11 August 2005

orange juice - "blokes on 45" (from the glasgow school lp, available for purchase here.)

if i was the dictator of pop, these are the first two edicts i would issue:

1 a band's first single must be an introductory affair, along the lines of "(theme from) the monkees" and "creeque alley."

2 in lieu of greatest hits, a band must create a "stars on 45" medley of their popular favorites, a la prince's "purple medley" and, er, stars on 45.

orange juice, whose the glasgow school was just released in the states on tuesday, satisifies both of these in one song (which is, of course, paradoxical, but i'll let them slide on the introduction-as-first-single requirement). "blokes on 45," recorded for a peel session, is a medley of their postcard singles, a sort-of aural "goodbye to all that," comprising "falling & laughing," "moscow," "lovesick," "blue boy," "breakfast time," "simply thrilled honey," and "poor old soul (part one)." it begins, however, with a then-unreleased "satellite city," over which edwyn collins affords an introduction to the band's early fortunes:
we made trendy 45's just to keep ourselves alive. we had just signed off the dole when we made "poor old soul."
in the notes, drummer steven daly, perhaps out of professional jealousy, refers to the beat as "remedial disco thump": perhaps this is why he wasn't in the band when "rip it up was released." an orange juice reissue allows the lazy journalist an opportunity to mention oj's debt to that disco thump. in particular, in reviews for the album, i've seen numerous descriptions of the band as some sort of amalgam of chic and the velvet underground--as if that brings one any nearer the truth (indeed, they might just as well be describing the talking heads). what it neglects, naturally, is a lot of far less fashionable influences, like west coast rock, early 70's soul, and songs better known by their titles than by their artists, i.e. most of the great ones. (another gripe: the franz ferdinand connection. certainly, they're both scottish; they both make what is nominally rock music. it's the same kind of ghettoization at play in comparisons between bruce springsteen and bon jovi.)

what they also tend to leave out of the reviews is edwyn's position as a classic british eccentric, the linchpin between bryan ferry and morrissey, the type of eccentric--see also: kevin rowland and jarvis cocker--whose music, alas, rarely survives the trip across the atlantic. edwyn, however, is a survivor: as you may know, he suffered two brain hemorrhages recently but appears to be on the mend at long last. on the message board at his website, his wife, grace relayed the following:
i asked him if he had a message for all of you and he said "yes, disaster area," but followed it with his nutty laugh, which some of you may be familiar with.
yes, yes. godspeed, you old eccentric, you.

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