THE POSTCARD SINGLE THAT NEVER WAS….

The above photo is the reverse of the sleeve for Chance Meeting, a single released by Josef K on Postcard Records in 1981 and given the catalogue number 81-5. If you look closely or indeed magnify it, you’ll see that the opportunity has been taken to list all the previous singles, along with their catalogue numbers, as well as the anticipated next release:-

81-6 : Orange Juice
Wan Light c/w You Old Eccentric

Only it never happened. It was meant to be a 45 with both sides devoted to James Kirk songs. The band sped off to Polydor before there was a chance to issue a fifth single for the Glasgow label; indeed there would be one further 45 ever released out of West Princes Street, Glasgow and that was 81-8 : Mattress Of Wire c/w Lost Outside The Tunnel by Aztec Camera just before they signed to Rough Trade.

Wan Light was later recorded for You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, the debut album, but it’s likely that the Postcard single would have been more like the rough n ready demo version previously recorded or perhaps the version recorded for BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the Richard Skinner Show in January 1991.

You Old Eccentric was later issued on the b-side of the 12″ version of Felicity, but again it’s likely that the Postcard version would be more similar to the version recorded for BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the John Peel show in October 1980.

On that basis, and with thanks to Auntie Beeb, here is the Postcard single that never was, 81-6:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – Wan Light
mp3 : Orange Juice – You Old Eccentric

JC

DOING PENANCE

I’m barging the Saturday series out-of-the-way today so that I can follow-up after the welcome and varied responses to ‘True Confessions.’

First of all, as ever, a huge thank you to everyone for taking the time to fire over your view, thoughts and opinions; as I’ve said on so many occasions, it’s the quality of comments and guest contributions that make this venture all worthwhile. I had a feeling the idea of slaughtering a few sacred cows would prove controversial and so it sort of proved.

One thing I want to make very clear is that I’ve never liked the idea of using the blog to be negative and over the past eleven and a bit years, the percentage of posts that don’t celebrate music has been tiny. I’d even like to think that the ‘Had It. Lost It’ series is in some ways celebratory in that the idea is to reflect on how good, and indeed great, a singer or band had been only for it to go awry.

The concept behind ‘True Confessions’ was similar. This series, if it was going to be as such, was intended to look at one song in isolation by an act that I otherwise liked or admired; it also had the rider that the act had to come from a past era so that I couldn’t simply give the finger to something that was contemporary on the basis that I ‘didn’t get it’. I chose The Model on the basis that I have enjoyed a lot of the music produced over the years by Kraftwerk but had never warmed to their best known and arguably best-loved song, certainly among the general public.

If this comes across as conceited to some of you, then I’m truly sorry. But I do think there has been a slight misunderstanding of what I was hoping to achieve.

In essence, it was like trying to recreate an on-line version of an argument down the pub between folk who care and are passionate about music. This was never just to carp about a bad song as I don’t believe there is such a thing as a bad song – but there are quite a lot of songs that I don’t care for; indeed there are many more songs that I don’t like or enjoy than I have in the vinyl, cd and digital collection inside Villain Towers, but I have no intention of spending time or energy writing about them just for the sake of it.

I’ll try and illustrate this with an example from the comments. Alex considered that “the worst song ever in the history of songs has to be Paul Simon “You Can Call Me Al” which is from the “acclaimed” Graceland album.” I’m not sure if it is quite the worst ever in the history of songs, but it is one that I’ve never taken to. But at the same time, I’ve never really taken much to Paul Simon’s solo career and so don’t feel that I’m qualified to post a negative piece on You Can Call Me Al as I can’t consider it any sort of context.

It was also the case that any song that fell under the microscope for the series had to be one that was, on the face of it, universally acclaimed. As such, I’d never entertain the idea of any Oasis song featuring or the suggestion of Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds; in the case of the former, this was a band that divided opinion from Day 1 and in respect of the latter I think it’s fair to say that, despite its millions of worldwide sales, most Simple Minds fans don’t regard it as the band’s finest moment.

I agree wholeheartedly with Moz’s comment that “one person’s caviar is another’s fish paste sandwich, and we should all respect that”. The key word here is ‘respect’ and that was, I think, what C was alluding to when she said “I like the sound of this series….don’t mind the idea of interspersing the large number of posts about things we like with some about the things we don’t….want to understand the basis behind the opinions I don’t agree with …..as long as it doesn’t become too personal of course”.

Having weighed things up, and slept on it all overnight, I’m going to keep the feature going as an occasional series and will take guest contributions as long as they fit the criteria. That rules out CC doing anything on U2 and SWC is barred from frantically writing why The Smiths suck….but don’t worry too much buddy as I’m likely to make a confession about one of their songs.

One more quick visit to the box by me to wrap things up.

I could very happily go the rest of my life without ever hearing both sides of a particular 45 by Orange Juice. It doesn’t sit easy with me given how much I’ve written about the band over the years and that I was given a namecheck in the credits of the Coals to Newcastle boxset (such things should really be reserved for those who have blind faith!).

As I said in my OJ ICA ,

“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 had 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.”

I actually understated how much I disliked this particular single that was released in August 1982. It sounded as if the band wanted to spend the rest of their careers somewhere down the bill on WOMAD festivals. The songs are a real mishmash of influences, none of which had been part of any of the Postcard era or the debut album. I wasn’t ready for it and to be quite honest, I’ve never ever steadied myself to fully accept it as an Orange Juice recording. It’s really strange as the work Zeke puts into the songs, particularly on Hokoyo, would later be replicated in parts on Soul Mining by The The, and that’s an album I will never allow a bad word to be said about. Maybe it’s about time and place.

mp3 : Orange Juice – Two Hearts Together (7″ version)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Hokoyo (7″ version)

So there you have it. Orange Juice getting slated on T(n)VV.

Who’s next for the confessional box?

PS

Echorich indicated that he liked the idea of B-Side Gems. The old blog was full of such postings – indeed it was launched with the intention of offering up unknown and rarely heard b-sides on a regular basis at a time when the back catalogues of many 80s and 90s artists were obsolete. One of my first postings was a Lloyd Cole track which was impossible to get a hold of without having a 12” single – it’s since surfaced on a boxset of rarities.

mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Butterfly (Planet Anne Charlotte mix)

I’ll try and dig out some b-side postings from the archives and put them up over the upcoming festive period.

JC

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

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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