Home

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (3)

1 Comment

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MONDAY 16 JUNE 2008

(and again on 6 November 2013)

r-371182-1330487001

From January 1982.

It reached the giddy heights of #63 in the UK pop charts.

This is the sound of happiness. On a double A side 7″ single.

I really don’t think I need say anymore….

mp3 : Orange Juice – Felicity
mp3 : Orange Juice – In A Nutshell

PS

The irony here is that my favourite Orange Juice single, while sung by Edwyn Collins was in fact written by fellow band-member James Kirk.

Hence the William Shatner reference in this cover version:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Felicity

Many years later, James did his own great version of the song:-

mp3 : James Kirk – Felicity

PPS

Little did I know, when I originally penned this post in 2008 that I would later be contacted by Domino Records and asked to fill in a few gaps as part of their background work as to what should and shouldn’t be included in the Coals To Newcastle, the result of which I was one of a number of people thanked in the sleevenotes. That’s the most rock’n’roll thing that’ll ever likely happen in my life…….

SHAKE YOUR BODY DOWN TO THE GROUND

2 Comments

theme-disco-ball-club-dj-resolution

D.I.S.C.O. does not suck…..as publicly said by Edwyn & co in the notes that accompanied the vinyl release of the LP Ostrich Churchyard back in 1992:-

Satellite City

Written in the aftermath of an early Nu-Sonics concert (17th January 1978) supporting British reggae outfit Steel Pulse and much to our chagrin, an embryonic Simple Minds at the Satellite City disco in the clouds (above the Apollo). For a long time this was referred to as the ‘Disco Song’ in part homage to Chic’s ‘Dance Dance Dance – Yowsah! Yowsah! Yowsah!’

Intuition Told Me Parts 1 + 2

During this period I would frequently open Orange Juice sets alone with my Gretch ‘Black-hawk’ guitar for company and very nervously perform Intuition Told Me part 1 before being joined by the group for the now more obscure part 2. I suppose now is as good a time as any to reveal that “Did I mention in the first verse….” was a direct lift from ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’ a female duo from Spain.

Ergo…..it is acceptable to equally like jingly-jangly Caledonia pop and the sort of music that led to packed floors directly under mirrorballs.

mp3 : Orange Juice – Satellite City
mp3 : Chic – Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah) (12 inch version)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Intuition Told Me (Part 1)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Intuition Told Me (Part 2)
mp3 : Baccara – Yes Sir I Can Boogie

Enjoy

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #57 : ORANGE JUICE

10 Comments

p01bqr7r

It’s been 18 months since I made an effort for an Imaginary Compilation Album for Edwyn Collins. It’s been 18 months that I’ve been putting off having a stab at an ICA for Orange Juice.

The dilemma here is that the band, despite only releasing records over a five-year period between 1980 and 1984, have three quite distinct periods to take into consideration. In the beginning was Postcard and its four singles (as well as an album that finally saw light of day in October 1992), as well as the debut album on Polydor. Then you have the mid-period when two of the original members left the band just as it finally enjoyed its brief dalliance with chart fame. Finally, there’s the time when the records came out under the name of the band but were, in effect, the first Edwyn’s solo recordings. I could very easily have three ICAs for each period but that would be cheating.

So here we go, with what I have decided should be called ‘The Sound Of Happiness’.

SIDE A

1. Felicity (single, 1982)

A #63 smash hit in the UK charts. Written by James and sung by Edwyn. It probably came to far more people’s attention a few years later when David sang lead vocal when his band The Wedding Present included it within a Peel Session. James himself would then cover it on his sole solo LP in 2003. I finally got to hear it played live in June 2013 when Vic Godard sang it during a set in Glasgow when he was joined on stage by its composer (now there was a ‘wow’ moment in my gig-going career).

One of the greatest bits of pop music of all time with a killer hook and chorus. It’s my favourite ever 45 from a Scottish band. It was a no-brainer for the opening track of the ICA and for the studio version refrain to supply an imaginary title. But, for a change, I’ve decided to go with the version recorded for a BBC Radio 1 session – it was the Richard Skinner show in January 1981 – and which was finally made available on the Coals To Newcastle box set in 2010 in which said refrain is missing!

2. What Presence?! (12” single, 1984)

For all that the early material is the stuff that everyone considers to be the most influential on the growth and development of indie-pop (and I won’t argue against that being a fact), I’m a sucker for the swan song material on the final album. By now it was just Edwyn from the original line-up albeit Zeke had been the drummer since 1982 (and whose talents were also being utilised by the likes of Matt Johnson and Paul Weller).

The lead-off single from the final LP climbed to the giddy heights of #47 – a few more thousand sales and we may well have been treated to what I’m sure would have been a legendary Top of The Pops appearance. Edwyn’s baritone vocal showed that he’s been paying attention to how his good mate Paul Quinn treated a song.

3. Blue Boy (7” single, 1980)

Falling and Laughing may have been the debut but Blue Boy has proven to be the most enduring and enjoyable single from the Postcard era. And surely the greatest song to ever make use of the word ‘gabardine’.

The unexpected appearance of an organ just short of two minutes in adds to the charm of this otherwise noisy and frantic guitar frenzy.

4. Consolation Prize (LP track, 1980/1982)

Glasgow has long ‘enjoyed’ a reputation for being a tough town built on the blood, sweat and toil of heavy and grimy industries. Until Orange Juice came on the scene, all of the local bands played music which veered towards the hard end of the music spectrum. They would never dream of writing songs about wearing fringes in tributes to a 60s singer or that a bloke is considering buying women’s clothing. As for admitting that they will never be man enough for anything??……………don’t even go there.

Camp, comic and cool. With the sort of few-notes guitar solo that made punk music so enjoyable and got on the nerves of those whose music veered towards the hard end of the music spectrum. I’ve included the Postcard version rather than that which appeared on You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever simply on the basis that it lasts about 25seconds longer and has a really weird note two seconds in!

5. I Can’t Help Myself (7” single, 1982)

The old adage of ‘musical differences’ had been was cited when Steven and James left the band after the debut album but in this instance it was the truth. This left Edwyn and David to take things forward, augmented by the fantastically talented Malcolm Ross and a Zimbabwe-born drummer called Zeke Manyika but the initial fruits of their labour – the double-sided single of Two Hearts Together/Hokoyo – was a huge disappointment and nothing like any of the old songs. It was a worrying time.

All fears however, were banished when the next single hit the shops. A lyric in which Edwyn admitted he was concerned about the future delivered over probably the most danceable and funky tune the band ever recorded. The 12″ version is one of the few instances when an extended sax solo is appropriate…..sadly, my copy jumps a bit a couple of times and so you will all have to make do with the 7″ version.

SIDE B

1. Intuition Told Me (b-side 1981 & LP track 1982)

In which I cheat and sneak an extra song onto the album.

Intuition Told Me So is a song of two distinct halves.  Part 1 (which is just 69 seconds long) was put on the debut album while Part 2 (clocking in at a shade over 3 mins) came out as the b-side to L.O.V.E. Love.  The original and superior versions didn’t appear until 1992 when Ostrich Churchyard was released (this is what the debut album would have sounded like if it had come out on Postcard instead of Polydor). It’s those that I’ve gone for in this  wonderful sing-a-long call and response in respect of fun beginning when the whining stops.

2. Out For The Count (b-side 1984)

As I’ve said before, the ICAs that I pull together won’t necessarily be the best or indeed my favourite ten songs as the idea is to create an album that works well as a stand-alone item. Thus it is time to include the first version of Out For The Count.

This is proof that Orange Juice had come a long way in a short period of time, or I suppose more accurately that Edwyn’s song writing abilities had done so. A track driven along by an upbeat organ sound but inexplicably left off the mini-LP Texas Fever and used instead as the b-side of the single Bridge. Purists who longed for the jingly-jangly guitars were probably appalled but I was intrigued and delighted. New guitar bands such as The Smiths were now on the block and so it seemed right that Edwyn sought to deliver a different sort of sound to keep things moving along. A slower and most wistful version of the song would later be re-recorded for the final LP.

3. Three Cheers For Our Side (Peel Session, August 1981)

It just wouldn’t be right to not include a lead vocal from James on this ICA.

One of the criticisms of the debut album is that the production moved away from the original spirit of the band with, for instance, the use of female backing singers being seen as gimmicky and unnecessary. This is certainly true in the LP version of Three Cheers For Our Side.

But what annoys me more than anything else though, is this use of professional backing singers exacerbates the fragility of James as a lead singer and makes him sound a bit ridiculous. Much better to go back a few months to the version recorded for their second and final John Peel session (later BBC appearances would be with David ‘Kid’ Jensen) in which, probably for the last ever time (until the 90s re-releases) they sounded as if they were on Postcard and not a major.

4. Falling and Laughing (single, 1980)

The indie equivalent of the pelvis doing That’s All Right (Mama) or the Fab Four hitting payola with Love Me Do. A genuine break-through moment in the history of popular music. Y’know, I think I’ve just found the area I’d like to study if I was going for a PhD….

5. In A Nutshell (LP track, 1982)

Having had a go about the backing singers ruining Three Cheers, it is only right to acknowledge that they turn this song from the Postcard era into an absolute epic. Interesting too that the very first OJ post break-up compilation was named after the track that had closed the debut album. The final minute after the vocals come to an end is magical and, to quote another song that didn’t quite make this particular cut, it’s so audacious.

Now let me get the songs posted before I change my mind again.

mp3 : Orange Juice – Felicity
mp3 : Orange Juice – What Presence?!
mp3 : Orange Juice – Blue Boy
mp3 : Orange Juice – Consolation Prize
mp3 : Orange Juice – I Can’t Help Myself
mp3 : Orange Juice – Intuition Told Me (Part 1)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Intuition Told Me (Part 2)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Out For The Count
mp3 : Orange Juice – Three Cheers For Our Side
mp3 : Orange Juice – Falling and Laughing
mp3 : Orange Juice – In A Nutshell

And building on what The Robster did with his wonderful ICA for St Etienne, here it is as as two sides of an LP.

mp3 : The Sound Of Happiness (Side A)
mp3 : The Sound Of Happiness (Side B)

ENJOY!!!!

MY FAVOURITE EVER CASSETTE ALBUM

5 Comments

R-3387139-1341312444-9046.png
A reader made a passing comment the other week about going out of his/her way to purchase a cassette version of an album simply to pick up an extra otherwise unavailable track. That got me thinking back to late 1984 and the release of The Orange Juice, the fourth* and what turned out to be the final studio album by Orange Juice.

* Yes, I know the sleeve states it was (the third album) but I’m one of those who counts Texas Fever, a mini-LP released earlier in 1984 as an OJ album.

In many ways this was really the first ever Edwyn Collins solo album. By now the band had collapsed within itself and Edwyn only had Zeke Manyika for permanent company and so guest musicians were brought in for the recording sessions, most notably Clare Kenny (ex Amazulu) on bass while legendary dub reggae producer Dennis Bovell, who was behind the desk for the record, added his keyboard skills.

The ten tracks on the album are actually, and this might be sacrilegious on my part, among the best songs that were ever attributed to Orange Juice. Yes, they are a long long way from the rough and ready screechy/jangly guitar indie pop of the Postcard era but there’s a real quality about many of the songs that can be attributed to Edwyn’s continually improving song-writing abilities and quite honestly, if this had been a band’s debut album then the world would have sat up and taken huge notice instead of being dismissed in a whim of huge indifference. By now, Edwyn and Zeke knew that the game was up  and that many at Polydor Records had lost patience with the band but in one last brilliant hurrah they managed to get budgets for promo videos (with What Presence?! being directed by the acclaimed Derek Jarman) and what can only be described as some very tongue-in-cheek television advertising.

They also convinced the label to issue the record on what was then standard vinyl and cassette but that the latter should have the 10-track LP on one side while the other should became home to seven songs in what was described as the original 12” mix format. The outcome, rather unusually, was that the cassette format outsold the vinyl format but overall not in enough quantities to have the album make the UK charts.

And that would have been a total travesty and a thoroughly wretched way for the band’s career to come to a close but thankfully the thirty years since have been very kind to Orange Juice and they are probably better known and certainly better loved and appreciated than they ever were in their heyday.

I’d love to offer all seven tracks as they appeared on the cassette but sadly I don’t have the technology to make the transitions from tape to mp3. But I will take what I have from vinyl and CD and do something:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – I Can’t Help Myself (12” vinyl)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Rip It Up (12” version)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Love Sick (re-recording from Rip It Up single )
mp3 : Orange Juice – Flesh Of My Flesh (12” mix)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Out For The Count (alt mix from Texas Fever sessions)
mp3 : Orange Juice – What Presence?! (12” mix)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Lean Period (12” vinyl dub version)

To be honest, I find this mix of Flesh of My Flesh bordering on the unlistenable thanks to the annoying use of effects and gimmicks that take away any sense of rhythm or tempo. And to be completely honest, even the shortened 7” version of the song is one of my least favourite OJ recordings…..I just could never take to it.

But hey…..dig that extra guitar break instead of the harmonica in the middle of What Presence?! Sheer class…………….

Oh and its a fresh ‘rip’ of I Can’t Help Myself that has eliminated what was a jump when it appeared on the blog previously.

Enjoy

TELL ME WHEN THE FUN BEGINS

1 Comment

R-376409-1249154607.jpegR-638978-1326107819.jpeg

Oh, how we can giggle now at the picture sleeves, but did Edwyn Collins ever think his rig-out of jacket, collar and tie, red shorts, white socks and brogues were remotely hip? Or even fey???

Postcard Records had come and gone, but the wish of its founder Alan Horne that all the bands should find fame and fortune with major labels seemed set to come true.

Orange Juice had signed to Polydor Records, but we were all delighted to see that the debut single still had the word POSTCARD printed above the Polydor symbol and indeed the famous drumming kitten was also very prominent on both the sleeve and label. Edwyn, James, Stephen and David hadn’t sold out after all……

But what’s this…a song written by Green/Mitchell/Hodges? Have they recorded a cover or is it some sort of writing team attached to their new home??

mp3 : Orange Juice – L.O.V.E…love

OK, I quickly learned that it was a cover of a song by Al Green, but being the uber-indie post-punk 18 year-old, I didn’t know that at the time (in fact I wasn’t really aware who Al Green was given he’d barely had a hit in the UK).

I wasn’t sure what to make of this record at the time. In fact I was a bit disappointed with it in many ways as it seemed awfully polished. It even had horns on it when all I wanted was guitars. Thankfully, as I aged, so did my tastes improve and while I still won’t place it in all time Top 20 of OJ songs, I do tap my feet, nod my head from side to side and croon along whenever it plays.

Tell you something though, the b-side was an instant smash:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – Intuition Told Me (Pt 2)

What wasn’t there to love about a song that contained the lines?

Please, please
Tell me when the fun begins
Please, please
As soon as you stop your whining Jim

And I whined a lot in those days. Still do in fact. And I’m happy to confess that Intuition Told Me (Pt 2) is still a song that I rank among the Top 2 the band ever recorded……and the best one that Edwyn ever wrote for them.

Polydor had high hopes for Orange Juice. I’m guess they were staggered by the fact that it stuck at #65 in the charts on its release in October 1981.

Oh, the sleeves above? The camp one is the 7″ and the other is the 12″. What do you mean you need a better explanation than that??

Here’s the instrumental that was available on the 12″:-

mp3: Orange Juice – Moscow

This was a re-recorded and more polished version of the song that was originally put on the b-side of Falling and Laughing.  It was, at the time, a much sought-after piece of music and one of the reasons I bought the 12″ in the first place!!

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE…….

Leave a comment

johnpeel141106w

……..will return next week.  There’s a piece of plastic that should be getting featured this week but I seemed to have filed it away in the wrong place and it will take a bit of time to find it and convert the vinyl to a new mp3 (a previous conversion to mp3 is unsatisfactory as I missed the first few seconds on one of the two tracks).

In the meantime, here’s a John Peel Session to enjoy:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – Dying Day
mp3 : Orange Juice – Holiday Hymn
mp3 : Orange Juice – Three Cheers For Our Side
mp3 : Orange Juice – Blokes on 45

Recorded on 3 August 1981 and broadcast seven days later. The last of these tracks is very silly indeed…..

SIMPLY THRILLED : THE PREPOSTEROUS STORY OF POSTCARD RECORDS by SIMON GODDARD

6 Comments

6a00d83451cbb069e201a73d8f3697970d

All three previous books on pop music written by Simon Goddard have been a delight to read and so I was bursting with excitement and anticipation approaching the release of his endeavours to tell the story of Postcard Records .
As someone who is old-fashioned enough to still want to walk into a shop to buy things rather than go on-line, I set out on a tour of book stores across Glasgow on the supposed day of publication only to find none had been delivered, although very helpfully I was informed some book and record shops were expecting copies in time for Record Store Day on Saturday 19 April.

Sadly, this didn’t prove to be the case.  I could have gone to a personal appearance by the author the following day and picked up a copy but couldn’t reschedule pre-arranged plans.  On Easter Monday the shops were closed, and come Tuesday and Wednesday I was too busy with work to find time to get into the city centre shops.  Thankfully, the late night openings on Thursday allowed me to take care of things. All that pent-up energy waiting to see what was behind the wonderfully designed cover led me to read the first few pages on the train home rather than do the usual thing of getting lost in music.

It was a strange introduction in that a short but informative prologue told the tragic story of Louis Wain, the Victorian and Edwardian era artist whose drumming cat became the symbol adopted by Postcard.  It’s only a short journey from the city centre to my home…just enough time to read the seven-page prologue and whet my appetite for what was to follow.

Over the course of the next two nights, interspersed by a particularly tiring and troublesome day at the office, I devoured the remaining 240 pages of the book.  And I woke up on Saturday morning feeling a bit iffy and sick as if I’d eaten something that was a bit off.

It pains me to say it but Simply Thrilled : The Preposterous Story of Postcard Records was a bit of a let-down. I’m not saying it’s a badly written or boring book – far from it – but the sense of excitement and anticipation of the chase of getting my hands on a copy was far greater than what I felt as I turned its pages.

The fault lies with the way the author has gone about the task.  The publicity material churned out by the publishers says:-

“This is the preposterous true story of Postcard Records, the renegade label which, with its mad DIY ethic, kickstarted the 1980s’ indie music revolution. From its riotous punk origins to the intertwining sagas of Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and cult heroes Josef K, this is how they took on and triumphed over the London ‘music biz’ big boys, against all odds. Acclaimed music writer Simon Goddard has interviewed everyone involved in the making of the legend of Postcard Records. The result is a giddy farce involving backstabbing, ‘Arthur Atrocious’, gluttony, heartbreak, ‘Disco Harry’, cheap speed, ‘Janice Fuck’, disillusion, Victorian lunatics and knickerbocker glories. But it’s also the story of creating something beautiful from nothing, against all the odds.”

Simon Goddard has interviewed everyone and has seemingly taken everything they said at face value and published it.  He himself knows such an approach is risky – in the foreword to the book he says what follows is a fairy-tale and not a documentary. He admits that many people’s recollections contradicted one another while others were distorted for what could be any of a number of reasons.

So what we get is a book which feels too much of an in-joke in which the main protagonists tell the story as they want it to be remembered and which, understandably, puts them in the best possible light.  This book isn’t really the story of Postcard Records – it’s more the like one of those projects in which people are asked to give their memories of a time and a place – in this instance Glasgow in the late 70s and early 80s – for a talented writer to record for posterity. I do admire the tenacity of the author in getting the notoriously reclusive Alan Horne, the brains behind the whole Postcard venture, to speak to him in such depth.

It’s quite clear that Simon and Alan spent countless hours together and there can be no argument that the mogul has a treasure-chest of wonderful anecdotes, many of which are embellished throughout the book.  But such is the size of the shadow cast by Alan Horne that I can’t help but feel that the story would have been better told as an authorized biography of his life and times rather than having others come in and say completely contradictory things and so confuse matters.

In terms of the music, the main focus is on Orange Juice and Josef K which is fair enough given that between them they accounted for around three-quarters of the material released on the label.  And while the chapter on the Go-Betweens is one of the most enjoyable in the book  – Glasgow must have seemed like a strange and alien planet to Grant McLennan and Robert Foster – the dearth of material on Aztec Camera is a bitter disappointment.  They don’t feature until well into the book and there’s not actually all that much said about them.

It’s almost as if this version of the story of Postcard comes to a crashing halt at the time Orange Juice decamped to a major label and Josef K called it quits in the aftermath of one disastrous gig too many in a Glasgow discotheque in August 1981. It certainly reads to me that Roddy Frame was signed to the label only because it allowed it to boast of having a 16-year old wunderkid on the books rather than the label owner actually liking his music.  As such, it is no real surprise that Alan Horne makes no real effort to make a star out of Roddy.

Simon Goddard admits he has written a preposterous tale which means he hasn’t been able to come up with the definitive story of Postcard Records. And therein lies my disappointment in his latest book. In saying all of this, I am glad I bought Simply Thrilled.   It has a number of  very funny and outrageous tales although whether they are true or not is another matter.

It is also a reminder that the Glasgow of the late 70s and early 80s was not the greatest place in the world if you dared to be different and a bit of a dreamer.  It was a conservative city in its outlook and its attitudes and all too often those traits made it a dangerous and frightening place for flamboyant and confrontational characters like Alan Horne and Edwyn Collins.

The book ends at the point in time when Alan Horne  gets the opportunity to set up Swamplands as part of the London Records empire.  How that came about is one of the best and loveliest stories in the entire book….but to say anything more would be to spoil things.

I think I can however, get away with quoting, in full, the afterword:- “So when is your book ending? Just with Postcard? Those were sort of my normal years compared to what came after.  Seriously, the real nuttiness was when I went down to London.  That’s a whole different soap opera of insanity there. Another story. God! That’s a whole other book…”   – ALAN HORNE Here’s hoping.

It’s not that long since I posted all of the Postcard singles on the blog, so today I’ll link in a few alternative takes, all inspired by the book:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – Felicity (flexi version)

(recorded April 1979 at an Edinburgh concert on a low-fi cassette by Malcolm Ross; made available on flexidisc with copies of Falling & Laughing as well as various fanzines)

mp3 : Josef K – Heaven Sent

(recorded for a Peel session in June 1981; given a posthumous release as a single in 1987 by which time Paul Haig had re-recorded it in a completely different style at the outset of his solo career. Oh and the tune is also near-identical to that of Turn Away as appears on the Orange Juice LP Rip It Up)

mp3 : Aztec Camera – We Could Send Letters (NME Version)

(different mix from the Postcard b-side; made available on C81, a mail order cassette from the NME)

mp3 : Go-Betweens – Your Turn, My Turn

(a song Grant and Robert offered to Postcard for release as a second single on the label but which was turned down flat by Alan Horne)

Enjoy.

Older Entries