music still lives on today. Superb live shows are authenticated by the inclusion of surviving original members. The same is true of In2TheSound, the band helmed by The Sound original drummer, Mike Dudley. What we have been sorely lacking is this book. You see, a lot may have been written about The Sound but far too little has really been written about Adrian himself. Behind the myth, behind the music there was a man – an actual person who was warm, intelligent and funny as well as all of that rock stuff. Heavisides’ hefty tome gives us what the Adamson book failed to, namely honest insights into the multi-faceted, real human being at the heart of it all. It is an exhaustive, excellent and, for fans like me, essential read.

Destiny Stopped Screaming is available now via Amazon, Sounds Haarlem or even directly from Jean-Paul van Mierlo. See links provided. If you use Amazon it sure helps everyone involved a lot if you leave a review there. Venue photo by Carine Hubrechts. Exhibition photo by Martijn Prins.

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