Monday, April 28, 2008

Orange crush

collinsI was a little too young to fully appreciate the impact of the short-lived but celebrated Postcard record label ("The Sound of Young Scotland") in its heyday, but I followed the subsequent careers of the label's acts (Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, Paul Haig of Josef K, and, to a lesser extent, The Go-Betweens) throughout my adolescence, and it's hard to open a magazine these days without contemporary bands like Franz Ferdinand or Camera Obscura acknowledging the debt they owe to Alan Horne's pioneering imprint.

So it was fortuitous for me that two of the labels mainstays (the aforementioned Paul Haig and Edwyn Collins of Orange Juice) played within 8 days of each other recently in Edinburgh. It was even more fortuitous that Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera is currently deputising as guitarist in Edwyn's band, and so within a short space of time, I was lucky enough to see the three major artists associated with Postcard up close and personal. In addition, a companion noted that Dave Ruffy was tanning the skins in Edwyn's band. I was aware of his past as drummer for The Ruts (and I know people who swear that The Ruts vs. The Mad Professor's Rhythm Collision Dub is the greatest work of art in western history- hello Richard Oakes) , but was unaware till today that he had also served time with Aztec Camera as well as playing with Edwyn in the days when he was signed to Alan McGee's Elevation. To complete the Postcard-tastic experience, Malcolm Ross who played with Josef K, Aztec Camera and Orange Juice was spotted in the audience... surely some enterprising promoter can rope in Robert Forster and put on a Postcard revue?

I've already written a brief review of the Haig show below. However, for sheer emotional impact, Collins' and Frame's appearance at the Queens Hall last Monday had the edge; emotional because this was one of Collins' first live appearances since two well-documented and near-fatal brain haemorrages and a consequent bout of MRSA two years ago. The strokes he suffered have left him extremely unsteady on his feet, he had trouble speaking clearly and spent the gig, quite reasonably, perched on a stool; however the fact that he was present in any short of shape was nothing short of miraculous, especially as he had been unable to speak or walk two years ago. It was entirely correct, therefore that he and his band were greeted with the sort of standing ovation normally reserved for the likes of Nelson Mandela. I saw the show with a couple of people involved in rehabilitation therapy, and while their attendance was out of musical rather than medical interest, it was heartening to hear their positive prognoses on Edwyn's condition.

You can download a recent podcast where Roddy and Edwyn converse here:

It's of interest partly because of the content, but also because you can hear the extent of Edwyn's recovery and his struggle to overcome his limitations. You also get to hear that his familiar hyuk-hyuking laugh is still intact.

The audience's appreciation was rewarded with three gems straight out of the gate, Falling and Laughing and Poor Old Soul, two of the early Postcard singles, and What Presence? from Orange Juice's purple patch c. 1983. "It's good to be back," he intoned with some difficulty, to deafening cheers. He wasn't quite able to hit the high notes on Rip It Up or A Girl Like You, but then again he wasn't really able to before his stroke, either. The interplay between Frame and Collins was quite touching, nearly thirty years of friendship and amicable rivalry informing their onstage rapport.

The show concluded with brisk run-throughs of Blue Boy and Don't Shilly Shally; kudos to him for coming back on to do an encore, something even the able-bodied Paul Haig didn't manage the week previously.

Now, at this stage in the blog post, you're probably expecting an MP3, right? I know that's why most of you come here. I'm not under any illusions. You're probably hoping for a rare B-side. Or possibly Simply Thrilled, Honey. Well, instead you're getting a sensitive and reverential cover of the song that made Edwyn an overnight millionaire. Please see below for A Girl Like You by a little-known band called The Shirehorses*. Enjoy.

Download A Girl Like You by Edwyn Bobbins (The Shirehorses) mp3 (deleted Aug 2009)

* aka Mark and Lard


Irk The Purists said...

Postscript -

I just read Edwyn's Observer interview from this Sunday (,,2275801,00.html)
and wanted to see the very literal interpretation of Rip It Up on TOTP that he mentions in passing (it's at Well blow me if that's not Jim "Foetus" Thirlwell on sax! Check it!

Digital Plamf said...

Aye, URL, sorry about that - (pasted at foot of comment).
For what it's worth - my fave OJ tracks were the ones they did with Bovell. Bovell is a fookin' genius. His work with Linton Kwesi Johnson is another fave.


DPLAMF said...



Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...
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Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...

a very sensitively written tribute, irk. i have temporarily stopped writing my "time on the turn of the 80s scene articles" - i suspect i'm the only woman alive who has shagged both roddy and edwyn, but it's a shame that after all this time i'm still quite obviously stigmatised as an ex to be avoided, especially after roddy wrote in one of the sundays that i was his first serious girlfriend and he always wondered what happened to me.

i went to roddy's gig in buxton last year and it was quite honestly one of the most unpleasant nights of my life. having refused to have any contact with me, roddy was quite obviously completely freaked out at my presence in the audience (i'd been on his forum briefly talking about planning to attend the gig.) and for only the second time in his entire career, had to walk off stage mid number, which he qualified by telling the audience that the lights were so low he was worried that someone in the audience was going to jump up and stab him.

it wasn't big, clever, or funny, and the audience were very uncomfortable. it was a total shambles and completely unprofessional - truly shameful and the fact that after 25 years he was repeating history by once again twisting his own insecurities into the demonisation of me, reduced me to floods of tears whilst brian sat next to me, helplessly holding my hand.

if roddy had had the guts and courage (never two qualities i'd associate with him) to answer my email and break the ice by saying hello before the gig, all that drama-queen self-indulgent adolescent poncing could have been avoided. really, he lost what small amount of remaining respect i had left for him that night. he pretty much shat on me when i was a lass, and twenty five years later he did it again.

it's very, very rare that i publically slate someone; i did a total whitewash job in my blog article about him, but one day i'll tell the truth. he's one of those sad males who refuse to just bloody well grow up, and are so far up their own arse they're in danger of turning into a black hole. when a middle-aged man is still trading off the brief glory days of his youth and has no wife, and no children, there’s usually a pretty good reason why; women aren't stupid. the only good thing i've got left to say about him is that he's giving edwyn his support.

as for edwyn, he is a poppet, he was always a total gentleman to me. i was heartbroken when i read about his hemorrhages in the paper and i’m really glad he's performing again. he'd do far better to be gigging with paul haig than roddy though. a man is known by the company he keeps and this is why i've not given edwyn the publicity he deserves.

Irk The Purists said...

Oh. My. Lord.

That has set the comments bar sky-high. How great was that, readers?

It's a darn shame. I was never very big on Aztec Camera, I have to say, but he (Roddy F) was so gracious and self-effacing (and technically perfect) the night I saw him with EC that I was somewhat smitten. Now I've had my rose-tinted specs removed, I'll have to re-evaluate my revised position vis-a-vis RF. :-(

I know I shouldn't really try and inject any levity into the proceedings, but...

>>i'm the only woman alive who has shagged both roddy and edwyn

Not both at the same time, shurely? :-)

>>he pretty much shat on me when i was a lass

I'm not even going to go there...

Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...
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Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...

> Now I've had my rose-tinted specs removed, I'll have to re-evaluate my revised position vis-a-vis RF. :-(

no irk, you certainly mustn't. that is my own personal experience. one should never judge a person by what others say, only by their own experience.

> Not both at the same time, shurely? :-)

ha ha. no. although i was labelled as a whore by roddy, i wasn't one. i even wrote a song about it in 1983. hey, i think i'll post the lyrics on my blog. and when i get my new samsung g track mic i think i'll record it on one of my new guitars and bung the fucker on youtube, fuck it, its about time it was recorded, my answer to oblivious has been sitting in a drawer unrecorded for 25 years.

> I'm not even going to go there...

no not literally you goofball! :)

anyway mr irk, as usual you have totally inspired me this morning. i have been deeply unhappy about the blog article i wrote about roddy ever since i wrote it as it was such a whitewash. i was torn between a desire to tell the truth and sticking to my guns of not saying owt about someone unless you can say summat nice. in the end the truth lost out and historians and archivists should be accurate.

so this morning ive completely rewritten my blog entry, "the postcard connection", part of the "my time on the turn of the 80s music scene" series which you can find on my blog in the articles about artists and musicians section.

and this time i've told the truth. i haven't posted letters or anything (an appalling practice) just told it like it is. and if i come across as bitter and twisted, fuck it, because i'm certainly not bitter or twisted.

i never think about roddy nowadays and apart from the blog article and the disastrous buxton gig last year, haven't for years. it's just that when the subject arises then it irks me (fnar) that i haven't told the truth. i feel a lot better now, knowing that i'm being honest. and maybe it will encourage roddy to stop being so pompous and start fulfilling his talent again.

to end on a nice note - i've posted a lovely pic on the revised postcard article of edwyn which i took at rafters in manchester in 1982, i believe. you can use it on your blog if you want to.

now, bugger, see what's happened? you've inspired me so much irk that i've not finished off chapter 18, the kitchen worksurface of my sexually explicit new novel, Mother-in-Law, Son-in-Law. chapter 18 is going to be extremely erotic and i was going to have a lorra fun writing it! tsk. naughty me :) and now its time for a walk round the park with my neighbour so i cant write!

BrianT said...

Yes it was a funny thing that gig in Buxton weren't it? RF participates in the Killermont Street forum to the extent that he must've know you were there. Your musing on 'Oblivious' being about your break up with the 17 year-old Roddy must have also caught his eye, so it was pretty gobsmacking when, 3 songs (?) into the set, he just spat "Ah, fuck it! Let's get this over with!" and rattled off a speed-version of 'Oblivious', with none of the soul or feeling it deserved. Followed not long after by he stalking off stage, and a nervous re-entrance aome considerable time later, it all suggested a man deeply unsettled by something. Did he think you were a stalker, harbouring undying, obsessive love for him after all these years?
What did he think you were going to do? Scream "I LOVE YOU RODDY! IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU, NO-ONE CAN!!" before pulling a gun and blowing his head off?!
Shame, because I'd wanted to see him perform ever since, as a 20 year old Motorhead fan, I used to have sneaky listens to 'High Land Hard Rain' on my mate Peter Houghton's stereo whilst he was out.
I've seen the photos of you and Roddy, Jude. I know what happened. People can be funny about their exes, particularly their first loves, but how long ago are we talking? Nearly 30 years?
Tsk! Artists and their sensitive egos, paranoia and self-importance eh?
Roddy needs to be locked in a darkened room, listening to 'Obscured' by Spring Heel Jack on a repeating loop, until he gets things in perspective.

Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...
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Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...

that is well weird brian. the first time i dont ring you at lunchtime for months and you find me in cyberspace and come charging to my rescue. youre just a total legend.

oh, and roddy wasn't my first love. i did love roddy, but i wasn't in love with him. my first love was mick paterson, who went on to manage a certain ratio, whose gigs i always enjoyed far more than joy division's, as mr morley well knows, wink.

Irk The Purists said...

Oi! You two! Get a room!

sexy said...