The new Orchids compilation from Cherry Red Records, Who Needs Tomorrow: A 30 Year Retrospective, is nearly essential. The Glaswegian group have long been deserving of a collection like this and its availability now should greatly enhance the ease with which newer fans discover this wonderful music.
Disc 1 of Who Needs Tomorrow is a "best of" set and a listener can survey the metamorphosis of the group from being nearly-jangle-pop purveyors on early cuts like "Apologies" and on to later tracks like "The Way That You Move" that seem more like Prefab Sprout stuff than anything else. It's not that the band entirely changed as an earlier offering like "Something For The Longing" sees the group breaking free of the shackles of the Sarah Records label in an attempt to make a more robust form of U.K. indie-rock. Similarly, "Another Saturday Night" has a gently surging melodic line that is damn near hypnotic. In an odd way, a cut like this places the sound of The Orchids closer to, say, that of Echo and the Bunnymen then to any C86-influenced set of peers. By the time we get to the chiming "Something's Going On", the sound of this band is light-years away from that of those mid-Eighties jangle-poppers and far closer to something nearly anthemic, like the kind of music made by The Wild Swans, and even New Order and The Railway Children in that era.
The second half of Who Needs Tomorrow is given to demos and assorted rarities. And while some things here feel essential (that cover of "Magic In Here" by The Go-Betweens, for instance), lots of CD 2 here is not quite as vital as Disc 1. A re-recording of the Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink EP, for example, may be of interest to long-time fans but is unlikely to win over newer converts who are still probably out there looking for copies of the original release from 1988. Still, the compilers of Who Needs Tomorrow have stuffed this with a lot of rarities rather than simply pad this out with only previously-released numbers, and genuine fans will buy this likely just to get CD2.
The sort of compilation these Scottish pioneers always needed, Who Needs Tomorrow: A 30 Year Retrospective presents the full range of styles that The Orchids pursued. From the early jangle-y indie stuff, to the more produced pop experiments, and on to some new versions of songs from this band's back-catalog, this 2-CD set is the definitive document of the 3 decades of The Orchids' career.
Who Needs Tomorrow: A 30 Year Retrospective by The Orchids is out now via Cherry Red Records.