Not to be confused with the Cleveland-based band that enjoyed a hit with "Time Won't Let Me" in 1966, the Outsiders were one of the first bands on the British punk scene to commit their sounds to vinyl. Boasting an edgy but decisively rocking sound that was influenced by the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, and the Doors, the Outsiders predated many of the bands that codified the U.K. punk sound, which was a blessing and a curse; while their music had a personality that set them apart from the many bands that would follow them, they soon found they didn't sound "punk" enough for fans who jumped on the bandwagon in the wake of the Sex Pistols and the Clash.
Outsiders were formed by guitarist and lead singer Adrian Borland, who was attending school in 1975 when he decided to put together a group with bassist Bob Lawrence and drummer Adrian James. Originally titled Syndrome, Borland's new trio changed its name in 1976, inspired by the Albert Camus novel The Outsider. By this time, Borland was a regular at one of London's original punk venues, the 100 Club, and had begun playing out as the first wave of U.K. punk began to spread; one Outsiders show in 1977 was attended by Iggy Pop, who enjoyed the band so much he hopped on-stage to sing with the band. Embracing the D.I.Y. philosophy before many of their peers, the Outsiders began recording at Borland's home, with his father, a physicist and amateur recording engineer, springing for a semi-pro recording setup. After Virgin Records rejected the Outsiders' first demos, Borland's father agreed to bankroll pressing and releasing an album, and in May 1977, Calling on Youth became the first D.I.Y. punk LP released in England, appearing on the Outsiders' own Raw Edge label. Six months later, the Outsiders released a follow-up EP, One to Infinity. While both records were modestly successful, neither was truly a hit, and the Outsiders' eclectic sound didn't always fare well with critics, who questioned the group's punk credibility on the basis of their hair length and occasional use of acoustic guitars.
Outsiders decided to move up to a professional recording studio for their next LP, Close Up, which they once again released through Raw Edge in March 1979, but between a failed deal with another label to issue the single "Vital Hours" and Borland's growing dissatisfaction with the increasingly monochromatic U.K. punk scene, the group wasn't destined to last much longer. Six months after the release of Close Up, the Outsiders were history, and Borland had assembled the first lineup of his more ambitious post-punk group, the Sound. The Sound would go on to release five albums and become critical favorites without landing a breakthrough hit before their 1987 breakup. Borland then formed Adrian Borland & the Citizens, performing with them up until his death in 1999.