“Look at the state of me”, Edwyn Collins sings on ‘Glasgow to London’ from his latest album, Badbea. “But, I don’t mind”, he smirks. Well documented has been the story of Collins’ recovery from two near-fatal cerebral haemorrhages in 2005 – not least in the gorgeous 2013 documentary The Possibilities Are Endless – but it’s been underexplored quite what impact his stroke and recovery has had on his music.
On this year’s Badbae, named after the Scottish village to which Collins relocated recently, there’s an effervescent positivity that’s typified his three studio releases throughout his recovery. Collins’ back catalogue needs little introduction, but it’s worth reflecting on quite how shocking Orange Juice were upon arrival. In the aftermath of punk, Collins’ fey and sardonic delivery was coupled with a radical rejection of punk’s rockism. Their chiming, Byrds-influenced sound carried all the wonky exuberance of getting properly drunk for the first time, and would become such a profound influence on indie music as to become almost synonymous with the genre. No Orange Juice? No Smiths, no Belle and Sebastian, no Franz Ferdinand, the list goes on. And they only had one proper hit: ‘Rip It Up’.
No Orange Juice? No Smiths, no Belle and Sebastian, no Franz Ferdinand, the list goes on.
In a music industry that’s profoundly ableist too, Collins stands as a rare example of a musician in public life giving visibility to stroke survivors and people with aphasia – the language condition that still affects Collins.
As well as the northern soul and Buzzcocks-influenced power pop found on Badbae, you can expect Collins’ set at Manchester’s Gorilla to draw heavily on Orange Juice’s ageless, peerless back catalogue and soaring solo success from Home Again to ‘A Girl Like You’.