Following the success of the debut album “Live at the Witches Trails” in 1979, Martin Bramah decided to depart from The Fall and form Blue Orchids, with ex Fall members Una Baines (keyboard) and Rick Goldstraw (bassist), while recruiting Steve Toyne (bassist) and Ian Rogers (drummer). Formed in 1979, Blue Orchid signed to Rough Trade Records, releasing their debut album The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain) in 1982.
As a debut album, The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain), is a kaleidoscopic assemble of emotional nuances, cathartic clear-outs and encriptive scriptures of the soul. As an album, it is hermetically hallucinogenic, which day-trips into a lucid dream, whilst alternating between different realms of consciousness. As a front man, Bramah, epitomises all things mysterious, modest and emotionally driven and through his many incarnations has maintained a compelling mystique. From the unadulterated punk delivery, to the melancholic musings, to the chimerical crooning, Brannah has a voice which resonates and streams a whole spectrum of emotions. A diverse guitarist and accomplished songwriter, it is through his collaborations with Baines that The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain) is emotionally enriched and unconventionally pitched. A free-spirit and forward thinking artist, Baines is a keyboard whizz, whose swirls, whirls and neon trails add so much magic and ethereal beauty to this delightfully dark piece of art.
What could be a cosmic cousin of The Monochrome Set, The Stranglers, The Velvet Underground, Television and The Stooges, The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain) is criminally underrated, but somehow belongs in an esoteric cult or should be kept in a vault with all things sacred or secretly influential. It’s an album which sees the reunion of Bramah and Bains ignite a rebirth, and whose combatant spirit is strengthened through the creative collective of Blue Orchids. It is also an album which resides in its own age of enlightenment, amongst the pagan poets, misfits and new-wave nomads. Where 1982 was a year of defined Indie records, The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain) was of no fixed abode and whose fluidity of post-punk, neo-psychedelia, garage art-rock, Proto-Punk, ethereal new wave and token industrial rock, created an incandescent, emotionally raw album which was ahead of its time.
1) Sun Connection
Sun Connection flickers and beams on a quasi-jittery jazz, psyc-art-rock horizon. It’s a track which could be a Stranglers and Fleetwood Mac collaboration remixed by a pagan high priest and sacrificed to the music gods during the summer equinox. It’s strangely hypnotic whose squibble riffs, flutter-baroque-psych keyboard and inflamed vocals places you in a trance-like state. Like a journey through a blinding path, Sun Connection takes a brief hiatus whilst heading towards the mind-bending mountains. Through the northard shifts and solar flares, Sun Connection rotates and spins down a sophisti-pop path amongst the fierce strums and ancestral chants.
2) Dumb Magician
During the Hermetic disorder, a Dumb Magician emerged as a formidable force, a tirade of emotions, whose backtracking, disjointed keyboards whizzes in a frenzy of garage-punk-psychedelia. Through the arcane lyrics and on edge vocals, Dumb Magician’s sentiments are obscured, all cloak and dagger like it belongs to some kind of secret society. It’s an adrenaline infused track, which pulsates with fervour and whose thunderous riffs gallop on a mission amidst the space-prog rock shrieks and militant beats.
3) Tighten My Belt
Tighten My Belt picks up where Tom Verlaine left Marquee Moon back in 77 and delves deep into the soul of dark abstract aesthetics, creating a free-flowing instrumental. It’s a mesmerising track whose fluorescent flutey keyboards, rise, elongate and curve like an Eastern stoned snake, feasting from its visceral veins. Through the terse, trembling tones of the loaded riffs, Tighten My Belt is a master of dextrous interplay of post-punk and art-rock. It’s a smooth operator, whose brooding bass, acoustic strums and pitter patter beats jangle and roam aside the spiked riffs. Through the double-vision, slippery and cascading strums, Tighten My Belt spins deliriously, then nose-dives and crashes in a collapsed state.
4) A Year With No Head
Through the bobbing bass and luminescent strums, A Year With No Head spirals into an underworld of jangly neo-psychedelia, whilst being awakened in a slumberous state. It’s a mesmerising track, whose translucent keyboard elevates into the realms of new wave, synth-pop whilst exuding an ethereal ambience. Through the relaying riffs, A Year With No Head creates a cacophony of out of sync echoes, that collide and crash aside the nonchalant vocals. Along with the interludes of industrial clatter and clockwise chaos, A Year With No Head time-gauges the experimental spirit of new wave, post-punk whilst emerging from the cultural milieu of the late 70s.
5) Hanging Man
Hanging Man disco dances with Talking Heads, Roxy Music and Television in a new-wave art-rock reunion, whilst moving swiftly into the underground world of post-punk. It’s a high voltage track whose rumbling riffs immerse beneath murkier depths, whilst being guided by neon lights . Like an upsurge of energy, a force of nature, it is through the jangly rotation of the striking riffs that Hanging Man glimmers in the darkness and ostentatiously takes centre-stage. Along with the understated cool of Bramah’s vocals, Hanging Man is a conductor amongst the chaos, who effortlessly captivates and stands his ground. Through the luminescent lulls, oscillating and wibble-wobbles of the kaleidoscopic keyboards, Hanging Man pogo-jumps into the parameters of psychedelic rock.
6) Bad Education
Bad Education is the seminal signature track of the album. A polite protest that unintentionally captures the youthful angst of Thatcher’s Britain. Despite its parallels and zeitgeist timing, Bad Education is an introspective revolt, a subjective stance, procrastinating with a wistful rebellion. Lyrically raw, it’s through the fusion of melancholic musings and humble grit that Bad Education escapes the detention of rock cliches, whilst providing an original and heart-warming catharsis. It is through the vocal delivery of Bramah, accompanied by the aloof backing vocals, that Bad Education sustains its endearing, pensive and day-dream charm. Along with the jangly strums and synchronised synths, Bad Education drifts freely within the realms of psych-folk and post-punk poetry, creating a modern day, alternative classic.
Wait swings, crackles and crunchy stomps in a neo-jazz, industrial, post-punk, psychedelic daydream. It’s away with the fairies, soaking up the senses, inhaling every fragrant iota in its own surreal world. It’s quietly chaotic, whose lucid keyboards wander and flutter freely across the hallucinogenic hills, whilst being rudely interrupted by the surge of clamorous riffs. Along with Bramah’s drawn-out vocals, Wait evokes a sense of a cool, nomadic, free-styling demeanour where anything is possible, in a cross-genre of music.
8) No Looking Back
No Looking Back jangles, shrieks and crashes along a winding road, from dusk to dawn. It’s a perplexing track, whose aloof vocals elongate and rise like an alchemistic crooner. Through the spectral synths, No Looking Back hovers and quivers amidst the discord, creating an eerie ambience. Through the crestfallen lyrics and descending dips, No Looking Back glares at the abyss, whilst wistfully soaking up the sorrow. Along with the scapes and wavering synths, No Looking Back ebbs and flows in a wave of Proto-Punk and art-rock, likened to The Velvet Underground on an excursion to the moon.
9) Low Profile
Through the awakening keyboard, Low Profile lingers, flickers and emits its light, whilst shadow surfing its silhouette. Through the majestic, racing riffs and tribal beats, Low Profile rises from the doldrums, whilst shooting down the slime. It’s a pensive track whose sullen vocals, emancipated wails and obscure lyrics, crystalise the raw, spirited and dignified sentiments of the track. It’s a pivotal moment of a riotous renaissance, whose springy clangs, steely spiked riffs and industrial drones stay true to its Post-punk roots, whilst reviving its psych-goth soul.
10) Mad As the Mist and Snow
Paying homage to William Butler Yeats’ poem, “Mad As the Midst and Snow”, the song is beautifully composed and whose fusion of neo-psychedelic-folk provide the perfect backdrop for the melancholic and emotionally driven words. Through the celtic beats, swirling riffs, flutes, synths and lovelorn vocals, Mad As the Midst and Snow stays true to the original sentiments of the poem, whilst correlating both literature and art and abstractly bringing the poem to life. Through the ingenious vocal delivery of Bramah, Mad As the Mist and Snow is etched in dark romanticism, drowning its sorrows in an all consuming affair.