It's hard to imagine a band like Edwyn Collins' circa-1980 Orange Juice establishing itself in the testosterone-poisoned alleys of Glasgow, Scotland, today. Softly elegant and fey pop songs conveyed in a manner at once grinningly confident and punkishly self-loathing; the accessibility of hit-worthy guitar rock corrupted by a laissez-faire post-punk smirk. You know -- like Belle & Sebastian. Or Franz Ferdinand. OK, maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that the town that birthed both the Jesus and Mary Chain and the headbutt (i.e. "Glasgow kiss") should produce music almost confrontational in its camp. But Orange Juice was the first -- and, as The Glasgow School reminds us with its assortment of the band's singles for seminal pop-upstart label Postcard, it's still something magical.
Listen to the debut "Falling and Laughing" and just try not to get chills hearing, as you will, the Promethean moment of British indie-pop: Morrissey's overwrought vocal drama and Johnny Marr's sweet and twee chords; the post-punk'd blue-eyed soul of Aztec Camera and Everything but the Girl; Pulp's self-immolating cynicism -- all are foreshadowed here. Blare the wry social statements and nervous caffeinated bounce on "Blue Boy" and "Love Sick" a quarter-century after their release, and these records still inspire one to think not only that Orange Juice is brilliant, but that you or I -- or anyone -- could do this. Because anyone could. Orange Juice couldn't play -- not at this point, at least. You won't find later hit-single studio gems like "Rip It Up" on The Glasgow School: This is OJ feeling its way, punk-like, through pop, learning through mistakes, and it's marvelous to behold.