2019 album. Also available on vinyl.
The Blue Orchids first formed in Manchester, England, when Martin Bramah quit The Fall in 1979. They quickly signed to Rough Trade Records and they issued three singles and one album of an organ heavy post punk sound. Despite failing to make a national breakthrough they wound up backing former Velvet Underground singer Nico before Bramah made the band an occasional concern for the next three decades.
While recording 2018’s ‘Righteous Harmony Fist’, Blue Orchids messed about with a few covers of insanely obscure low-fi garage / psych tunes. The influence of drug-addled oddities from the previous generation’s underground has been apparent in the work of Martin Bramah since the start of The Fall, due in part to the influence of the real-life subject of “No Xmas For John Quays”, whose record collection was so packed with US garage classics that the song about him was borne of a sort of jealousy on Mark E. Smith’s part - with a collection like that, every day’s Christmas!
Few casual aficionados of rock music will know more than a song or two from this set - the likes of The Penny Saints and The Aardvarks and their kin not exactly being household names. In fact, of the seven ‘60s acts with songs covered here, none lasted more than a handful of singles. Complementing those songs are covers of songs by two more recent groups. The swirling keyboards of The Growlers’ “Pavement And The Boot” is distilled back to its fundamental garage essence, while Crystal Stilts’ two-minute original, “Love Is A Wave”, is slowed down and channelled back to the melodic pop wonder lingering beneath its Reid brothers buzzsaw and pays respect to the band, who’d themselves covered Blue Orchids’ “Low Profile” a few years back. Of special interest will be “Addicted To The Day”, the album’s key song, the words for which were recently found in a 1977 notebook of Bramah’s which at Mark E. Smith had borrowed and then scribbled down the ‘poem’ in thanks, to which Bramah added music. The haunting lines, “How could I have suspected my abysmal future / A doom which has haunted me / And turned me into a wreck and a parody”, are the centrepiece of the album, a concept compiled of bits and pieces of esoteric tunes, telling a tale of Faustian doom in a pact with forces of evil.
Martin and The Blue Orchids are already looking forward to the next album proper due in 2020. In the meantime this collection should keep fans swinging until then!