HVN 211

This is the song written and recorded jointly by Edwyn Collins and two members of Franz Ferdinand, and released as a single in 2011.

The album Losing Sleep (2010) was Edwyn’s seventh solo studio LP, but his first on which work got underway after the illness and complications that had put him at death’s door in 2005.  Much of the music industry rallied round Edwyn once it became clear that, while never likely to overcome everything that had befallen him, he was more than capable of writing and making music, albeit his ability to play guitar was now lost. Friends such as Johnny Marr and Roddy Frame were more than happy to come into the studio and work on things, while there were offers from newer bands such as The Cribs and The Drums to co-write and perform material.  Alex Kopranos and Nick McCarthy also volunteered their services, and Heavenly Records delivered a contract to enable it to be funded, recorded and released.

It was a triumphant comeback, with the album peaking just outside the Top 50 and being his bestseller since Gorgeous George back in 1994, an album whose sales were propelled by the worldwide success of A Girl Like You.

Three singles were lifted from the album – the title track, Do It Again and In Your Eyes.  All were released on 7″ vinyl with simple but incredibly effective artwork, with the sleeves being old-fashioned brown cardboard in which was placed the single, with a common design for each label, with the difference being the colour.  Losing Sleep was yellow, Do It Again was green and In Your Eyes was blue.

mp3: Edwyn Collins – Do It Again
mp3: Edwyn Collins – You’re Gonna Love This One

The b-side was an exclusive track. Written solely by Edwyn, it is one of his real hidden treasures. It’s a fairly lengthy number, coming in at well over five minutes, and the music has that sound and mood of a piece of music that would fit perfectly on some sort of film or TV programme soundtrack. I’m not entirely sure, but it may well be a song that was written and recorded some years previously, before Edwyn was struck down, as his voice sounds much stronger than on the Losing Sleep tracks, and the impressive, almost Bond-theme-esque guitar work is very familiar to those of us who had been keeping up with his career at all times.

The above video for Do It Again is worth watching, partly for the 70s porn star moustache above Alex’s top lip, and also for the fact that Paul Cook, at the age of 54 (as he was at the time) looked great and sharp in his suit as he pounded the drums.



It’s been more than seven years since Volume 1, so I think it’s fair to say that this is long overdue. Indeed, the first Edwyn Collins ICA was #2 in the series, and here we are fast approaching #300.

I think everyone who visits this corner of t’internet knows the backstory, but just in case, here’s the abridged version.

Edwyn Stephen Collins, born on 23 August 1959, first came to fame as the lead singer with Orange Juice, who began life as the Nu-Sonics in 1975, changing their name in 1979 and disbanding in 1985. Edwyn would later embark on a solo career which, until 1994, was a commercial failure in terms of hitting the charts, albeit his loyal fanbase ensured his records sold in reasonable enough numbers, all the while supporting his live shows. All that changed with the worldwide success of the single A Girl Like You, which went Top 10 in almost every European country as well as selling very well in Australia, Canada and the USA. The proceeds from the hit allowed Edwyn to invest in a studio of his own, from where he would sporadically release further new material while also embarking on a parallel career as a producer. He even found his songs appearing on the soundtracks of major Hollywood movies.

In February 2005, at the age of 45, he was in hospital, after two cerebral haemorrhages in quick succession. He suffered a stroke, was in a coma and required major brain surgery to stop internal bleeding which threatened to kill him. His recovery was then hampered by him contracting MRSA. All this was followed by a lengthy programme of neurological rehabilitation owing to right-sided weakness and difficulty with speech. The aphasia he suffered allowed him to repeat only four phrases, over and over again: “yes”, “no”, “Grace Maxwell” (his wife’s name) and “the possibilities are endless”.

Somehow, he made a remarkable recovery to the extent that he was able to take to the stage again in late 2007 and to go on tour in the summer of 2008 to promote Home Again, an album he had recorded largely in the winter of 2004 but whose mixing and completion had to await him getting over the very worst of his illness.

Since then, with the help and support of his family, not to mention the huge number of friends he has made through his work as a musician and producer, Edwyn went on to release three more albums between 2010 and 2019, including the most recent two on a new label which he owns, runs and manages. He and his wife also returned to Scotland after decades in London, making their home in Helmsdale, a coastal village about an hour’s drive from John O’ Groats, the most northerly point in the country, and where he has built a new studio and where he recorded his most recent album, Badbea, which was released in 2019.

Like many others, he’s been quiet in recent times, but he’s already announced plans to play shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2022. And who know, there might well be plans in place to release some new songs written during lockdown.

These were the songs selected for ICA#2 all those years ago.

A Girl Like You; The Beatle$; In Your Eyes; If You Could Love Me; Don’t Shilly Shally; Judas In Blue Jeans; Means To An End; Keep On Burning; 31 Years; and Searching For The Truth (b-side version)

None were considered for this volume.  And what follows aren’t necessarily the very best of the rest….but I do think, like some of the very best ICAs, it holds together as a stand-alone record.


1. 50 Shades of Blue

Edwyn’s post-Orange Juice career began with a couple of collaborations with Paul Quinn, released on Swamplands, a label run by Alan Horne, his old sparring partner from the Postcard days, via a partnership with the major label, London Records. He was then signed by Alan McGhee to the short-lived Elevation, a joint venture between Creation Records and WEA which only lasted a year before WEA pulled the plug due to poor sales of the six singles that had been issued, two each by The Weather Prophets, Primal Scream and Edwyn. The better of these two efforts was Don’t Shilly Shally which was on the previous ICA.

So it makes sense to kick this one off with his first release for Demon Records, a label that had been founded back in 1980 by Jake Riviera, Andrew Lauder and Elvis Costello, and on which most of the latter’s 80s singles and albums had been issued (do you see what I mean about how many friends the incredibly affable and easy-going Edwyn was able to make in the music industry?)

50 Shades of Blue is a great pop song which bound along at a fair pace. Released in October 1989, it was recorded in Koln, Germany and produced by Phil Thornalley, known best at the time as a producer but past member of The Cure, playing on and producing their most unusual pop hit The Lovecats.

2. Won’t Turn Back

One of Edwyn’s oldest friends in the business is Vic Godard, who is a veteran of the punk and post-punk scene going all the way back to the late 70s with Subway Sect. Alan Horne briefly resurrected Postcard Records in the early 90s, and one of the albums to come out was The End Of The Surrey People, a solo album by Vic which was produced by Edwyn. The flop single from the album was the toe-tapping Won’t Turn Back, a song which Edwyn would later record himself as a b-side in 1996.

3. Losing Sleep

Losing Sleep was Edwyn’s seventh studio album, released in 2010 on Heavenly Records. It was the first completely new album after his illness and while it was magical and amazing to be able to see and hear him again, there was an acceptance that the brain injury meant he was now singing a bit differently than before. There is no doubt that the process of going back into the studio again was a difficult time, especially as Edwyn was no longer able to play his guitar due to a paralysis, but many friends and contemporaries offered their services to help make sure the album would be a triumph.

It was recorded in West Heath Studio, the place owned and run by Edwyn in London. The mainstay of his band were musicians who had been with him for decades, including ex-Sex Pistol Paul Cook on drums. Roddy Frame had been part of the touring band in 2007/8 and he made a guest appearance on the new album, as too did Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy (Franz Ferdinand), Johnny Marr, Ryan Jarman (The Cribs), Romeo Stoddart (The Magic Numbers) and Jacob Graham, Connor Hanwick and Jonathan Pierce, all members of The Drums and whose work on In Your Eyes was included on the previous ICA.

The title track was also released as the advance single, and it is another foot-stomper, with a great backbeat, complete with a lyric referring to all his been through but without an iota of self-pity, which is how Edwyn has gone about his life this past decade and a half.

4. Love’s Been Good To Me

Casual listeners might be surprised at just how many slower songs Edwyn has written throughout his career. Sometimes they are out-and-out ballads or love songs, while at other times there’s a quirk or two, such as in North of Heaven from the 1994 album Gorgeous George in which the acoustic tale of a singer down on his luck, contains lines in which there’s a sweary dig at Guns’n’Roses.

This one is a much more straightforward effort, taken from Understated, his eighth solo album, released in 2013. It closes the album, and the guitar work is courtesy of Carwyn Ellis, who is more or less Edwyn’s right-hand man in the studio these days. The lyric? It tells of past love affairs but comes round to the fact that the protagonist is happy with his life nowadays; it really does seem to be his public thank you to his wife Grace Maxwell, who nursed him back through those very dark, difficult and painful years, and without whom there would have been no comeback.

5. Glasgow to London

From Badbea, the ninth and most recent album. Edwyn’s illness robbed him of so many memories, and he’s had to rebuild things in a painstaking way, often through reading old press cuttings and watching old TV appearances. He would have seen a great deal about the Orange Juice days when he and all who were part of the Postcard scene, the Sound of Young Scotland, were prepared to take on the world with youthful exuberance and supreme self-confidence. These days?

Now I note I must admit
I couldn’t give a fuck

A very autobiographical song, in which he says ‘look at the state of me’ before immediately adding ‘but I don’t mind’ and accepting that it’s all in the past.


1. Liberteenage Rag

The previous side closed with a track taken from the three most recent albums.  You can get a sense of the more fragile nature nowadays of Edwyn’s voice when you compare it to the way he sounded on one of the songs recorded a few weeks before his illness.   The image at the top of this posting is taken from the inner sleeve of the album Home Again, released on Heavenly Records in 2007, a full three years after most of the work had been done.  It’s inside the studio at West Heath and if you look closely you’ll see Edwyn’s right fist balled up as he’s unable to straighten the arm and hand.  Now look at all his guitars sitting behind him…..how hard must it have been for him to realise that he’d never be able to play any of them again nor use any of them to write songs like this.

2. Make Me Feel Again

From his most successful album, Gorgeous George, released in 1994 on Setanta.  It was, of course, propelled into the charts from it having A Girl Like You on it, but aside from that, it is a consistently excellent record. The allmusic review captures it well:-

A consolidation of Collins’ skills as a songwriter, demonstrating both his vicious wit and his effortless melodicism. Working with former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and bassist Claire Kenny, he develops the hardest-hitting musical attack of his career, but it’s also surprisingly versatile, capable not only of glam rock, but also jangle pop, folk-rock and blue-eyed soul.

I could have included any number of tracks from it, but Make Me Feel Again I reckon works best at this juncture. Great guitar work and a vocal which lives on the edge of his range….I’ve never claimed Edwyn to be one of the truly great singers of the Scottish pop world, but for some reason, even going back to the Orange Juice days, it’s when he appear to be in danger of losing it that I seem to most enjoy.

3. Seventies Night

The hit single changed everything.  It led to a much increased budget from Setanat for the next album, I’m Not Following You, which came out in 1997, the delay being down to Edwyn globetropping the planet to cash in on his unexpected ‘overnight’ success.  He threw the kitchen sink at the new record, with brass, flutes and strings popping up in the most unexpected and delightful ways. He also paid homage to 70s disco with this appropriately named effort.  Oh, and it has Mark E Smith on lead vocal while Edwyn decides to put his own voice through a vocoder.  Funktastic stuff.

4. Outside

Edwyn was fast approaching his 60th birthday when he was recording Badbea.  It’s a very reflective album in many places, with Outside really being just the one fast-paced number – and coming in at just about bang on the two-minute mark, it’s almost the most punk thing he’s done since the era of the Nu Sonics.

5. Take Care Of Yourself

Hellbent on Compromise, the second solo album released back in 1990, sold dismally.  No singles were taken from it and two of its eleven tracks were cover versions.  A further song, A Means To An End (included on the previous ICA), was Edwyn’s take on a tune co-written with Paul Quinn who himself would slow it right down, retain part of the chorus and add his mighty vocal talents to create A Passing Thought.

So, it’s fair to say Edwyn was struggling a bit for tunes and inspiration and yet the album has some tremendous moments, including the acoustic ballad Graciously which I really should have found space for, as well as Take Care Of Yourself, a near seven-minute number in which Edwyn pleads with folk to be careful with their lives.  Part anti-drugs song, part warning about AIDS, it’s a moving number in a number of ways, not least in what lay ahead for Edwyn some 15 years down the line, where even the cleanest of living couldn’t prevent a near-death experience.

I do hope you enjoy this latest ICA.  It brought me great joy in that I spent days listening to the entire back catalogue again, but it also brought a great deal of angst as I anguished over what to include and how best to complete the running order.  It provided a reminder as to why I don’t do so many ICAs nowadays.




As far as I can work out, it was as far back as 1995 that Bernard Butler and Edwyn Collins started collaborating, with the initial fruits being the co-writing of some songs which would find their way onto Edwyn’s singles as extra tracks, together with Bernard taking on production duties. This would be just a year or so after he had left Suede and immediately after work had been completed on promoting the McAlmont & Butler early singles and debut album.

I recall seeing the two of them appearing on The White Room, a music programme on Channel 4 which was hosted by Mark Radcliffe in which they covered a Python Lee Jackson number, one which had been recorded in the late 60s but only became a hit in 1972 thanks to the fact that the unknown session singer they had used, Rod Stewart, was riding very high both as a solo star and the frontman of The Faces

Edwyn would put his version of In A Broken Dream on CD1 of If You Could Love Me, his follow-up single to A Girl Like You.

Fast-forward to 2001. And the release of this single on Setanta Records, the label which to which Edwyn had been signed since the early 90s:-

mp3: Bernard & Edwyn – Message For Jojo

It didn’t get anywhere near the charts….I’m not sure how many folk in addition to myself bought it (the sticker on the front of the CD case tells me I paid £2.99 from Tower Records). It’s a pleasant enough single without being ground-breaking…..the lead vocal is taken by Bernard when it undoubtedly would have been better handled by Edwyn. But believe me, it is a song that gets better with repeated listens…..and the chorus does become quite infectious after a while.

There were two other tracks on the CD single:-

mp3 : Bernard & Edwyn – Can’t Do That (The Hoover)
mp3 : Bernard & Edwyn – Clean

The former is a very bizarre but immensely likeable five and a bit minutes. There’s a hint of the sort of dance music played by Air about it. I reckon if it was played to you for the first time with no hint who was involved, you would have got long odds on guessing it was a collaboration between the former guitarist in Suede and the former frontman of Orange Juice.

The latter is a bit disappointing after what has gone before. It’s a bit of a nondescript ballad if truth be told…..but you may have a different viewpoint. Again, I feel it might have benefited from Edwyn taking lead vocal…….




I’ve no football match today, so here’s a bonus posting.

Santa Claus was very very good to me. Mrs Villain scoured e-bay for something unusual, and a box of 7″ singles from Altered Images/Edwyn Collins/Orange Juice ended up coming down the chimney in the old man’s sack. A total of 30 records going back to the Postcard era and containing a few rare gems such as flexidiscs and a Clare Grogan solo single.*

And now that I’ve got my act together and sorted out a replacement stylus for the USB Turntable, I thought I’d share one of the more rare recordings with you.

It’s a very early solo single from 1987 , produced by Robin Guthrie from Cocteau Twins. Like so many songs I end up posting on this blog, it should have been a hit…..but wasn’t.

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Don’t Shilly Shally (Side One)
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – If Ever You’re Ready (Side Two)

The single is on the Elevation label (part of WEA Records) and has the catalogue number ACID4.

*from recollection, the job lot was a little over £30, including postage.  The mania from a vinyl revival was still a couple of years off…..you’d certainly be looking at £100 and upwards nowadays….there were three postcard singles in the bundle along with every 7″, in mint condition, released by Altered Images, including rare picture discs.



It’s a great photo isn’t it? It could be captioned ‘I’ll never be man enough for you’.

Edwyn and Roddy have always been good friends going right back to the Postcard Records era, and Roddy was among the first to offer his services to play in any touring band that Edwyn wanted to put together when he finally ventured out again after his illnesses. Those gigs were memorable for so many reasons, not least hearing Roddy’s effortless takes on the old tunes.

Way back before than, in 1990, the two of them appeared together on stage during one of Roddy’s gigs to promote the release of Stray. It was at the Glasgow Barrowlands in August 1990; I believe that our dear friend Drew from Across The Kitchen Table was present that night. One of their fun-filled and laughter-inducing duelling-guitar collaborations was captured and later made available as a b-side to the CD release of the single Good Morning Britain.

mp3 : Edwyn Collins & Roddy Frame – Consolation Prize




I think I’ve said it all before so I’ll keep things to a minimum today.

But if you need evidence of the impact of Edwyn’s near death experiences, then listen to these two versions of one of his songs; the original dating back to 1997 and the new version featuring on the soundtrack to the documentary film The Possibilities Are Endless (from which the above image is taken) telling the story of his recovery from his illnesses.

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Don’t Shilly Shally (single)
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Don’t Shilly Shally (2014 new recording)




It was October 1990 that Roddy Frame last bothered the compilers of the UK singles chart with his bombastic but catchy duet with Mick Jones.  As I mentioned in my ICA effort last August, compiled just after the Boy Wonder had given a tremendous near-homecoming concert at the Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow, there’s a really lovely piano only version out there, available as a b-side to the 1992 single Dream Sweet Dreams, in which the radio-friendly stomp chart is turned into a thing of beauty.

I had reason recently to dig out the original CD single and I re-discovered that in fact it was a decent release on its own as it contained a slight remix of the album version, two live tracks from a gig at the Barrowlands in August 1990 (one of which on the night was totally unexpected) and a radical remix thanks to Fatboy Slim himself.

mp3 : Aztec Camera and Mick Jones – Good Morning Britain (vocal remix)
mp3 : Roddy Frame and Edwyn Collins – Consolation Prize (live)
mp3 : Aztec Camera and Mick Jones – Good Morning Britain (live)
mp3 : Aztec Camera – Good Morning Britain (remixed by Norman Cook)

The lyric was of course a social commentary on life in the UK under a right-wing Tory government with no prospect of things changing but it was kind of lost in the tune that, with the help of Mick Jones, took Aztec Camera into the charts for that one last time in 1990.  This live version demonstrates just how great a song it is….maybe it is time for it to be dusted down and updated to take account of life under David Cameron…

mp3 : Aztec Camera – Good Morning Britain (live at Ronnie Scott’s)





Now come on…..all of you knew it was only a matter of time before the great man made an appearance….

The fact he’s as low as #32 might surprise some of you, while the fact I’ve gone for a single that isn’t one of his better known may make it a double surprise.

Are you interested enough to learn that Edwyn Collins released about a dozen or so singles in the UK as a solo artist over the best part of 20 years up to 2008? And of these only A Girl Like You bothered the charts. But then again, it bothered the charts all over Europe and beyond (#6 in Australia…), making Edwyn more money for that particular four minutes of work than the rest of his recording career, and indeed his producing career, put together.

So to the majority of people, Edwyn Collins is a something of a one-hit wonder twice over – with Orange Juice and Rip It Up in 1982 and then A Girl Like You in 1994.

I’m not saying all of his solo singles have been instant classics, but it still baffling that he’s only struck gold on one occasion. Another single from the Gorgeous George LP really deserved a much wider audience. It’s long been my view that if something this easy on the ear with such a heartfelt lyric had been given to someone like Robbie Williams to record, then we would have been looking at an instant crowd-pleasing #1……

Having said that, the arrangement from the chart heavyweights would probably have made it unrecognisable from the original….

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – If You Could Love Me

I’ve got both CD 1 and CD 2 of this single as well as a 12″ vinyl version, and between them, they offer up an additional seven songs as ‘b-sides’.


mp3 : Edwyn Collins – In A Broken Dream
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Hope And Despair
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Insider Dealing

The first of these tracks is a cover version of a song from the 70s, originally released by Python Lee Jackson (with vocal by Rod Stewart). The second is a re-working of the title track of an earlier solo LP by Edwyn. The third is an instrumental clocking in at over 8 mins in length.


mp3 : Edwyn Collins – If Ever Your Ready
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Come To Your Senses
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You (Victorian Spaceman Mix)

The first, produced by Bernard Butler, is a misspelling of a track that Edwyn has recorded and released previously. If Ever You’re Ready is also on the LP Hope and Despair, with further different versions available on the b-sides of the singles 50 Shades of Blue and Don’t Shilly Shally. The second is a great track and in my view, wasted as a giveaway on a CD single, while I’m sure you know about the original version of the third…

12″ vinyl

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – If You Could Love Me (M.C. Esher mix)

Somehow I don’t think this will be the last appearance Edwyn makes in my nostalgic and self-indulgent consideration of great 45s.


A re-post from 4 September 2008

Poems on the Underground was launched in 1986 to bring the art to a wider audience by displaying various poems or stanzas on advertising boards across the London Underground network. Read more about it here.

In early 1995, those in control decided to feature some of the lyrics of an Edwyn Collins song. The genesis of the lines that became so well-known to millions of commuters can be traced back to 1991 when not only did Edwyn’s LP Hellbent On Compromise sell in miserable numbers, but his record label wouldn’t release any singles from it on the basis that they were unlikely to get radio play.

Edwyn’s sound was about as far out of fashion as ever could be imagined. The public had seemingly turned its back on him. He was, in the words of another EC, (Elvis Costello), a man out of time.

He turned primarily to production duties, and most of us who had followed his career from way back now thought his recording days were over. Then, out of the blue, he released what subsequently became his biggest selling LP ever.

Gorgeous George crept out quietly in back in August 1994, on a small Irish label to very little fanfare, and, though many will deny it now, to near silence from the music critics employed by the papers and magazines. A couple of singles were met with just as much indifference.

But there were people out there who got it. One such individual, and I have no idea who, was the person who managed to persuade his or her colleagues to turn some of Edwyn’s lyrics into a poem. Whether they were a fan of Edwyn or not, again I have no idea. Here’s the lyric in its entirety, with the section chosen to go underground highlighted in bold:-

Don’t try so hard to be different,
The cracks are beginning to show
You drift like a cloud through the festival crowd
In a frock coat from Saville Row

You’ve just been to a all-night party
Where I have to admit it takes pluck
To go out on the floor and proclaim ‘What a bore’
In a T-shirt that reads ‘Disco Sucks’

Yes, here he comes, the not-so-young
Pretender to the throne
He’s singing ‘Rag, Momma, Rag,’
Won’t you give that poor dog a bone?

And he’s wondering why we can’t connect
When he’s sworn to us that he’s totally wrecked
On the rustic charm that he affects
On a public schoolboy whim

With a raggle taggle plastic gypsy
Robert Zimmerframe
With a synthesized accordian
A-scramblin‘ up my brain

With a fiddle-dee–dee, a fiddle on high
Excuse me folks while I kiss the sky
Or at any rate give it one more try
Before I die. Before I die

The overrated hit the stage
Overpaid and over here
And their idea of counter-culture’s
Momma’s charge account at Sears

And they’re wondering why we can’t connect
With the ritual of the trashed guitar
One more paltry empty gesture
The ashes of a burned out star

Yes here they come, both old and young
A contact low or high
The gathering of the tribes descending
Vultures from a caustic sky

The rotting carcass of July
An ugly sun hung out to dry
Your gorgeous hippy dreams are dying
Your frazzled brains are putrifying

Repackaged, sold and sanitized
The devil’s music exorcised
You live, you die, you lie, you lie, you die
Perpetuate the lie
Just to perpetuate the lie

Yes yes yes it’s the Summer Festival
The truly detestable Summer Festival

Too often this lyric has been taken as an outright attack on American musicians – and in particular grunge music, which for the previous three or four years had been so dominant.

But read it closely…..the sarcasm about grunge comes AFTER an earlier dose of the famous Collins wit had been deployed on the new age travellers who were roaming the country and causing all sorts of chaos. I’m sure it wasn’t that Edwyn hated the concept of the traditional travellers – it was more the case that he, like many others, despised the posh kids who thought it would be such wonderful fun to be a rebel for a short while…..before going off to their guaranteed job in the city with a friend of daddy….

And then at the end, with typical Collins mischief just after he’s delivered a guitar solo that raawwwwwkkkkksssss, it’s all brought together at one big open-air gathering where our Edwyn’s least favourite musicians will find their perfect audience…..

A true genius at work if you want my opinion.

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – The Campaign For Real Rock

Oh….and the picture that illustrates this posting??? That’s one of my proudest possessions.

In mid 1995, the re-released single A Girl Like You went massive the world over, and Edwyn went on tour. He played a great homecoming gig at the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow. Among the merchandise on sale were a handful of the London Underground billboards that were printed but not used on the trains – signed by the great man himself. And given the tragic circumstances which have since then left Edwyn incapable of reproducing his pre-illnesses signature, you’ll understand why this particular artefact will always have a special place in Villain Towers.

Happy Listening.




Dear Readers.

Please indulge me with this one.  I’m putting up this re-post from July 2009. I’m doing so because today marks the 10th anniversary of the day that Edwyn Collins collapsed at home after a stroke.

The original posting fills in the details……………..


After reading this compelling 310 pages, I was left with quite a number of impressions, one being that I couldn’t possibly cope with being married to Grace Maxwell. She herself acknowledges that she is a nagging, dominating, sharp-tongued and single-minded individual who has difficulty ever admitting that she ever gets something wrong. But one thing is for sure…..if she wasn’t like that, her partner would most likely be dead, or at best locked away from the world, dependant on specialist round-the-clock treatment. So without any question at all, Edwyn Collins is very blessed to have Grace Maxwell by his side…

Falling and Laughing – The Restoration of Edwyn Collins is a truly astonishing and eye-opening book. It’s also a very very frightening bit of work, and not the sort of thing you really want to be reading if someone close to you is lying ill in hospital with a life-threatening condition.

I’m sure most regular TVV readers are familiar with the basic facts, but here’s a quick resume of what I knew before picking up the hardback.

In February 2005, Edwyn Collins suffered a stroke which left him seriously ill in a London hospital. He was in a coma and required major brain surgery to stop internal bleeding which threatened to kill him. His recovery was hampered by him contracting MRSA, but in the fullness of time, he got back home, and thanks to some fantastic TLC from his partner Grace, their son Will and many other members of his family and his close friends, not to mention many hours of therapeutic treatment, he made a remarkable recovery which allowed him to get back on stage again in late 2007 and to then go on tour in the summer of 2008.

If only it had been that simple……

Opening with a very short prologue that asks the reader to imagine you not having any more thoughts, the book then looks back at the early part of Edwyn’s career with Orange Juice and the circumstances which brought him and Grace together for the first time in 1980, leading to them deciding to live together some five years later. From the outset, Grace was an essential part of Team Edwyn – she was his full-time manager before they got together as a couple, and she shared his woes and worries as he went out of fashion post-Orange Juice but never ever giving up on his immense talent, even when his records were selling to almost no-one.

The world-wide success of the single A Girl Like You in 1994/95 changed everything, setting them, and new son Will, up for life in terms of financial security. It also gave Edwyn the opportunity to make and produce music as and when he liked from the comfort of his own and much-in-demand studio. By early 2005. life seemed quite uncomplicated. Edwyn was 45 years of age, an elder and much respected statesman in music, still recording new songs but under no pressure to come up with the hits. Indeed there was a great deal of satisfaction with the new songs recently recorded and about to go into the post-production for a new LP which would be followed by the inevitable tour and other promotional work.

But then Grace came home on at around 7pm on the night of Sunday 20th February 2005 after picking up her car that had been left a friend’s house after a party she and Edwyn had attended the night before – and discovered him lying semi-conscious and distressed on the living room floor….

Much of the book deals with the next few months as Edwyn tries to battle back from the stroke. Grace writes with a directness and clarity that is utterly refreshing, and she is never over-dramatic about events. She gives a great deal of praise to the medical and nursing staff involved in saving Edwyn’s life, but without ever making them appear as saints. At the same time, she also paints a very distressing picture of a medical system that contributes more to a crisis than it does resolve it.

Grace was fortunate in having some immediate family members who work in medicine, and so she could often talk to someone and try to get an alternative view. Grace was also able to devote 100% of her own energy to be with Edwyn over an extended period of time – a luxury very rarely afforded to most wives/husbands/partners. If she had been in a position where she had taken all the medical opinions totally at face value, and had been unable to spend as much time by Edwyn’s side in the very early days, it is quite likely that everyone would have given up the fight…but they battled through all the obstacles and barriers placed in their way, and slowly his recovery began.

But just as Edwyn was about to be moved out of general care into a specialist unit where his therapy would be intense, there was a setback that made the original stroke seem a bit like a pleasant Sunday stroll in the sunshine round – the contraction of the superbug MRSA. What follows really is the stuff of nightmares……

I’m not spoiling anything by revealing that in the fullness of time, Edwyn faced up to and defeated death for a second time. His rehabilitation is covered in great depth and compassion. Grace doesn’t hide from the fact that this was an immense strain on her and Will and describes some unpleasant family exchanges with an admirable honesty that brought a lump to the throat of this particular reader. I’m sure most of us by now have been in difficult circumstances when someone close is being treated for an illness, and reading many of Grace’s lines brought back a lot of memories of watching loved ones painfully tear themselves up trying to work out what course of action is the best way forward.

As a long-time fan of Edwyn Collins, I would love to have discovered that his recovery turned out to be a smooth and straight-forward process, with him taking his medicine and undergoing his therapy without complaint or giving anyone any cause for concern, and indeed Grace could have easily painted such a rosy picture with very few of us being any the wiser. That she doesn’t is testament to just how good a book this is, and helps the reader gain a much better understanding of just how remarkable it is that Edwyn has the ability nowadays to take to the stage and entertain us.

Having been lucky enough to see him perform three times over the past 12 months I thought that Edwyn – not withstanding the very clear mobility and speech difficulties he still has – was almost completely rehabilitated. Grace’s book reminds everyone that there is still a long way to go. It also reminds us that what Edwyn and so many others close to him have achieved over the past couple of years is quite miraculous – but it has all been through grit, graft and guts, not to mention a lot of Grace.

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Graciously
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Let Me Put My Arms Around You


The intervening five and half years since the book was first published have again been nothing short of miraculous.  Edwyn has continued to defy the odds with more new, critically acclaimed music and live shows that are always joyous celebrations of the fact he is still alive.  One of the best was last summer when he played a Spiegeltent in Glasgow Green as part of a cultural event associated with the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  The place was jammed packed with fans of all ages and the reception Edwyn received as he took to the stage was heartfelt, vocal and lengthy.  The set we were treated to was one of the best I’ve ever been privileged to witness….and all the while I found myself standing right next to Grace Maxwell who was having as great a time as the rest of us.

The story of Edwyn’s efforts to rebuild his life has also now been captured on film and while it is often a very strange and ‘arty’ piece of work, I do recommend if you get the chance to view The Possibilities Are Endless which was released in 2014.




It was nearly two months back when I launched this new series.  The idea is to take one of my favourite bands or singers and list what I think would make the idea ‘Best of’ album with a few words on why. The only proviso is that I’m going to do it as a proper old-fashioned LP…10 tracks in total with an A-side and a B-side and it’s got to hang together like a proper LP and not just a collection of greatest hits.

I started things off with The Smiths and this time round it’s the solo career of Edwyn Collins.

The inspiration from this was seeing him perform the other week, as pictured above, during the Glasgow Mix Tape event that was part of the Cultural Programme linked with the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

It was an absolutely foul day…rain of biblical proportions which at one point made me think the Noah & The Ark story in the Old Testament might not be too far-fetched.  There were 2 stages in use – one was outdoors and the other was indoors.  I had just watched a great set from Malcolm Middleton in the pouring rain and like many others, rushed across 200 yards to where Edwyn was due to take the stage in 15 minutes time.  That’s when we discovered the venue was full….not so much from folk wanting to see the great man, but more everyone taking shelter from the elements…particularly those with young children.

I’m sort of ashamed of what I did next.  Despite me knowing a few folk in the queue with whom I should have stood patiently while the one-in, one-out entry policy was enforced, I used what little influence I have and made a phone call to the event organisers and asked for help….which came in the shape of an access all areas pass for two.  It meant me and the mate who had come along with me could get in but not the others.  I really did feel bad, but there was no way I was missing it.

Edwyn Collins in concert is a real uplifting experience.  His life-threatening illnesses have wreaked havoc with his systems and it takes all his effort to walk the short distance from backstage to take his place on a stool where the words to all the songs he is going to sing are in a book in front of him.   Even though he forgets the name of his great friend who is accompanying him on acoustic guitar – James Walbourne – he makes light of it and launches into a 45 minute set comprising solo material mixed in with some Orange Juice classics, some of which worked a treat as acoustic numbers while others were a bit more shambolic….although as a veteran of Orange Juice gigs it was great to see that the great man after all these years still doesn’t take things so seriously that every note sung and every chord strummed has to be perfect.

In short….it was wonderful…..and as I say it has inspired me to make a stab at an ideal Edwyn Collins compilation album:-

Side A

1. A Girl Like You
2. The Beatle$
3. In Your Eyes
4. If You Could Love Me
5. Don’t Shilly Shally

Side B

1. Judas In Blue Jeans
2. Means To An End
3. Keep On Burning
4. 31 Years
5. Searching For The Truth (b-side version)

It’s taken about three hours of humming and hawing and numerous changes of mind before I settled on the above. There are loads of songs that I can’t believe didn’t make the final cut which may well invite ridicule from other fans. But the logic is:-

1. It’s not my favourite song by Edwyn. However, it is the one for which he is best known and its inclusion is inevitable, so putting it as the opening track serves two purposes – it gets this imaginary LP off to a great upbeat start and it means the elephant in the room has been dealt with…

2. Edwyn at his caustic, bitchy best as he delivers a swinging punch at the fag-end of Britpop.

3. Sometimes a song elevates itself through a live performance and this is such an instance.  The first completely new LP after the illness saw loads of folk work alongside Edwyn to help create a wonderfully crafted pop record.  This song was co-written and recorded with The Drums and the co-vocal with Jonathan Pierce is very enjoyable.  But on tour, the singing duties were taken up by none other than Will Collins, son of the great man who, along with his mum, had done so much to nurture Edwyn back to health.  I don’t think I have ever roared as loudly at the end of a song as I did that night at the Oran Mor in Glasgow…from where I was standing I could see Grace Maxwell standing at the side of the stage…I’m sure she was wiping away a few tears of joy and pride.

4. This is the solo song that found its way into my 45 45s at 45 list.  It’s long been my view that if something this easy on the ear with such a heartfelt lyric had, at the time, been given to some well-known pop idol (e.g. Robbie Williams) to record, then we would have been looking at an instant crowd-pleasing #1……gorgeous stuff.

5. One of the earliest solo records and one of the most enduring.  It still sounds fresh some 27 years after its initial release and rightly retains its place in the current setlists.

6. This was far too good a song to only be available as a b-side (it was the reverse of Coffee Table Song) and so I’m resurrecting it to give the b-side of my imaginary album a great beginning.

7. This was co-written with Paul Quinn who later on slowed down the tune, retained a chunk of the lyric and added his vocal talents to to create two majestic versions of the song A Passing Thought.   Edwyn’s use of the tune may not quite be up there with the mighty Quinn but it’s more than worthy of its place on this imaginary LP.

8. It’s at this point I began panicking a bit as I realised I was down to my last three tracks and so many great things were going to be left off.  I still find it very strange that so many of Edwyn’s wonderful singles failed to bother the charts. This tribute to Northern Soul is an absolute belter of a track which somehow didn’t make the playlists of the contemporary radio stations when released back in 1997.  Get yourself on the dance floor and throw some shapes….

9. Edwyn’s own tribute to his life and his work.  One of the highlights of the excellent Understated LP from 2013.

10. There’s a lovely, slightly longer version of this song which closes the LP Losing Sleep.  But some 2 years earlier, a version had sneaked out as the b-side to the single Home Again.  It was a short song, coming in at a shade under 1 minute and 50 seconds….but it provided proof that his illness may have changed his life forever, but it hadn’t taken away Edwyn’s ability to write songs.  And just listen to the great guitar work from Roddy Frame who was such an important part of the backing band the first time Edwyn went back on the road in 2008.  A perfect ending.

Edwyn turns 55 years of age in ten days time.  Happy birthday when it comes…..

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – The Beatle$
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – In Your Eyes
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – If You Could Love Me
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Don’t Shilly Shally
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Judas In Blue Jeans
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Means To An End
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Keep On Burning
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – 31 Years
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Searching For The Truth (b-side version)

It’s of course the case that when you buy a vinyl LP nowadays you get a download code. I’ve decided that the code for this particular LP will contain a bonus track, a cover of a Vic Godard track that was stuck away on one of Edwyn’s b-sides:-

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Won’t Turn Back




I’ve never hidden my love of a good cover version.  The old place used to have the occasional week’s worth of postings that were all about cover versions.  I thought I’d so similar here in my new abode.

One of the things that I think makes a particularly good cover is when a singer or band take a song and do it in their own inimitable style so that unless you knew the original version you’d be hard pushed to realise it is not an original you’re listening to.  Edwyn Collins has managed this on a couple of occasions:-

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Ding a Dong

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – The Witch Queen Of New Orleans

The first of these is a cover of the winning entry in the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest.  The original was by a band called Teach In who were from the Netherlands and on its release as a single in the UK, Ding a Dong reached #13 . Although would be their only success in the UK, Teach In were well-known in their native land – indeed their participation in Eurovision came after a number of hit singles in 1974 – and released 5 LPs and around 20 singles in the 70s.

The second song dates from 1971 and was written and recorded by Redbone, an American band that enjoyed a fair bit of critical and commercial success in the States in the 70s.  The Witch Queen of New Orleans was also a hit in the UK, reaching #2 in October 1971, a position it kept for four successive weeks but kept off the top spot by Rod Stewart singing Maggie May. Given that Edwyn would have been 12 years old at the time, I’m guessing his love for Witch Queen stems from him watching Top of The Pops and wishing that somehow the song would get boring old Rod off the show for at least one week….



Back on 8 October 2011, I started a series called ‘Saturday’s Scottish Single’.  The aim was to feature one 45 or CD single by a Scottish singer or band with the proviso that the 45 or CD single was in the collection. I had got to Part 60-something and as far as Kid Canaveral when the rug was pulled out from under TVV.

I’ll catch up soon enough by featuring 5 or more at a time from the archives..


(41) Dogs Die In Hot Cars – Lounger  b/w Mandarins : V2 Records promo single (2004)

Read more about Dogs Die In Hot Cars here


(42) Dot Allison – Message Personnel b/w Tomorrow Never Comes b/w Message Personnel (Arab Strap remix) b/w Message Personnel (Death In Vegas remix): Heavenly Records : CD Maxi-Single (1999)

Read more about Dot Allison here


(43) Dumb Instrument –  Oor Wullie’s Baldy b/w What If Cliff? b/w Reverse The Hearse : Hackpen Records CD (2007)

Dumb Instrument  will always have a special place in my heart for it was their gig on 3 January 2008 at the 13th Note in Glasgow that I finally met Comrade Colin in the flesh.  The bloke who had been the single-biggest inspiration for me starting up a blog has invited me alongs to catch a live set from an act he had included the song ‘Reverse The Hearse’ in his best of run-down for 1997.  As I blogged this next day….

“To be honest, I was initially more excited about finally, after all this time, hooking up with Colin (previous attempts to meet and blether had fallen through) than the gig itself. I’m delighted to reveal ladies and gentlemen, that Colin is indeed a true comrade in arms – every bit as witty, erudite, charming and entertaining in the flesh as he is in print – and I reckon we would have been quite happy just sitting in the bar talking about all sorts of things (but mostly music).”

The gig also turned out to be a hugely enjoyable event and I bought this single on the night.

Dumb Instrument  describe their output as ‘Jakey Rock’ – and state that it fuses the ideals of ‘Jakeys’ and ‘Rock’ into one nice genre which is accessible to all.

Overseas readers might wonder what ‘jakey’ means. Well, it’s a bit of Scottish slang which has two meanings – it is used to describe a down and out homeless person or alternatively a particular type of alcoholic – one who is found wandering the streets drinking anything (including methylated spirits) to put him/her in severe state of inebriation. Oh and they’re often of course also a down and out and/or homeless.

While jakey-rock might sound unappealing, it is most certainly not the case. The band consists of keyboardist Mikey Grant, bassist Kieron Campbell and vocalist Tom Murray.

Without being at all disparaging to the others, it is Tom Murray who holds most attention. He doesn’t sing or rant like a scary drunk. He has a really sweet almost angelic voice. His lyrics are just astonishing. I don’t mean it as an insult to say that he is more a poet than a songwriter – each songs unfolds like a short story. Visually, he looks like a cross between a son of Scottish artist and playwright John Byrne and a cousin of Scotland’s other great bearded bard – Aiden Moffat. 

A few years later I lost my young brother and then my best mate within a short period of time.  My other great cyber-mate, ctel, stepped in and took over the blog on both occasions and there were some amazing guest posts which really meant so much to me at a time of sorrow.  Sadly, most of those posts have been lost forever thanks to the bastards at google.  Comrade Colin’s contribution was Reverse The Hearse by Dumb Instrument.  He knew it would make me smile….


(44) Eagleowl – Mf : Fife Kills Records CD  (2008)

The Scotsman newpaper has described Eagleowl the soundtrack to the saddest, most beautiful art-house film you’ve never seen. Others have compared to Low, Galaxie 500, Dirty Three, John Cale, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and The Low Anthem. The band members themselves have Bert Jansch, Fairport Convention, Alasdair Roberts, Smog, Broken Records and Withered Hand as influences on the band.

Between 2008 and 2010 they released two EPs and a single, all of which were limited edition releases, although digital versions of the songs can still be purchased . It’s because of that I only made one track from one of the EPs available.


(45) Edwyn Collins – 50 Shades of Blue (extended version) b/w Kindred Spirit b/w Just Call Her Name b/w Ain’t That Always The Way b/w If Ever You’re Ready b/w 50 Shades of Blue (7″) b/w Judas In Blue Jeans : Demon Records 12″, 7″ and CD single (1989)

Parts 46-50 next Saturday…..



If you thought that the best cowboy/country and western songs date back to the golden era of Johnny Cash or the chart blazing hits of the likes of Glen Campbell or Kenny Rogers, then I provide the following as evidence that 1985 had a wonderful example:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn – Ain’t That Always The Way

The follow-up single to Paul and Edwyn’s majestic cover of Pale Blue Eyes, this single on Swamplands Records ended up being credited as a solo recording due to contractual issues Edwyn had at the time.  Despite the single receiving positive reviews in a number of the weekly papers, as well as the teen-orientated mag Smash Hits, it sold poorly and got nowhere near the charts.

Four years later, the song’s composer provided his own take on it, although by making it a b-side on a 12″ single which sold even fewer copies than the Swamplands effort, it too is not the easiest to track down:-

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Ain’t That Always The Way

My previous musings on this song over at the old place led to a reader sending me an e-mail with an attachment that contained something quite special.  The audio quality is far from perfect but I’m very proud to have a copy of a version recorded for an early evening show on Radio 1. Worth noting the added harmonica which makes the song sound like a close cousin of What Presence?! and the fact that this recording pre-dates, by quite some months, the release of the song as a 45:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins – Ain’t That Always The Way (Richard Skinner Session)

I’ve also since got my hands on the demo version of the song which was made available on an NME compilation cassette:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn – Ain’t That Always The Way (demo)

Finally.  Another wonderful reader once sent me a bundle of home made compilation CDs to listen to and enjoy.  Basing his selections on the sort of material I was going on about on the blog, one of the many excellent songs was this very lovely cover:-

mp3 : Secret Goldfish – Ain’t That Always The Way

There’s more postings about Secret Goldfish coming your way soon.