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When Una Baines (keyboards, vocals) and Martin Bramah (guitar, vocals) quit the Fall in the late ‘70s, some of that group's irreverent, punk-injected spirit continued to flow through their veins when they formed the Blue Orchids in Manchester, England in 1979. With the addition of Rick Goldstar (guitar), Steve Toyne (bass), and Joe Kin (drums), Baines and Bramah reaped critical acclaim with their brainchild. The Blue Orchids signed with Rough Trade in 1980 and their first single, "The Flood/Disney Boys", drew comparisons to the Velvet Underground's psychedelic weirdness. Ironically, the Blue Orchids became the supporting band for former Velvets chanteuse Nico during her tour of Europe a year later. The group's debut LP, The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain), was released in 1981 to excellent reviews. The Blue Orchids' uncompromising sound – half-sung or spoken lyrics, drugged-out keyboards, jagged guitars – made them favorites on the U.K. independent charts. In 1982, after recording the EP Agents of Change, the band split up. Baines and Bramah revived the Blue Orchids in 1984 with new members. The resurrected Blue Orchids began performing in clubs again and released a 12" single in 1985. The group landed gigs in Austria and Germany before disbanding once more. Baines then joined the Fates while Bramah collaborated with ex-Fall drummer Karl Burns in Thirst. Bramah collected another set of musicians to record as the Blue Orchids in 1991, releasing the 12" single "Diamond Age". Although somewhat overshadowed by other Manchester acts such as Joy Division, New Order, and the Smiths, the Blue Orchids' influence lived on in the Hammond organ-powered grooves of Inspiral Carpets; moreover, Aztec Camera covered "Bad Education" from The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain). In 2002, Cherry Red Records compiled A Darker Bloom: The Blue Orchids Collection, a retrospective of their work from 1980 to the early ‘90s.
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