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.



  1. A very fine album to be sure, though the passing years had completely erased this cassette version from my memory. I bought relatively few pre-recorded cassettes (other than those on the tape only Roir label) and of those, the longest surviving in the collection was probably ‘Bite’, which I kept for the extended versions.
    Do you remember Island’s flirtations with the +1 Series? In a bid to combat home taping, which we were assured was ‘killing music’, Island issued a selection of their catalogue on special cassettes, with the pre-recorded album on one side and the other side left blank for your very own compilation/home recordings. It never caught on. Funny that.

  2. There is no doubt that this album is a great album, and the cassette version only adds to that greatness.
    By calling their third full album (and yes, I also count Texas Fever, but bear with me) ‘The Orange Juice’ this was a nod, appreciated by Edwyn at the time, to the Velvets 3rd, ‘The Velvet Underground’. It was little wonder, to me at least, that he would go on to record ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ from the latter with Paul Quinn.
    One of the great marketing ploys at a time of excess was the release of ‘Lean Period’ in a brown paper bag!
    That this album never bore any bona fide hits still stuns me to this day. Even the simplest sounding of songs sounds good, such as ‘All That Ever Mattered’.
    Edwyn continued to include words among the lyrics which were plucked from a lexicon ignored by others, and ‘What Presence?!’ shows this to the utmost, before changing into a chant about climate change (?!) with the refrain of, “What you gonna do when the river runs dry'”

  3. I also hold this album in the highest regard. Salmon fishing in New York, all that ever mattered, the artisans , what presence, lean period, all great songs. I had forgotten that the band had all but broken up before this , I take it that Texas fever was a swan song for the rip it up line up? Think I remember that being the case. Incidentally, David, I think the what presence’s refrain about rivers running dry is an allusion to teenage guilt over masturbation. I know sounds far fetched but it was something edwyn said while introducing the song on an old bootleg I had and don’t have any more. Might have been a gig in Newcastle? It also could very possibly have just been one of Edwyn’s wry wee jokes to himself but I have always taken it since then that that’s what the song was about.

  4. I’ve never associated that refrain with teenage masturbation guilt. Maybe I was coming at it from a different perspective. Edwyn made an appearance around this time on a BBC Scotland show called fsd. I’d love to see or hear those tracks again.

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