Friday, 26 November 2010

Sounds of Salvation An interview with Rob Cox

SOUNDS OF SALVATION - An exploration in worship LP (Reflection RL 310)

For those who know me well there's no suprise at my obsession with the Sounds of Salvation album. It's a beguiling album, once heard never forgotten.
I'm very grateful indeed to Rob Cox for the interview he agreed to do regarding the album. Rob co-produced the album and i'm sure that Rob's answers will be of interest to fans of the album; they were certainly enlightening for me and i'd like to thank Rob for sharing this influential moment from his musical past.

An Interview with Rob Cox, November 2010.

Was the Reflection label a collective of Christian Musicians and
how did you first become involved with the label. I assume that the
Sounds of Salvation were not a band as such.

Reflection was a Christian Arts Group comprising musicians, poets, writers, theorists, administrators, lyricists, actors, etc. A more full history can be found at That website was set up by one of
the two Reflection founders, Mike Lehr. Mike sadly died earlier this year as reported in
my blog which
also describes how I became involved. SOS were not a band - just a name given to the
group of Reflection members and non-Reflection members (like John Aldington) who
contributed to the album.

Did the Methodist Missionary Society, who commisioned the album,
give you a strong idea of what they wanted or was it a far looser
arrangement. Were they happy with the results, especially considering
the darker moments.

I don't think the MMS had any idea of what they wanted. 'Salvation' was the theme of a
conference held by (I think) The Council of Churches and the MMS wanted to respond to
that in some way. They expected an album of hymns and songs related to the 'Salvation'
theme and asked Reflection to produce it because they wanted something 'more modern'. My
co-producer, Martin Colley, had no interest in negotiating in committees so I was the guy
who liaised with them on progress at regular intervals. They loved the 'Salvation Hymn'
and pretty much hated everything else!! But because they had no clear idea of what they
collectively wanted they went along with what we were doing. I was also careful to keep
from them some of the more 'extreme' (in those days) elements.

Some of the subjects dealt with on the album seem very Catholic to
me. Were the group of Christians behind the album a mix of different
Christian faiths, or were they predominantly of one Christian faith.

I doubt that any similar organisation has embraced such a wide range of 'christian'
beliefs and views. From evangelicals to free-church to C of E to high church - all were
represented. We embraced views from 'All non-believers go to hell' to 'God is Dead'.
Reflection also included some agnostics and non-believers for good measure!! The fact
that we all got on well, respected each other's views and could work to a common goal was
a great strength.

How many people were involved with the album and did some people
take on multiple roles within the group.

There was a 64-page booklet included with the album and a different group of members
worked on that. It's a pretty wild guess (because I was not involved heavily in the
booklet apart from writing a few things for it) but I would say around 30 - 40 people
were involved. I'm not sure what you mean by 'multiple roles'. I co-produced the album,
wrote some of the songs, played guitar, sang on one track and contributed to the booklet
as well as liaising with the MMS. That felt multiple enough to me!!

Was there any one person who controlled the project or could
everyone contribute equally.

Everyone was encouraged to contribute but not everyone did. Martin and I were in charge
of the recording and a member called Richard Seel was in charge of the booklet.

What do you think makes the Sounds of Salvation album so popular
with a new generation.

I really don't know. Maybe it is just - different - in an age where everything tries to
conform with the latest sound or fad? There was such a conflict between the long-haired
rockers (of which I was one in those days) and the suits and ties of the MMS that what
emerged was a strange (and unsatisfying to both parties at the time) mix. But maybe it
sort of works. Re-visiting it is difficult for me because each track throws up memories
some of which are painful and some of which are frustrating. I'm probably not the person
to answer that question.

How would you describe the album to someone who had never heard it.

Difficult in a few words. As an eclectic mix of sound, song, music and poetry designed to
promote thought and reflection on the world. But if you ask me again tomorrow I will
probably come out with something completely different.

Are many of the musicians involved with the album still in touch
with each other.

Many of us are still in touch although we tend to get together, sadly, at funerals and
60th birthdays and similar!!! I don't get to see Martin as much as I should but I still
regard him as one of my best friends and, when we do meet, we just click as if we'd never
been apart.

How do you, or the others, feel about the album being so popular
with fans who are not Christians.

I'm really cool with that and I think the vast majority of the others would agree!

I know you are very proud of the Sounds of Salvation album. What
part, or aspect, of the album would you hold up with the most pride
and why?

Actually both Martin and I were very disappointed with the album. It was a compromise;
not what we wanted to make; not understood by those who commissioned it. In retrospect I
can appreciate that there are some nice ideas within the album delivered in a powerful
way and that is satisfying. I particularly like the start of the album through the trite
'Jesus is the Rock' into 'Overseers'. Also John's 'Freedom' song which is brilliant!

After SOS, Martin and I got immersed in another project together with another friend of
ours, Chris May. This resulted in the album 'Thursday's Child' which was released on the
Grapevine label. - it
involved a load of Reflection members but the production costs were too high to be born
by Reflection Records.

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