Many of us know Gordon Sharp as the man (or woman?) behind the nightmarishly atmospheric band Cindytalk. Many of us also know him for his sublime vocal performance on This Mortal Coil’s masterful debut LP “It’ll End In Tears.” But, what many of us do not know is that shortly before these two stunning achievements Gordon fronted another band, a band fixed in UK’s booming punk movement, with a reputation for being refreshingly unpredictable and cleverly daring, this band was four-piece unit called The Freeze.
The Freeze formed in 1976 and initially consisted of Gordon Sharp (vocals), David Clancy (guitar), Keith Grant (bass), and Graeme Radin (drums). (Later line-ups would see the addition of a guitarist/saxophonist/clarinetist Tony Wallis, alternate drummer/keyboardist Neil Braidwood and alternate bassist Mike Moran.) The band was active from 1976 to 1982, gigging continuously throughout their homeland of Scotland, and supporting a wide range of acts, from the likes of Sham 69 to Echo & The Bunnymen. On stage they were quite the lively bunch - with an unusually diverse spectrum of sound, glam-punk gender-bending theatrics, and a knack for random song improvisation - it was a package that often left onlookers enthusiastically scratching their heads in astonishment.
The group had two official releases – 1979’s debut 7-inch EP In Colour, and 1980’s 7-inch single Celebration, both of which were self-financed on their own A1 label. And although The Freeze would prove that they undoubtedly had both the musical talent and vision needed to propel their name into the greater new wave market, it was their eclectic and unpredictable nature that ultimately barred them from capturing proper label interest. Not to say their wasn't any interested… John Peel noticed the band and in late 1980 invited them to do their first BBC radio session, followed by another session in 1981, both of which have yet to see any official release. By 1982 Gordon had become increasingly dissatisfied with the confines of the band’s musical format, wishing to instead give focus to more experimental song structures, a desire which eventually lead him to forge a new union with fellow core-member David Clancy, move to London and change the band’s name to Cindytalk.
“mostly, i loved being in the freeze. everybody pulled their weight and we all complimented each other. i preferred the classic line-up of course (clancy, grant, radin, sharp) but neil braidwood and mike moran were excellent too. personally i'd have been happier if we'd collectively been a bit more into the edgier punk and post punk music of the time, ultimately that was what forced me to rip it up and start again with cindytalk BUT i loved the freeze and have no real regrets with it all. including walking away from duran duran, well, especially that...” –Gordon Sharp
So here it is, two parts prickly pop punk and one part foreboding postpunk, The Freeze’s crucial debut 3-track EP In Colour. Upon pressing play we are immediately thrust into the youthful power rocker “Paranoia”, which, with its aggressive yet rhythmic framework and snotty vocals, bares a certain resemblance to material by politic punksters like Cult Maniax. This is followed up by “For JPS” which has a similar style and pace, albeit more playful, with stop n’ go progression and an arsenal of bouncy guitar chords to lighten the mood. The third and final track “Pychodalek Nightmares” is my favorite of the bunch. At nearly 6 minutes long, reverberating guitar sizzles to life as Gordon reasons with paranoid illusions in a New Romantic vocal style while distant cries of a lone violin serenade the mood into a deep, peaceful freeze.
THE FREEZE – In Colour (EP 1979)
- For JPS
- Psychodalek Nightmares
Unfortunately, I've been unable to find a copy of the band's second release. Any hands?