Thursday, February 11, 2010


The whole story begins when The Outsiders, all school friends, formed in 1976. Adrian Janes devising what would become the particular apt moniker for the group. The three members had varied tastes in music initially: Adrian Borland (singer, guitarist) being fairly possessed by the Stooges, Velvet Underground and David Bowie, Bob Lawrence (bass) having a more catholic record collection including jazz, Gabriel era Genesis and even classical music, but sharing a love of the jarring atonal nature of the Velvets. Adrian Janes (drums) was excited by the emotional and lyrical power of diverse artists such as John Lennon. Todd Rundgren and soul music. All three saw the glimmers of the punk scene as refreshing and vital with the added attraction that the pseudo-anarchic attitudes of the summer of '76 were a tiny collision with the fact that they were all finished with their state education strait-jacket. No more short hair for us they thought. (but more of that later!)

The first album "Calling On Youth" had already been recorded with the exception of a few track, the title song among them, before any notion of Anarchy in the U.K and the band would admit to a shift of gear and streamlining of sound once the momentum of the moment got underway. However Adrian Borland's intimate, some would say carnal knowledge of the Stooges, already went back three years and the rhythm section could see what he had been raving about endlessly all this time was now definitely worth pursuing. With this responsibility as frontman, singer and guitarist, he steered the band into the narrower channels of his own obsession! The debut L.P released in May 1977 was followed swiftly by the "One to Infinity" EP. By now the band were regulars of the Roxy dressing room and the Vortex toilet, going down fairly well or fairly badly depending more or less on how many Sham 69 fans were in the audience. Managed for a time by Jock "Bollock Brother" McDonald the band won the 1978 Stiff Records Battle of the band fiasco but no deal was forthcoming.

The group remained with the label funded by Adrian Borland's parents (!) Raw Edge - a small profit being made by all concerned. The groups final vinyl bow was "Close Up" which was recorded in the comparatively Hi-Tech Spaceward Studios, Cambridge in the summer of 78. Most other recording had been made in the Borland family front room on a 4 track Teac. The results of the Spaceward sessions were probably the groups most concise statements and hinted at where Adrian Borland would go with his Eighties outfit "THE SOUND" The similarities between the music of the Outsiders and Warsaw an early incarnation of Joy Division are unavoidable and 1977's "Freeway" shows that Joy Division, specifically "Shadow Play" weren't the first band to strike out with variations on Iggy Pop's "The Idiot"! Alienation was the order of these particular days. Drummer Adrian Janes showed robust concern for the coherence and validity of the lyrics. A duty he shared with Borland, Janes contributing the larger amount. He considered words to be an added weapon along with the generally savage tone of guitars and rumble of Bob Lawrence bass. "It's an other area of possibilities let's make the best use of it" was his thrust and lyrically The Outsiders certainly stood apart, at least from most of their contemporaries with the exception of Magazine and a few others. The song "New Uniform" represents a return swipe at a scene which generally exiled them for having grammar school accents and shoulder length hair (the Patti Smith Group and the Ramones were frequently cited by the band in defense against the latter charges.)

The apex of the bands career as far as Adrian Borland was concerned, was the night in 1977 when Iggy Pop jumped down the Roxy Club's stairs and onto the stage to sing the second verse of their faithfully rendered "Raw Power". It could be lightheartedly supposed this has left Adrian Borland forever wondering in the no-mans land between sanity, and the notion that he is some kind of honorary "Stooge". The next song that night was also a cover, "Waiting for the Man" by the Velvets. One person in the small audience wondering aloud whether Lou Reed would now walk on the stage. So, The Outsiders were a facet of Punk that never really fitted. Too literate, probably too musical but vital to Adrian Borland at least in formulating attitudes and an intend that he would carry into the next decade. The band went their separate ways soon after the release of "Close Up" in February 1979 (Graham Bailey joining the band, he is seen in the "Close Up" photographs, before he and Adrian Borland went on to form THE SOUND. But they had made their small but unique contribution to the shock inflicted on a medium that constantly seems on the verge of imminent demise.

Adrian Janes

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