I 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