IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (7)

Today’s debut 45 launched a label as well as a band:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – Falling and Laughing

I really don’t think I can add all that much to the praise I’ve heaped on Orange Juice and Postcard Records on previous occasions.

One thing I have observed is that the reputation of the band and the label seems to grow with each passing year, possibly from the legacy in that they seemed to create templates for many to follow in their footsteps. I do find this somewhat amusing as everyone, and in particular Edwyn Collins and Alan Horne, were regarded as joke figures by many of their contemporaries, including here in Glasgow. The first sign of change of attitude can be traced to the mid-80s and the emergence of a new breed of writers, particularly those who served their apprenticeships with fanzines before landing proper media jobs, and the explosion of performers whose teen and adolescent years were spent listening to the records and similar sounding songs on other small independently run labels such as Rough Trade.

This new cognoscenti were fulsome and consistent in their praise of the Postcard rota and for the Postcard way of doing things. All of a sudden, it was fashionable and hip to drop 185 West Princes Street into conversation and music press interviews. It may have dropped off again in the early 90s when grunge took over, but it rose back up in the middle of that decade when Edwyn enjoyed his world-wide solo hit and then even higher again a decade or so later when he suffered his life-threatening illnesses; this second wave of praise and enthusiasm wasn’t out of sympathy, but instead was the recognition of just how unique and different it had all been from the beginning.

But was Falling & Laughing the best ever Orange Juice single? My opinion, and I’ve expressed this on the pages of the blog before, is that honour should be bestowed on another 45 from the Polydor years.

But………..and here’s the kicker in today’s post, I want to change my mind. I still think Felicity is the Orange Juice song I most enjoy listening to and I don’t see that changing. But without Falling and Laughing there wouldn’t have been Felicity or Blue Boy or I Can’t Help Myself or What Presence. There would unlikely have been many other great indie and pop bands to emerge out of the shadows here in Scotland and further afield if it wasn’t for the fact that Postcard Records got up and running, albeit it never really got all that far at the time. And so, for all sorts of reasons, I have to now say that Falling and Laughing is the greatest 45 ever released by Orange Juice.

JC

THE FAREWELL SINGLE IN ALL ITS GUISES

Orange Juice signed off with a flourish with their final single having the very tongue-in-cheek title of Lean Period. It was issued in 7″ and 12″ formats in a brown paper bag (the reverse side of the 7″ version is pictured above), a 12″ format with a printed sleeve and a limited 7″ edition that came with an additional flexi disc with two live tracks.

Despite all this, it staggered around the nether region of the charts but as this was a time when the charts were measured on a Top 100 it meant, in official terms, that Lean Period actually spent three weeks in the official rundown – entering at #78, rising to #77 and then leaping, salmon-like to the giddy-heights of #74 in October 1984.

mp3 : Orange Juice – Lean Period
mp3 : Orange Juice – Bury My Head In My Heads
mp3 : Orange Juice – Lean Period (12″ dub version)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Rip it Up (live)
mp3 : Orange Juice – What Presence?! (live)

The flexi disc recordings are very lo-fi, ripped as they are straight from those fragile and flimsy bits of plastic and so you’ll have to turn the volume right up. There are superior versions available via the Coals to Newcastle boxset but I thought I’d stay true to the blog’s principles.

JC

THIS ONE’S FOR JOHNNY BOTTOMS

The day is drawing ever closer when our dear friend Jonny the Friendly Lawyer (JTFL) aka Johnny Bottoms, the country bassist, will cross the Atlantic with his fellow Ponderosa Aces to begin the tour of English cities and towns. I’m delighted to say that I’ve made arrangements to get myself down to the gig in Manchester on Sunday 23 April, and all being well I might get to hook up with another dear friend of this parish, the mighty Swiss Adam of Bagging Area fame.

If anyone cares to join us, then feel free to come along for the ride. To paraphrase one Adam Ant, country music is nothing to be scared of.

As evidenced by this #4 hit from October 1981:-

mp3 : Squeeze – Labelled With Love

A sad and melancholy single lifted from the excellent East Side Story LP, on which Elvis Costello did a sterling job in the producer’s chair, it was the band’s final ever entry into the Top 10. It’s a very fine example of a talented band, fronted by incredibly gifted songwriters, demonstrating that they can turn their hand to any genre.

The b-side was a bit of throwaway fun:-

mp3 : Squeeze – Squabs on 45

It’s a medley of earlier singles akin to what was a fad at the time in the UK where excerpts of hit songs, sometimes from one act but more often than not from a variety of artists, were spliced together as a 45. Very scarily, an act called Stars on 45 enjoyed four Top 20 hits in the UK in 1981/82 by employing such a technique. And yes, Squeeze were making a point about how awful these medley efforts were – everything reduced to one simple beat and rhythm.

Orange Juice also did something similar as a piss take for a Peel Session:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – Blokes on 45

JC

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

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 boxset, 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

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

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

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