The Triffids
Born Sandy Devotional

A Personal View:

Alsy David McComb had high ambitions for The Triffid's second full length album, Born Sandy Devotional.

Up until now we've been making records of
collections of accumulated songs -
this will instead be songs written
FOR an LP record with a theme
a hotch potch of historically compiled songs.
The theme will be unrequited love but the language will reach
way above and beyond that.
David McComb - 1984

I joined the band in early 1985 having met them briefly in 1984 and recorded a mini-album, Lawson Square Infirmary, with most of the members in that year. I had never met anyone quite like David McComb. The musical circles I had moved in until then were much less rich, powerful and all-consuming. The songs seemed to flow naturally from David though, in reality, he applied himself to the task of writing with a dedication perhaps best described as obsessive. On stage or in the studio he commanded and deserved attention. Off stage he was thoughtful, generous, humorous, incisive. He seemed special. And he wanted to be special. In his lyric writing and the musical framework he needed for those lyrics, he demanded that everything be extraordinary. No retreaded riffs, lazy lyrics or crap calypso would be tolerated.
The songs for Born Sandy were assembled over a period of 18 turbulent months or so. Turbulence seemed to follow David at the time and from it came many a classic song. David had assembled a band he thought had a unique sound. We were no virtuosos but we were open to creating the kind of atmospheric underpinning the songs needed. We began rehearsing new songs and trying them out in public. Some underwent a transformation on stage, others were too fragile to ever be played live, some never made it out of the rehearsal room, some never made it to the rehearsal room. In his spare time behind closed doors Dave was still hard at work refining lines, working on new songs that might be better than the old but as yet unrecorded ones, listening to new music and jotting down reference points he thought he might be able to use, making endless lists of album titles and song titles, reading voraciously and widely and wrestling with insomnia (bad television and alcohol sometimes did the trick).
Listening to Born Sandy today, especially in its invigorated remastered state, I think back to the sessions through the haze of years and much is forgotten. The basics are easy. It was recorded in Mark Angelo Studio near Farringdon Station in London over a period of a couple of weeks or so. Gil Norton produced and Nick Mainsbridge engineered. It was then mixed in Amazon Studios in Liverpool. We knew Nick from Australia and Gil had worked with the Bunnymen, not that any of us were particular fans of that band. He, of course, went on to make his name with the Pixies and is still a sought after producer. Nick produced Dave's only solo CD many years later.
We had to set Alsy Macdonald up with his drumkit in an empty warehouse next to the basement studio as MA had no drum booth. There he sat all alone with no line of visual contact for the first three days as drum and bass tracks were put down. Recording of drums ceased at six out of deference to the neighbours.
Born Sandy also marked the beginning of a lengthy creative relationship between Dave and Adam Peters, who played cello and helped out with string arrangements.

I could go on bringing up assorted trivia (and I may at some stage) but listening to it now I'm struck by a few things.
Born Sandy
has possibly the best opening moment of any record I've heard as Dave's vocal comes straight in on the first lines of The Seabirds - No foreign pair of dark sunglasses could ever shield you from/ the light that pierces your eyelids the screaming of the gulls....
This is no ordinary song and this is so because Dave took a stand against the ordinary. He didn't care that we were recording a song that couldn't be easily reproduced on stage, he didn't care that it took him six months or more to write the defining couplet in the song -
She said what's the matter now lover boy has the cat run off with your tongue
Are you drinking to get maudlin or are you drinking to get numb?

He didn't care that that couplet kept him awake at nights, but he cared that, once it was in place, he had an extraordinary song to open an extraordinary record.
Graham Lee - 2006


All the other rock is howling around, picking the sand out of its eyes, and The Triffids, on this hurricane form, make it look like a swarmk of legless lizards. They've evidently taken their time, but unleash their true masterpiece when their nearest rivals clog their own arteries with pomp and frigid pretentiousness. Leaving a note on the fridge, The Triffids cap their climax with a lyrical wall and a mercurial lacing of melody.
Tapping out their oaths in rich words and cured kisses of harmony, they stampede back with the best, most brilliantly brusque LP of the year so far. They make the human verb rain thunder and it's almost a miracle.
Sounds - Jonh Wilde

After years of getting there, The Triffids have at last delivered what they've long promised: Born Sandy Devotional is a masterpiece....
Music, after all, expresses that which lies beyond words; and this is music of an order to be taken seriously...
Born Sandy Devotional boldly reoccupies the territory rock has abandoned in its retreat into self obsession, and so throws down the challenge to the rest of the field. Have you the imagination to accept?
NME - Mat Snow

At last somebody's released Born Sandy Devotional, which was finished nearly a year ago but has been bouncing around between dithering record companies ever since. God knows why because it's a classic, 10 songs of love and life in a hostile sub-tropical landscape. David McComb wrote the lot and it's a substantial achievement. His lyrics display real writer's insight, and mould imperceptibly to his unhurried melodies....
In The Seabirds, he explores a drowning love affair in a song so vivid it resembles a short story with pictures.
I'll have worn my copy out soon. What more can I tell you?
Melody Maker - Adam Sweeting

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