Nothing to do with next year’s referendum but instead an occasional series that will take a look at some of the finest records released on Scottish independent labels from the 1970s to the present day. And to kick things off:
ORANGE JUICE – BLUE BOY/LOVESICK (POSTCARD, 1980)
West Princes Street is situated in what is considered by many to be Glasgow’s bohemian quarter, the West End, a part of the city that almost inevitably finds the adjective trendy affixed to it. Running parallel to a section of Great Western Road dotted with pubs and only a shortish walk away from both Glasgow Uni and Charing Cross, no. 185, West Princes Street, a tenement flat rented by Alan Horne was, at the dawn of the 1980s, about to become the focal point of the independent music movement north of the border.
The first Orange Juice single Falling and Laughing had seen the band and label immediately feted by local fans and the London-based music press, well, apart from Danny Baker in NME, who accidentally reviewed the B-side, the instrumental, Moscow, calling the band ‘a lightweight brother of The Durutti Column’.
He also reviewed the debut single of another young Scottish band on the same page, deeming Chance Meeting by Edinburgh’s Josef K ‘a passable Lou Reed’. They were promptly signed by Postcard and Horne booked time at Castle Sound Studios in Pencaitland near Edinburgh, where in the space of a day both Postcard acts recorded their second singles, Orange Juice laying down Lovesick and Blue Boy in the morning with Josef K using the time remaining to record Radio Drill Time and Crazy to Exist.
2,000 copies of each 45 was pressed and to save on printing costs 4000 shared sleeves were printed up and folded over in half, one way for Orange Juice, the other way for Josef K. Horne and the Orange Juice lads then must have sent long hours personalising their batch of the Sharon Acker designed black and white sleeves.
I’ve seen a number of these with quite colourful and eye-catching artwork but my own current copy, as you can see, has only some fairly minimal interventions, some straight and some squiggly lines drawn in blue, yellow and green felt pen.
As for my first copy of the record, that went missing in action, when and where I have no idea. That cover featured a ginger cat and multi-coloured hatched lines which I decided one night to ‘improve’ on by felt penning both faces pink and adding hundreds of dots in a variety of colours all over the outside of the tilted square that contains the main illustration, so it ended up looking kind of Roy Lichtenstein meets aboriginal art. This probably wasn’t one of my more inspired ideas although at the time I thought it looked fabby.
Released in August 1980, Blue Boy and Lovesick helped send the buzz emerging around Postcard into overdrive, and two of the most influential critics of the time, NME’s Paul Morley and Dave McCullough of Sounds began an Orange Juice praisefest within the pages of their respective inkies, McCullough headed north to investigate the ‘The Sound of Young Scotland’ and returned to London proclaiming Postcard as ‘the brightest hope I have seen for a very long time’ in a two page article Postcard From Paradise, while Paul Morley met up with Alan Horne and Edwyn Collins and wrote: ‘Orange Juice compose breath-taking pop that extends the art form still further, and have the look and humour, as well as the songs, to be enormously successful.’
Needless to say, additional copies were soon having to be pressed to keep up with demand, though this time they came in a plain ‘cowboy’ style sleeve that came without the added artwork.