A quintessential British cult figure, Edwyn Collins is in large part responsible for the mass popularity of wimpy pop, from the Smiths to Teenage Fanclub. His early-80s Glaswegian neopop band Orange Juice happily embraced premeditated earnestness, naivete, and coyness amid untrained guitar jangle and, later, white-boy soul. While few bands made the mistake of directly emulating Orange Juice’s often insufferable sound, their impact was undeniable: slipping through the cracks between synth-pop disco and postpunk goth, Orange Juice liberated the simple pop song and enabled its return to the charts. (Collins also ran the influential Postcard label, which released the first records by Orange Juice, Josef K, and Aztec Camera, among others.) The band’s self-importance predictably led to their 1985 demise, and though Collins released a pair of decent solo records in the years following, the recent Gorgeous George (Bar/None), his third solo effort, is the first to deliver on the promise of Orange Juice. His once flitty warble has deepened into a quavery David Bowie/Iggy Pop croon, and it perfectly suits the new record’s mix of quasi soul and somber guitar pop. Much of the album is a scathing indictment of the music industry. “Some mother’s talking ’bout Guns N’ Roses / As if I give a fuck / At best I think they suck / I’m too preoccupied with my memories / Not nonentities,” he sings with unmitigated vitriol on “North of Heaven.” Harsh criticism of America’s commodification of alternative rock makes up “The Campaign for Real Rock”: “Your frazzled brains are putrefying / Repackaged, sold, and sanitized / The devil’s music exorcised.” He even launches a sarcastic attack on love songs with the European hit “A Girl Like You,” where he admits, “You’ve made me acknowledge the devil in me / I hope to God I’m talkin’ metaphorically.” Musically the album’s considerably tougher than his previous work. Joined by former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, Collins occasionally unleashes some stinging guitar, a real change from his old jangle. Ivy, a French-American trio who cover Orange Juice’s “I Guess I’m Just a Little Too Sensitive,” open. Thursday, September 14, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Gavin Evans.