Digging up buried treasure from the depths of our collections. This week – Jamie Crossan basks in the lesser-known melodies and dry wit of the magic piper of love.
Considering the waves of overdue and well-deserved respect that’s lapped on Edwyn Collins’ doorstep of late, it’s remarkable that ‘A Girl Like You’ remains his only solo commercial hit. His elder statesman status and the admiration which his determined recovery from his 2005 brain haemorrhage earned him has obscured the fact that, for many years, his records went pretty much unnoticed bar one radio hit.
Edwyn epitomised Scotland’s new wave of cool art-rock troubadours during the ’80s as frontman for Postcard Records’ hippest band Orange Juice, writing instant classics such as ‘Rip It Up’ and ‘Blue Boy’ that inspired so many. The Orange Juice influence still remains strong, with both Franz Ferdinand and The Cribs – who loved Edwyn so much they got him to produce arguably their finest album ‘The New Fellas’ – borrowing from their iconic sound; but, sadly, his equally brilliant solo work has failed to inspire the same legion of copycats.
‘Gorgeous George’ is Edwyn’s third solo album and his most perfect. Yes, it is the album with THAT song on it; but it isn’t even close to being the best tune on here. In fact, we’re gonna put it in fourth place behind the snarling ‘The Campaign For Real Rock’, the sweeping weepy ‘Low Expectations’ and one of his finest songs, the tender, heartstring-tugging paranoia of ‘Make Me Feel Again’ – whose stunning chorus has taken on new meaning since his illness: “When you turned your head/When I called your name/All I need’s your love/To make me feel again”.
‘If You Could Love Me’ bleeds the heart with its sensuous northern soul and is a true testament to Edwyn’s lyrical craftsmanship, while the alt.country of ‘North Of Heaven’ shows Edwyn’s humorous side with the brilliant line: “Some mother’s talking ’bout Guns N’ Roses/As if I give a fuck/At best I think they suck”.
‘Gorgeous George’ is a true gem, as captivating, if not more so, than Edwyn’s stunning output with Orange Juice. You’ll have never heard an album like this before.