Classic Compilation: Orange Juice – The Glasgow School

So, who are the most influential British Indie band of all time?

Okay, so I’m going to assume that almost all of you said The Smiths. It is after, all the, predictable and obvious choice. However such cultural myopia is also doing great disservice to Orange Juice, the Edwyn Collins fronted band of indie pioneers that Morrissey and Marr followed in the wake of. For all their inherent greatness, The Smiths effectively honed a style that Orange Juice had utilised on the genuinely tiny Postcard Records label some years prior. That’s the big secret that the Cool Police won’t admit to, the fact that despite what common assumption says, the so called “Ultimate Indie Band”, for all the sycophantic praise heaped upon them in the decades since, weren’t actually doing anything all that revolutionary. Okay, so Orange Juice never managed to get the music press eating out of their hand in he same way that The Smiths did, but that’s not to say that they were not worthy of similar praise and attention.

As The Glasgow School, a compilation of early material, demonstrates, classics like “Simply Thrilled Honey”, “(To Put it in a) Nutshell” and particularly “Poor Old Soul (Part 2)” showed that Orange Juice just weren’t another miserable post-punk band, but had a genuine love of the pop genre, and boasted enough chiming licks and lyrical ideas to build an internationally successful career out of. Sadly they just didn’t have the media support or get the breaks they deserve, so they are remembered as little more than a footnote in the history of guitar music here in the UK, and hopelessly obscure everywhere else in the world. They’re the band that Belle and Sebastian like to name drop in interviews, and that seems to be their lot in life.

Okay, so The Glasgow School doesn’t paint the whole picture, just the early years, but as so much of the material on here didn’t appear on their four albums, it acts as a prologue to them instead. It is the place to start if you want to experience Orange Juice chronologically, but can work as a prequel if you decide tho dive into the studio albums first and only explore The Glasgow School later.

Listening to The Glasgow School nearly four decades after the material on it was first released, it’s surprising how well the work of Orange Juice has aged when compared to almost anything else from the early 80s – it’s natural and organic sounds being out of step with the production techniques of the time. In fact it contains all the evidence you need in the sumptuously presented selection of songs for us to hail Edwyn Collins as an overlooked national treasure, and that’s not even taking into account his rather splendid solo career. All this, and he doesn’t even have the same air of pompous self-importance that can make Morrisey so damn annoying.

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