Blue Orchids are built around enigmatic founder Martin Bramah. The story of this band goes back to 1979 after Bramah left The Fall (he briefly rejoined in 1989 for the ‘Extricate’ album before being ‘let go’ again by Mark E.Smith).
In a stop start career, Bramah appears to make records only when he feels like it and has a habit of disappearing soon after. Like many 80s bands before them (e.g. Icicle Works, Its Immaterial or China Crisis) most of the Blue Orchids' existence has been off the radar.
That said, this is the third official band release since 2016 so it’s fair to say that Bramah’s currently on a bit of a roll.
Co-founder Una Baines (another of The Fallen) is long gone but ‘Speed The Day’ retains the line-up from the last two albums and quirkily adds Australian electric ukulele player Tansy McNally who also did the cover art.
The album was “recorded in a brief moment of openness in the middle of a pandemic” and features nine original songs plus 25 Or 6 To 4, a fairly lame cover of Chicago’s classic single from 1969.
The whole record only lasts 34 minutes so brevity is the watchword.
These are perfectly serviceable songs but the x-factor is lacking with a sound that seems stuck in a time tunnel somewhere in the 1980s.
In Like A Clockwork Orange, a comparison to Kubrick’s 1971 film disintegrates mid-song into some mad ranting. Meet The Maker references the Velvet Underground’s ‘I’ll be your mirror’ so inevitably harks back to the time when Blue Orchids played in Manchester with Nico.
The closing track jumps forward in time to the 22nd Century but the music on this record is, to invert a Fall song title Bramagh played on, more about Pasts than Futures.
Hear the album on Bandcamp