A Formal Sigh tonight. I don’t think we’ll ever run out of bands who were criminally overlooked and shamefully underrated during their time together. A Formal Sigh is a case in point. Only together for a little under 2 years, they never got a label deal. Their music was championed by John Peel and some of their tracks were issued by the Merseysound Tapezine. A band that was hard to categorize, yet was vaguely compared to Siouxsie and The Banshees, possibly because of comparisons of Flo Sullivan (aka: Gayna Rose Madder) to Siouxsie Sioux – and maybe the instrumental lineup. Whatever it was, it somehow detracted from the appeal of a band who were several notches above what was happening at the time.
Sadly, they only recorded this one session for John Peel. And aside from a 13-track CD, culling all their demo and radio sessions; A Far Cry by A Formal Sigh, there is precious little else documenting their tenure as a band.
The members did split off into other bands. Flo Sullivan and guitarist Rob Surtees formed Shiny Two Shiny. Flo later went solo, as Gayna Madder Rose. Surtees went off to form Benny Profane (another band of the criminally underrated variety). Drummer Roger Sintek and guitarist/bass player Greg Milton regrouped as their former band Bartel and continued on. Founder and bass player Mark Peters emigrated to Australia.
All in all, not that unusual given the familiarity of the story and circumstances. Still, a good band with some riveting songs to their credit. I can see why John Peel expressed interest in A Formal Sigh – they had all the earmarks of a successful band. Somehow, the audience and the powers-the-be in the music business didn’t see it the same way – although they were gathering a fan base by the time they split. Maybe they were just impatient. All I know is, it happens more frequently than the success stories, and having some evidence of what they were all about is fortunate for everyone. And any band who name themselves after a quote by Ned Rorem is instantly okay in my book. 36 years later, you get to hear why.