The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

From the outset I must declare that this is one of my favourite albums of all time, just so that you know.


The Sundays formed in the late 1980s and released three albums in the 1990s, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, Blind and Static and Silence. The band’s genesis came with the meeting of singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin at university.  The duo added to the band with bassist Paul Brindley and drummer Patrick Hannan and they quickly secured a recording contract with Rough Trade.

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, released in 1990, was their debut and it reached Number 5 in the UK Album charts, which is a pretty good start I’d say, bolstered by some singles success with the tracks ‘Can’t Be Sure‘ and ‘Here’s where the story ends‘.

Give me a story and give me a bed
Give me possessions
Oh love, luck, and money they go to my head like wildfire
It’s good to have something to live for, you’ll find
Live for tomorrow
Live for a job and a perfect behind, high time

England my country, the home of the free
Such miserable weather
But England’s as happy as England can be
Why cry?

And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
The worst that I can find
And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
But I rely on mine

However, the band has been on a lengthy hiatus since those releases, with Wheeler and Gavurin focusing on raising their two children. In my opinion they should stop doing that, the kids will be fine, kids are very resilient, and start work on a new album and a tour. Also, re-issue the 2nd & 3rd albums, they are bloody expensive right now. Cheapest Blind is £50 and Static & Silence is £60 for an average copy.

I often see on forums and on facebook the request to, ‘Name an album that is good from start to finish’, or variations on that, and this is one of those albums, there isn’t a dud track on it.

The album was recorded in three and a half months and was released by Rough Trade on January 15, 1990 (this was a year after their debut single) and three months later in North America on Geffen’s GDC label.  In November 1989, a few weeks before the release date, Rough Trade provided a brief preview of the album through a freebie flexi single featuring the track I Won via UK music magazine The Catalogue.  On its release the album sold 60,000 copies in the first two weeks which took it to number 4  in the UK album charts. In America it sold over over 500,000 copies and became a top 5 hit on the alternative chart.

For record store day, can’t remember which one, there was a re-release but I have the orignal, which I didn’t buy on release, I bought the cassette and I played it until the tape was just clear plastic! I picked up a copy of the record at a record fair and it is one of the best purchases I’ve made.



A1 Skin & Bones
A2 Here’s Where The Story Ends
A3 Can’t Be Sure
A4 I Won
A5 Hideous Towns
B1 You’re Not The Only One I Know
B2 A Certain Someone
B3 I Kicked A Boy
B4 My Finest Hour
B5 Joy

Rating: 9.8

3 thoughts on “The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic”

  1. I love The Sundays, I had Reading, Writing and Arithmetic on tape. Check out the band Braids *Deep In The Iris” album, really reminds me of The Sundays.


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