The Sports


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Although Australia's the Sports made a sizeable global impact with their second album, Don't Throw Stones (1979), by the time Sondra was released in 1981, the band sounded spent and unfocused. Heading into the studio with producer Cameron Allan may not have been the wisest choice for them, either. Although Allan had previous success with Icehouse and Mental as Anything (to name a couple), his production skills were usually muddy and lifeless at best. When you take a band with manic vocalist Stephen Cummings, and talented songwriter/guitarists like Martin Armiger and Andrew Pendelbury, you need to give the band plenty of space to express themselves musically. Allan's production not only reined in the band's considerable talent, it stifled any energy and excitement that they may have had. On the other hand, it's wrong to put the blame entirely on Allan's shoulders, since this was the band's weakest collection of songs to date. The Sports' best songs used to click the moment they came blaring from the record player, but on this platter, just a handful of songs leapt from the speakers into the listener's lap. Only "This Is Really Something," "How Come," "Softly, Softly," and "Lucky Shop" possessed the magic of old, although "Stop the Baby Talking," "Face the Tiger," and "Black Stockings for Chelsea" came close. Cummings still sounded confident, but ultimately seemed detached from the material, as if he was already going through the motions. Perhaps he was already planning his escape to a solo career, which came to fruition when the band split up shortly after this album was released. This is not a horrible record; it's just not up to the standards of their previous three albums.