Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Orchids - A Look Back.

For cracking good pop you can't do much better than the Orchids. The classic Sarah Records band has finally come back into the picture for Act II. James Neiss's Les Temps Moderne (LTM) label just reissued all of their old releases. It is so good to hear their songs on CD with all of their non-album tracks in one place. The Orchids started in Glasgow in the mid-eighties-- dire years for any kind of independent pop. They were heavily influenced by other Scottish favorites like Josef K, Orange Juice, the Go-Betweens, essentially the Postcard Records stable of bands, as well as early Primal Scream. One touchstone band for The Orchids was the Wake, which was on Factory Records and later Sarah Records as well.

Their mini-album LYCEUM, here re-issued with early singles as bonus tracks-- including the songs from Bob Stanley's Caff label, is eight pitch-perfect songs of pure indiepop bliss. From the brilliant opening of "It's Only Obvious" with James Hackett's strident vocals to the ecstatic joy of "Caveman" with its oblique political references, and the genius chorus of "The York Song", this disc will put you in a happy mood. The bonus tracks available include the pure pop of "I've got a habit"-- with the line "I'm drinking Iron-Bru and I'm thinking of you", the song "Apologies" with its "Sha-la-la yeah" chorus, as well as an anti-poll tax song, "Defy the Law". This disc is a solid purchase for jangly indiepop lovers of all kinds.

Up next is UNHOLY SOUL + SINGLES, it sees the band experimenting more with synthesizers and samplers on occasion, getting more into echoing the finer points of Sixties pop. A few of the tracks also have the soulful vocal talents of Pauline Hynds, this is the disc that has "Peaches"-- with Pauline singing "Get yourself high, feed your soul, set yourself free", one of the tracks that introduced me to the Orchids as it also appears on the Sarah 100 compilation "There and Back Again Lane". The Orchids are clearly moving towards a more psychedelic sound, as the influence of Madchester tends to leak in on UNHOLY SOUL. This is also evident on the wonderful paring of "The Sadness of Sex (Pt 1)" with its dirty guitar and whistled chorus and "Waiting for the Storm", the latter being a nearly 8 minute epic of programmed beats and samples-- it nearly feels like Coldcut's remix of Eric B and Rakim's "Paid in Full". This album oscillates between jangly Sixties pop and electro pop that at first blush may seem slightly incongruous but really works as a whole the more you listen to it.

Their final album was STRIVING FOR THE LAZY PERFECTION, released here with their Thaumaturgy single plus some demo tracks. Their experiments going forward and backward that came through in UNHOLY SOUL are further magnified in this release. It opens with the noisy guitar of "Obsession No. 1" and moves to the programmed bliss of "Striving for the Lazy Perfection", finally nearing an end with the haunting "I've got to wake up to tell you my dreams" then sliding into "the Perfect Reprise" with its recollection of the earlier track. Pauline Hynds also appears on this album to bring a feminine touch to a handful of songs. This disc has its jangly songs like "The Searching" and "Welcome to my Curious Heart" but it primarily leans toward electronic pop. The classic track "A Kind of Eden" is here, which was the Orchids' contribution to Elefant Records MONTECARLO compilation. My favorite track on this disc has to be the pretty electro-pop of "Avignon", which contains a sample that was also used on Acuarela Records' mainstays Emak Bakia's second album "Despues". The electro tracks on this disc also remind me of a pop-friendly Ultramarine.

Too many good songs are on each of these releases to do without one. LYCEUM provides a good introduction and will please any lover of good lo-fi pop, UNHOLY SOUL builds on the earlier template with more instrumentation and female vocals, STRIVING FOR THE LAZY PERFECTION further carries these experiments out to a heavenly conclusion. I've been told that the band has reformed and is currently working on new material. With a potential release in 2006, LTM's reissues provide the perfect refresher course for one of the most overlooked and consistently excellent indiepop bands out there.


66 minutes, features the 1989 mini album Lyceum plus their early singles.
Full tracklist: It's Only Obvious, A Place Called Home, Caveman, The York Song, Carrole-Anne, Hold On, Blue Light, If You Can't Find Love, + I've Got a Habit, Apologies, Give Me Some Peppermint Freedom, Defy the Law, Underneath the Window Underneath the Sink, Tiny Words, Walter, What Will We Do Next, As Time Goes By, Yawn, An Ill Wind that Blows, All Those Things.

70 minutes, Originally released in 1991.
Full tracklist: Me and the Black and White Dream, Women Priests and Addicts, Bringing You the Love, Frank De Salvo, Long Drawn Sunday Night, Peaches, Dirty Clothing, Moon Lullaby, Coloured Stone, The Sadness of Sex (Pt 1), Waiting for the Storm, You Know I'm Fine, + Bemused, Confused and Bedraggled, Pelican Blonde, Tropical Fishbowl, How Does That Feel, Sigh, Something for the Longing, Farewell Dear Bonnie, On a Sunday.

67 minutes (18 tracks) Originally released in 1994, The five bonus tracks are culled from the 1992 single Thaumaturgy plus demo tracks.
Full tracklist: Obsession No. 1, Striving for the Lazy Perfection,The Searching, Welcome to my Curious Heart, Avignon, A Living Ken and Barbie, Beautiful Liar, A Kind of Eden, Prayers to St Jude, Lovechild, Give a Little Honey, I've Got to Wake Up to Tell You My Dreams, The Perfect Reprise,+ Thaumaturgy, I Was Just Dreaming, Between Sleeping and Waking, It's Ours, The Letter.


Anonymous said...

any news on the latest recordings from this band?
would love to hear it.

Anonymous said...

This on line radio station has played them and they sounded great.

Anonymous said...

It's so lovely to read praise for this amazing band from fellow fans. And isn't it great to have them back? :)

Anonymous said...

A new Song by The Orchids can be heard on Soundwave a programme on, shows starts at in the uk

Anonymous said...

v.24: Endless Summer edition

A CD complitation that includes an exclusive new track from

The Orchids

The first new release in over ten years from The Glasgow band

(track 6, CD 2).
THE ORCHIDS: Another Saturday Night (Darla) 5:25

USA4D0617525 Exclusive track.
All catalog reissued by LTM. New release forthcoming:
Good To Be A Stranger. Glasgow, Scotland.

Available from
Download this song from: iTunes

Anonymous said...

Soundwave will be playing a new song off The Orchids first album in 13 years....

Soundwave on will be playing an exclusive track from The Orchids new album "Good to be a Stranger," the first album in 13 years.

The show details are as follows:

Sunday 3rd September 0700am online and on FM in New Zealand

Monday 7pm UK & 1800 GMT/2000 CET online and on 94.2 & 94.8FM in Slovakia which can be heard in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, now on Sky channel 0195 and Eurobird satellite at 28 degrees east 12.523Ghz horizontal

all details from

Anonymous said...

The Orchids new album
"Good to be a Stranger" is available for free right now at (selling two weeks early)
not in shops until 5th March
as part of the 25 downloads for free trial offer.
just sign up, download and cancel your account before the end of the month
and it will not cost anything

all the best
The Orchids

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments in the past, most welcome.

anyway this is little update on us to let you know that you can find the Orchids on

our song "another saturday night" as featured in the last episode of "Falcon beach"

all the best

The Orchids

John said...

Hi - I have a radio show on George Mason University Campus called Independents Uncovered.

Members of The Orchids will be "on the air live" with me on June 9.

Date: June 9, 2008
Time: 8 PM Virginia Time
(if you're in Scotland it'll be June 10, 1 AM :)

Please spread the word.


Check out the show at:
Click Listen Live

For more info on my show go to: