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From Severe to Serene

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Album Review

LTM's well-regarded abilities to get comprehensive reissues together continue with the Blue Orchids' efforts, though this is perhaps one of the craziest quilts the label has yet put together. There are two John Peel sessions from the band's earliest days and a slew of live cuts from around the same time, but smack dab in the middle is the one EP from Thirst, a semi-interim band led by Martin Bramah in the late '80s. Still, what matters most of all is the availability of the music, and more than a few obsessives (Fall-inspired or otherwise) who had held onto their crumbling tapes of the original Peel broadcasts were doubtless thrilled at the appearance of this disc. Said radio recordings take up the first seven tracks of the disc, with the first covering the "Work"/"The House That Faded Out" days (the version of the former is really grand, Bramah's end of song monologue a spot-on rant) and the second selections from their justly legendary Greatest Hits album. Bramah's singing here is just wonderful, and the takes on "No Looking Back" and "Sun Connection" in particular are stellar. As for the live cuts, while the lack of fidelity is duly noted in the liner notes, the performances are still enjoyable and readily audible. The Thirst cuts do differ from the rest of the material, not least because Una Baines' keyboards are completely absent, but the easygoing post-punk power of the band and Bramah's gift for commanding but not overbearing vocals make the songs enjoyable enough additions (though "Let Go" is a bit curious, like an '80s movie soundtrack party song). The expected exhaustive band history fills out the liner notes with plenty of detail about the group and its releases.


Formed: 1981

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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From Severe to Serene, Blue Orchids
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