Song of the day – 202: Edwyn Collins
There’s a new Edwyn Collins album out. You don’t know how happy it makes me, just typing those words. Edywn suffered a brain haemorrhage in February 2005 while he was working on his 10th album (I think), and folk weren’t even sure he’d survive, or if he did survive, how. He couldn’t write. Or read. Understand language. Or sit up. A year later, even brushing his teeth was a major challenge. With the unswerving support of his wife Grace and son Will, he’s managed to pull himself back into contention, inch by inch – to such an extent that, last year, footage of Edwyn playing live shows with folk like Teenage Fanclub and The Cribs in support, began to surface on YouTube. And then, almost unexpectedly, a whisper on the wind. There’s a new Edwyn Collins album out, Losing Sleep. And it’s good! Nay, not good. It’s great!
On occasion, Losing Sleep reminds me of what U2 might have sounded like if U2 had ever been any fucking good (it must be the anthemic qualities of the guitars), and in the title track Edwyn has once again written a song to match his own dizzyingly high standards, a ‘What Presence?!’ or ‘Consolation Prize’ for 2010: an epic, bitterly poignant, self-examination of a song with a churning beat and harmonies to kiss for. The melody has long since stuck in my head, and threatens to remain there well into the new year.
September 2006: What are your goals for the next year?
“The goals? To understand. To communicate with people. The necessary goals to read again, to write again, to be able to play the guitar… I… I don’t know. Possibly.”
Most folk know Edwyn for ‘With A Girl Like You’, his ‘break-out’ hit from the early 90s. It’s a great song, and was one more reason to feature Edwyn on the front of Melody Maker, long after anyone expected – but Jeez, it ain’t the only string to his guitar, not by any means! (A little later on, we met: I interviewed him at his house for over four hours. He was utterly charming, witty, smart. I lost the fucking tape. The press agent had conniptions. So I spoke to him on the telephone for another two hours, entirely different conversation. What a gent! He told me, that because it had been released independently, he was now officially a millionaire – off the back of one song! Makes you wonder quite how much record companies have been creaming off over the years.)
Here’s some footage of Edwyn with Teenage Fanclub in Glasgow, September 2009. I believe the venue is Mono, Stephen Pastel’s record shop. (Someone forgive me if I’m wrong. I haven’t been to Glasgow for far too long.) Man, what would I have given to be there. I love it when Teenage Fanclub collaborate with folk like this. And I knew there was an Orange Juice “everything, but everything” compilation on the cards, thanks to the ever-wonderful Domino Records. But Bangs alive! Edwyn is still sounding in great voice.
Here’s the video to ‘Losing Sleep’, dated September 2010. Damn. Did I imagine this, or did I once catch Edwyn Collins supporting Pulp right at the height of their pomp? Rarely have two bands on a bill been better suited (except of course Edwyn should have been headlining).
And, just because this is the age of YouTube and just because I can link to pretty much any damn video I want within seconds – yesterday I was watching Harry Belafonte perform ‘Banana Boat Song’ with The Muppets, a performance I remembered almost note-for-note from my childhood – here’s some classic Orange Juice and ‘Simple Thrilled Honey’, from Dada With Juice. All featured on the soon-to-come Domino Records compilation.
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