Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Orange Juice - You Can't Hide Your Love Forever

Orange Juice
You Can't Hide Your Love Forever

Released 1982 on Polydor
Reviewed by Robin Tripp, 04/05/2007ce

1. Falling and Laughing (3:51)
2. Untitled Melody (2:04)
3. Wan Light (2:23)
4. Tender Object (4:25)
5. Dying Day (3:00)
6. L.O.V.E. Love (3:32)
7. Intuition Told Me, Pt. 1 (1:09)
8. Upwards and Onwards (2:27)
9. Satellite City (2:43)
10. Three Cheers for Our Side (2:50)
11. Consolation Prize (2:50)
12. Felicity (2:34)
13. In a Nutshell (4:15)

The broader aspects of the career of Orange Juice - one of the more important indie acts of the early 80's pop scene - can be found on the recent retrospective compilation, The Glasgow School. By the time this album appeared, the band had already been together for over half a decade and had released a handful of singles on the legendary Postcard label, before attempting to cut a more lo-fi debut in the form of Ostrich Churchyard (eventually released posthumously in 1992). The band scraped that garage-rock recording and decided to re-record a debut album that drew more on a set of sparking soul and pop inflections set against a more traditional indie guitar sound popular at the time. The result was You Can't Hide Your Love Forever; one of the best and most underrated pop albums of the 1980's.

The overall sound of You Can't Hide Your Love has certain similarities with an act like Dexys Midnight Runners, or maybe even The Style Council; with the integration of soulful horns and keyboard rhythms working in harmony alongside the more traditional guitar, drums and bass combination. However, at the same time, it also has a lot in common with a band like The Smiths, with certain tracks here predating the jazzy guitar pop sound of classics Smiths' tracks like The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, Ask, Panic, and The Cemetery Gates. However, Orange Juice singer and chief songwriter Edwyn Collins was launching his dairy to music long before Morrissey decided to ruminate on meat being murder and suffering little children, with the lyrical subject matter here certainly sharing that knowing, self-deprecating style that Morrissey would make famous, both as a solo artist as a member of The Smiths, but with Collins going further to document the foibles of young love, directionless youth and the Scottish hipster scene of the late 70's and early 80's. Like the Smiths, there are also some references to the chiming pop of The Byrds, particularly in the use of twelve-string guitars layered on top of one another to create a plethora of melodies and counter melodies that really compliment those crooning, idiosyncratic vocals.

Really, the album sounds as fresh today as it must have sounded in 1982, with the sound and style of Orange Juice acting as a major influence on the likes of Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian, and more recently the sound and ideology of the über-successful Franz Ferdinand (incidentally, both from Scotland and both raised on a diet of acts like The Fall, Orange Juice, Josef K. and Felt). You could also see it as a direct influence on the kind of indie-music that would follow with fey, hyper-sensitive acoustic guitar strummers like The Servants, The Pastels, The Field Mice and The Railways Children, as well as the witty, working-class landscapes of Half Man Half Biscuit and The Wedding Present. There's no real hint of a dated, 80's production, with the OJ's going for a shimmering 60's Joe Meek/Phil Spector-style sound with further elements of the 70's new wave of bands like The Modern Lovers, Television and The Talking Heads adding nuance and panache. Here, the overall sound of the album is perfectly introduced on that sublime opening track, Falling and Laughing, with it's classic Tom Verlaine-style guitar sound fusing with the soul element of the production and Collins' heart-felt refrains ("I'm not saying we should build a city of tears / all I'm saying is I'm alone and consequently / only my dreams satisfy the real need of my heart... / and I resist").

For me, the whole album fits together surprisingly well, never falling into the trap of sounding like a collection of singles like a lot of today's indie-acts. The style wavers between horn-filled soul expressions like the Talking Heads-esque Satellite City, the James Kirk penned Wan Light and the great Al Green cover L.O.V.E. Love, with more acoustic indie-type songs like Intuition Told Me (Part One), Consolation Prize and the lovely second track, Untitled Melody. On the whole, the songs written by lead guitarist James Kirk (Wan Light, Three Cheers For Our Side) are more complex pieces, with female backing vocals and dexterous guitar arrangements merging with horns and keyboards, with the exception of his best song on the album, the anthemic Felicity, which remains one of The OJ's most iconic tracks and is a great piece of guitar pop in the classic, early 80's sense. Collins' songs on the other hand, which are really the main bulk of the album, are the more personal, slightly melancholic pieces that you can imagine being the main inspiration by the aforementioned Belle & Sebastian, in particular, their albums Tigermilk and If You're Feeling Sinister.

My favourites from the album, besides the storming Felicity, include Untitled Melody, in which Collins tells the same little story of love from the perspective of both lovers ("you're so transparent, I can guess without question / you need some thing or other, to cover your expression / I'll buy you some sunspecs from the local / hipster's store / you need me more or less... / I need you more and more"), the more rousing Tender Object (with it's barrage of lyrics... Collins verbally tripping over himself as he tries to fit more words into an already bulging melody; "here I go around and round / sick inside and eyes to the ground / looking for a sign to set me free / in my chic cold misery... / step we gaily on we go / heel to heel and toe to toe / lock me away, I need to unwind / did you ever hear anything so unkind / ...from your window?"), and the aching Consolation Prize, in which Collins' finally admits defeat with the aching refrain; "I'll never be man enough for you".

Collins's lyrics, though filled with wit and imagination, are totally honest and believable, as he paints these portraits of boredom and unrequited love against a backdrop of arcades, discos and cafeterias. The album winds down with the short and sweet In A Nutshell, a song that recalls the lush melancholy of Untitled Melody and Consolation Prize, including the unbelievably bitter lyric, "I looked deep within my pocket, for the note you sent to me / to put it in a nutshell, you're a heartless mercenary". The Japanese import that I have also included two bonus tracks; James Kirk's great guitar pop song You Old Eccentric and the great up-tempo pop of Intuition Told Me (Part Two), which is a great way to round of what is, and always was, one of the greatest debut albums ever recorded.

NOTE: I originally submitted this review almost a year ago. However, in a fit of depression, I deleted it, along with several other reviews, as I saw them as embarrassing, badly written, and lacking in perspective. Listening to the album tonight, I decided to dig out the original draft of this review, and was surprised to find that it seemed to make a lot more sense now then it did when I initially wrote it. In essence, I got the feeling that I'd perhaps been wrong to delete it, and, as a result, I've decided to re-submit it with some minor-alterations, as really, it's an album that I adore. I'm sure I'll come back to this review in subsequent months and tinker with it some more, but for the time being, it's here to stay. I think.

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