The Adventures - The Sea of Love

The Adventures: “The Sea of Love” Expanded Edition

The frustrating thing about the chart is that while it’s an accurate gauge of record sales – or at least it was until very recently – it doesn’t necessarily reflect talent. It’s not fair, but it’s never been fair. Since the UK singles chart began in 1952, there have been countless acts that deserved success but failed to achieve any, while others scored hit after hit without any discernible trace of musical ability.

So it was with The Adventures, a band from Belfast who, under the auspices of mogul-in-waiting Simon Fuller, signed to Chrysalis in 1984 and scored a few minor hits such as Feel the Raindrops and Send My Heart. Despite the band’s obvious knack for soaring singalong choruses, it took a move to Elektra to finally secure the Adventures a top forty hit. The anthemic Broken Land was all over Radio 1 in the spring of 1988 and began a slow ascent of the singles chart, eventually peaking at number 20 in May. Still not as big as it should have been, but a deserved breakthrough and surely a foot in the door for future success as the band prepared to release its second album The Sea of Love.

Now reissued in an expanded edition by Cherry Red, the album will hold few surprises for you if you’re familiar with the hit single. There are some great songs here – catchy but not cheesy, anthemic without straying into preachy U2 territory – but at times they struggle to breathe beneath the bombastic kitchen-sink production. Every possible inch of the canvas is filled with jangling guitars, chiming pianos, uilleann pipes, layer upon layer of backing vocals, gratuitous key changes and snare drums hit as hard as humanly possible. Nothing strays far from the template laid down by Broken Land, but when it does – on Hold Me Now for example – it just ramps up the grandiosity of the production even further. This isn’t an album you put on in the background; it demands to be listened to at high volume and enjoyed. It’s not until we reach the newly appended bonus tracks that things begin to change: amongst a handful of 7″ edits we find a faithful rendition of John Lennon’s Instant Karma, an acoustic Broken Land and even the Irish folk song The Curragh of Kildare (covered more recently by Dexys on their 2016 album Let the Record Show: Dexys do Irish and Country Soul).

Related:  Off The Chart: 12 May 1988

Alas, as is so often the way, the quality of the record didn’t translate into appropriate levels of appreciation. The booklet’s interview with guitarist and songwriter Pat Gribben reveals that band wanted to release more singles before unleashing the album; they were probably right, but instead Elektra issued it on the back of the hit, with the result that second single Drowning in the Sea of Love struggled to 44 and One Step From Heaven didn’t even reach the top 75. The Adventures never recovered from this; a less overblown third album Trading Secrets With The Moon was a minor success in 1990 and they nudged the singles chart only once more with Raining All Over The World in 1992 after another relocation to Polydor. A terrible shame all round, as The Sea of Love is an excellent album which deserves better. Just remember to give it the attention it commands.

8/10