Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Edwyn Collins & Orange Juice, A Casual Introduction 1981 / 2001

What was I thinking?  At some point this Edwyn Collins career retrospective came into the house in a batch of new CDs, I must have listened to at least some of it, and it got shelved collins retrospectiveand forgotten.  When I was putting together the podcast that highlighted the extraordinary range of music that has been coming out of Scotland for the past 30 years (What’s Up With Scotland?) I dug it out of the rack and listened again.  It knocked me flat on my ass – Collins is terrific.

Collins’ band Orange Juice was at the forefront of the neo-pop scene coming out of Glasgow in the late 1970’s and listening to the Orange Juice cuts on “A Casual Introduction” you can hear why.  Collins wrote exceptional pop songs that drew on past pop styles without slavishly copying any of them.  Each song on this collection sounds like every instrumental part, every hook, every mixing decision has been carefully considered, combined for maximum effect and then buffed to a high sheen.  There doesn’t appear to be any form of pop music that Collins is afraid to incorporate into his songs and, for the most part, he handles everything he takes on with skill and style.  He even does a deadly serious cover of the old Frank Sinatra chestnut “Witchcraft” which should be awful but somehow he manages to pull it off. 

For all his talent, Collins’ career has been spotty at best.  He had an international hit with “A Girl Like You”, which leads off this collection, but that was basically it.  He has a reputation for being a perfectionist who can be difficult to work with.  That may be so but his perfectionism is producing almost perfect pop songs.  Sometimes you don’t tune in to a musician because you aren’t in the right musical place to hear what he or she is doing.  Sometimes you’re just listening with closed ears and need to get out of your rut.  I don’t know what my problem was when “A Casual Introduction” first came in the house but I’m awfully glad I finally woke up.  Be nice for Collins if others did too.

Music from this CD can be heard on Tuned In To Music Podcast 003 – What’s Up With Scotland?


07/31/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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