Orange Juice, Altered Images and Gregory’s Girl

Last time I perhaps foolishly put out a request asking for song suggestions – My previous post (link here) had featured two songs from the Gamble & Huff stable in Philadelphia, Year Of Decision by The Three Degrees and Back Stabbers by the O’Jays. As ever you didn’t disappoint and there were quite a few Should I Stay Or Should I Go suggestions but that Clash song featured here last year (link here), as part of my “pre-EU Referendum going-to-the-polls” post (we all did one let’s face it and I’m just glad that over a year on, everything is progressing so well on that front, with negotiations going swimmingly!). Other suggestions were mainly for songs I didn’t really know or for another song by the same artist so I decided to plump for this one, Rip It Up by Orange Juice (that suggestion from Rol over at My Top Ten).

Rip It Up By Orange Juice:

Every now and again a particular city seems to be at the epicentre of things, musically speaking, and in the early 1980s that city seemed to be Glasgow. The independent Postcard Records, started in a tenement flat bedroom, spawned many fine acts, two of which were Edwyn Collins’ Orange Juice and Roddy Frame’s Aztec Camera. Postcard Records didn’t last long but both of these bands were soon signed by bigger labels and started making headway in the charts. In 1983 the single Rip It Up made it to No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart which was their only top 40 success which surprises me. This single was less post-punk than their earlier material and they used synthesisers to create a more disco-oriented sound. Edwyn went on to become a solo artist and had a worldwide hit in 1994 with A Girl Like You. There also can’t be many people who don’t know that Edwyn suffered two cerebral haemorrhages in 2005 which resulted in a long period of rehabilitation – A documentary film on his recovery, titled The Possibilities Are Endless, was released in 2014. He now lives on the old family croft in Sutherland, north of where I am, and has his own recording studio up there. His speech is still affected but when he sings it all magically comes together – The power of music.

RipItUpOrangeJuice

I did try to put together a list of all those bands that came out of Glasgow in the late ’70s/early ’80s but just too many to mention and if you’re here already, you probably know who I’m talking about anyway – Suffice to say there were many. I always remembered Claire Grogan from the band Altered Images saying in an interview that when they travelled south to London in those days to record ToTP, it was a bit of a home from home, as half the dressing rooms were filled with bands they knew well from their home city. Altered Images also fitted into that post-punk genre when they started out, although like Orange Juice soon started making headway in the charts reaching No. 7 in 1983 with this fine song, Don’t Talk To Me About Love. The “pop pixie” Claire only needed a big baggy top, a pair of dangly earrings, a quick blow-dry at the hairdressers and a bit of gold eyeshadow to make us all fall in love with her back then. So much more demure than the pop princesses of today and for me, much sexier – Just sayin’ girls!

Don’t Talk To Me About Love by Altered Images:

But of course for people of my generation, and specifically Scottish people I imagine, Claire Grogan is best remembered for playing Susan in Bill Forsyth’s wonderful coming-of-age romantic comedy Gregory’s Girl. If like me you went to a straight down the middle, semi-modern state secondary school (usually called an academy), this film will resonate in so many ways. All the stereotypes were present – The gangly and awkward Gregory (played by John Gordon Sinclair), his socially inept friends (think the Inbetweeners 40 years ago), the football obsessed PE teacher, the more mature and business-savvy Steve who offers dating advice, the confident and sporty Dorothy and the slightly quirky but impossibly cute Susan.

This film was made in 1980 and I left school in the summer of 1978 but little had changed and when I went to see it all those fond memories came flooding back. I realise now in later life that I was one of the lucky ones as my schooldays were charmed, full of fun, friends and laughter (and hard work of course). Like in the film, the machinations that took place between girls in order to contrive an evening date “up the country park” (heady stuff), were something to behold. Also what was it with Scottish schools and football? – At our one, all other sports were pretty much side-lined as the focus of attention was on getting as many boys as possible into the prestigious North of Scotland Select – Our school was so focussed on this goal (no pun intended) that we had five boys at one point in that team and when school-boyfriend scored the winning goal in a grudge match with the South of Scotland, he huffed for a week when I wasn’t suitably impressed!

I still really enjoy watching this film today and never tire of it – The music by Colin Tully recorded for the title sequence was just perfect and I can’t listen to the sound of that wonderful saxophone without having a massive pang of nostalgia for my schooldays – I know it doesn’t happen this way for everyone but my schooldays really were the best days of my life, yet I didn’t realise that at the time, which is sad. (I’m not saying of course that it’s all been rubbish since, but as an adult there are always pesky responsibilities and worries that detract from that feeling of pure happiness – As you get older and your kids get older the worries sadly don’t seem to ease, they just change!)

But before I go, it just occurred to me that in the picture recently posted from my final year at school, there was a strong similarity to the “look” sported by Dorothy, Gregory’s love interest in the film – It was from about three years earlier but what with the cream V-neck waistcoat and the carefully “curling-tonged” hair, it was obviously one of the looks of choice back then. Of course I don’t think Dee Hepburn who played Dorothy had used quite as much Sun-In hair “brightener” in the build up to the making of the movie, as my hair does have a distinct orange tinge to it which was what tended to happen with overuse. Nowadays I spend a pretty penny on getting the locks looking just the right colour but back then all that was needed was 39p and a bottle of Sun-In – Not much wonder I was happy. Were you a Susan or a Dorothy, or neither? As it says at the top of the comments boxes, I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time….

Rip It Up Lyrics
(Song by Edwyn Collins)

When I first saw you
Something stirred within me
You were standing sultry in the rain
If I could’ve held you
I would’ve held you
Rip it up and start again

Rip it up and start again
Rip it up and start again
I hope to God you’re not as dumb as you make out
I hope to God
I hope to God
And I hope to God I’m not as numb as you make out
I hope to God
I hope to God

And when I next saw you
My heart reached out for you
But my arms stuck like glue to my sides
If I could’ve held you
I would’ve held you
But I’d choke rather than swallow my pride
Rip it up and start again

Rip it up and start again
Rip it up and start again
I hope to God you’re not as dumb as you make out
I hope to God
I hope to God
And I hope to God I’m not as numb as you make out
I hope to God
I hope to God

And there was times I’d take my pen
And feel obliged to start again
I do profess
That there are things in life
That one can’t quite express
You know me I’m acting dumb-dumb
You know this scene is very humdrum
And my favourite song’s entitled ‘boredom’

Rip it up and start again
I said rip it up and start again
I said rip it up and rip it up and rip it up and rip it up and rip it up and start again

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

22 thoughts on “Orange Juice, Altered Images and Gregory’s Girl”

  1. My pals and I were massive Altered Images fans, though unfortunately the one time the band played comparatively locally I was unable to go – something I’m reminded of from time to time to this very day! I did see Orange Juice though, somewhere around 1983 – a fabulous night as I recall.
    Gregory’s Girl was popular post-pub viewing for my gang in the early 1980’s, thanks to a mate who had it on betamax tape! The film vied for our attention with constantly repeated episodes of Bilko on the TV. Good times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve either seen, or just missed seeing everyone haven’t you! Good to know you enjoyed Gregory’s Girl down south as well – Oh the tragedy of having bought a Betamax machine. I still remember the sheer of excitement of having my very own video recorder however – To be able to watch things that weren’t even on one of the 4 TV channels, at any time. Simpler times!

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      1. Yes, much of my life can be measured by artists I’ve seen or narrowly missed! Live music is so fundamental to me. This year gigs have been a little thin on the ground, but I’ve already got tickets in the bag for a couple of shows in 2018!
        The main thing I remember about my mate’s Betamax player is the sheer weight of the thing! It took two of us to manoeuvre it into position next to the telly every time we wanted to plug it in and watch something. It was too big and cumbersome to sit by the TV full time and was kept out of the way under a table!

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    1. That sounded a bit suspect but it seems you are right, she is back in East Kilbride and working for a local business. Unlike Rol, I’m not sure that it is depressing – The acting world just wasn’t for her obviously and not everyone who makes it in that world has a life of unadultered happiness. Like me and my schooldays, sometimes day to day life turns out just fine (and she’ll always have the awards and the memories of when she was the star football player at that Cumbernauld academy!).

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  2. Excellent choices, Alyson – song and movie. I’m sure JC The Vinyl Villain will approve too, since I’m pretty sure OJ are his favourite band.

    I never really subscribed to the “best days of your life” bit, since I had some pretty miserable times at school…which I’ve managed to airbrush away somewhat by fictionalising them. That said, my out-of-school life at that age was pretty good, even if much of it was solitary. Taught me to enjoy my own company. Not that I get to socialise much with that particular group anymore…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you approve – A bit of a cosmic leap from Back Stabbers but best way to go probably (it is a bit Chain like isn’t it?).

      Yes I suspected from your writing that your schooldays weren’t blissfully happy so doesn’t work for everyone. I do sometimes worry in later life that I perhaps didn’t spot if anyone was unhappy and could have done with a friend, but I was just too busy to notice. To be honest I don’t think so though – Unlike today with social media and the pressure to look a certain way we just all fell into our little friendship groups and got on with it. You went home from school on a Friday and unless something was arranged over the weekend you didn’t hear from anyone again until school on Monday (my parents didn’t even have a house phone until I left for University as everyone we knew lived in the village). Simpler times indeed.

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    1. Great that such a simple little movie about gawky Scottish school kids ended up becoming popular all over the world – Translatable anywhere it seems.

      Hope you’re ok? Didn’t see a post from you this week and was worried.

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  3. Sounds like you had a great time at school. I wasn’t aware Clare Grogan was an actress and singer, you learn something new each day. I watched Gregory’s Girl a couple of years ago. A charming, quirky and realistic coming of age story. The poster is a bit odd though! The only minor flaw to me was the 10-year-old younger sister, her remarks were amusing but too wise for her age. But then, I do remember from that time (I lived in the UK until I was 11) that under-10s sometimes spoke like mini-adults. Perhaps because kids start school at 5 in the UK, and learn to read very early, they mature faster. In some cases anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a great film isn’t it and from my era of schooldays so really resonates with me. As for Madeline the 10-year-old younger sister, just another great character to bring to the mix and yes there are no shortage of wise-beyond-their-years kids. Sadly they seem to lose all this wisdom when the hit puberty and don’t get it back until their mid 20s!

      Now I understand why your English is just so excellent – As a Danish person I always thought you put the rest of us to shame when it came to language skills but it seems you are probably bi-lingual!

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  4. Lovely post, Alyson…and it’s nice to see you sharing a bit of yourself again (including photographic evidence of your actual existence in the non-cyber world). I’m unfamiliar with Altered Images, although I remember when they were around. It wasn’t my “thing” at the time but will give them a listen soon to see what I missed. As for Orange Juice, I came to them via the Edwyn Collins smash hit you mentioned. Until then I was unaware of him, but being the completist I was I had to find out more about him & where he came from. Eventually I got his first couple of solo albums (and everything since that worldwide breakthrough) and an Orange Juice compilation, which I bought during my first visit to Scotland in 1995. A few years ago I bought the box set that includes everything they recorded and became an even bigger fan. Somewhere in my David Bowie complete-albums series I mentioned a similarity between Bowie’s “Sound And Vision” and at least one particular Orange Juice song (whose title escapes me right now). Knowing what a big Bowie fan you are, I’m sure you made the same connection between these two artists.

    Have we ever had the conversation about how I believe I was Scottish in a previous life, and the obsession I’ve had with a number of Scottish artists over the years? If not I’ll be happy to share that here.

    Hope you’re having a nice weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve certainly had a affinity for Scottish bands over the years haven’t you but didn’t expect you to have been such a bit fan of Mr Collins. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the telly show Outlander but perhaps something similar happened to you in reverse – You touched a magical Celtic stone back in the day and went forward in time to modern day America! Would account for the love of Big Country, Proclaimers et al anyway.

      As for me being a big Bowie fan and having made a connection with a particular OJ song, I think we both know by now that I’m really only here because I decided to write about all those memories that are conjured up, when listening to the songs that make up the “tracks of my years”! My muso credentials are tenuous at best so no, I would never have made that connection, but I’m glad that there are people like yourself out there who can. I’ll just stick to being “facts and figures” girl.

      Yes, hope your weekend is also going well.

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  5. Lovely post Alyson and Rip It Up is one of those songs that always works for me – a perennial – great choice.
    Funnily enough I don’t have very vivid memories of Gregory’s Girl – saw it just the once so long ago, perhaps it’s time to revisit, so much has been written about it. I do remember ‘Sun In’ though… my ‘brightener’ of choice as a young teen was ‘Sta-blond’ shampoo… (before I went drastic and punk peroxide white/pink/orange, etc.!)
    Hope you’re feeling much better now too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear. Funny how Gregory’s girl kind of passed you by but thinking about it you would have been around 17 and at the height of your “punk period” so not really the kind of thing that would have probably interested you. When you watch it now however, especially for someone like me who went to a very similar kind of Scottish school, the memories come flooding back. Back then, unlike nowadays when young girls have access to so many excellent hair products, all we had was things like Sun-In and Sta-blond – It was either that however or sticking with what we were born with and in the case of Scottish girls that tended to be an unfortunate shade of “mouse” or “moosie broon” as we would have called it!

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  6. “Were you a Susan or a Dorothy, or neither?” I belong to the “neither” category….
    Is it just too much hyperbole to think that the film is a work of genius?
    As for Ms Hepburn selling medical aids, did you know that Trisha Yates of early-era Grange Hill used to work in Dundee city centre’s H Samuel?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No – As I wrote that line I suspected that because most of the visitors here are male it would be a resounding “neither” from most of you, but worth a try!

      Bill Forsyth made some great films around that time didn’t he and before Gregory’s Girl there was a little gem called That Sinking Feeling and afterwards he made Local Hero, another favourite of mine.

      As for Trisha Yates, no I didn’t know that, but thanks for the info as you just never know when it might come in handy for a pub quiz or some such thing!

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