Blue Orchids

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Blue Orchids
Origin Manchester, England
Genres Post-punk
Years active 1979–2007, 2012–present
Labels Rough Trade
Cherry Red
Blind Eye Records

Blue Orchids are an English post-punk band formed in Manchester in 1979, when Martin Bramah decided to quit The Fall having recorded that band's debut album Live at the Witch Trials. Bramah teamed up with keyboardist Una Baines, also an ex-Fall member, guitarist Rick Goldstraw (also ex-Fall), bassist Steve Toyne and drummer Ian Rogers (AKA Joe Kin).[1] Salford-based punk poet John Cooper Clarke christened them Blue Orchids.


The band signed to Rough Trade Records and in November 1980 they released their debut single, a double A-side, "The Flood / Disney Boys".[1] After this release Steve Toyne left the band and Rick Goldstraw took over the bass playing duties. In February 1981 they released their second single "Work".

"Work" was much liked by the late John Peel who played it regularly after its release. The band's music came to the attention of Echo & the Bunnymen, who subsequently invited Blue Orchids to be the support act for Echo & the Bunnymen's 1981 UK tour. Alastair "Baz" Murphy was recruited to play keyboards on the tour due to an illness suffered by Baines.

Also after the release of "Work", the Blue Orchids recorded the first of their Peel Sessions for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 programme.

Phillip Toby Toman, an ex-member of The Durutti Column, joined on drums when Ian Rogers left the group after the Echo & the Bunnymen tour (he later went on to play for Primal Scream under the name Toby Tomanov). This new line-up recorded a debut album called The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain), which went on to sell 10,000 copies.

The group toured with Nico, serving as both backing group and support act. Goldstraw decided to continue touring with Nico, so a new bassist, Mark Hellyer, was recruited as replacement. During the time the band were working with Nico, Steve Garvey (formerly with Buzzcocks, The Teardrops and Bok Bok, then with Motivation), also played bass with them, shortly before migrating to the United States.[2][3]

The group's next record was the Agents of Change EP in 1982. After parting company with Rough Trade at the end of the year, the group split up, with Baines joining The Fates.[1]

Bramah and Baines briefly returned in 1985 with the single "Sleepy Town" and then split up again. Bramah then formed a new group with ex-Fall drummer Karl Burns called Thirst. They only released one record, the Riding the Times EP, in 1987.[1]

In 1989, Bramah briefly returned to The Fall and appeared on the Extricate album. The reunion with Mark E. Smith was never going to last, and Bramah was sacked from the group whilst on a tour of Australia in 1990.

In 1991, Bramah returned with a new incarnation of Blue Orchids which featured ex-Smiths guitarist Craig Gannon on guitar, Martin Hennin on bass and Dick Harrison on drums.[1] Their first release was a single called "Diamond Age", followed in 1991 by a compilation album called A View from the City. In 1992 they released the Secret City EP and a second album was recorded in 1993, but would remain unreleased for ten years. Bramah decided to split the group again in 1995.

In 2002, a compilation album called A Darker Bloom was released on the Cherry Red label. This release had sleeve notes written by Bramah's former colleague in The Fall, BBC DJ Marc Riley.

2003 saw the group reissue three albums on the LTM label. The shelved album from 1993 was finally released with the title The Sleeper. Released almost simultaneously was a compilation album called From Severe to Serene, which featured the group's two Peel Sessions, live tracks and the contents of the Riding the Times EP. At the end of the year the group's debut album The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain) was finally given a long overdue CD release.

In 2004, LTM also released a brand new Blue Orchids album called Mystic Bud. It contained a surprising cover version of Sugar, Sugar by The Archies alongside nine Bramah originals. Founder member Rick Goldstraw returned for the mini-album Slum-Cavern-Jest! in 2005. This release featured a cover of the Fred Neil song "Green Rocky Road".

In January 2008, Martin Bramah released his debut solo album, The Battle of Twisted Heel.

December 2008 saw the formation of Bramah's new group Factory Star, featuring Tim Lyons and Brian Benson (from The Sandells). They were replaced in April 2009 by fellow ex-Fall members Steve Hanley on bass, Paul Hanley on drums and John Paul Moran (aka Hop Man Jr) of Gnod and Rapid Pig on keyboards. The line-up of Factory Star as of June 2010 was Martin Bramah, Hop Man Jr, Chris Dutton (bass) and Tom Tom Lewis (drums). In January 2012, ex-The Passage man Joe Mckechnie replaced Lewis on drums.

September 2012 saw the return of Blue Orchids, with gigs in Liverpool, Manchester and London. The line-up consisted of the Factory Star members Martin Bramah, John Paul Moran, Chris Dutton and Joe McKechnie, with the addition of Ann Matthews (Fflaps/Ectogram) on guitar/vocals. In January 2013 Chris Connolly took on drum duties - Chris has played drums in the Glitter Band...also V2 and Ed Banger. They continue to tour into 2013...


  • Martin Bramah - vocals, guitar (1979–)
  • Una Baines - keyboards, vocals (1979–85)
  • Rick Goldstraw - guitar & bass guitar (1979–82, 2004–2007)
  • Steve Toyne - bass (1979–80)
  • Ian Rogers A.K.A. Joe Kin - drums (1979–81)
  • Phillip Toby Toman - drums (1981–82)
  • Steve Garvey - bass (c.1981 - c.1983)
  • Mark Hellyer - bass (1982)
  • Nick Marshall - drums (1985)
  • Craig Gannon - guitar (1990–91)
  • Martin Hennin - bass (1990–92)
  • Richard Harrison - drums (1990–92)
  • Mick Routledge - keyboards (1991–92)
  • Adrian White - drums (1993–95)
  • Stuart Kennedy - bass (1993–95, 2004)
  • Alastair "Baz" Murphy - organ, keyboards (1981–95, 2004)
  • Charlotte Bill - flute (2004)
  • Bud Umu - drums (2004)
  • Steph - drums (2005)
  • John Paul Moran - keyboards (2012-)
  • Chris Dutton - bass (2012-)
  • Joe Mckechnie - drums (2012)
  • Ann Matthews - guitar, vocals (2012-)
  • Chris Connolly - drums (2013-)


Chart placings shown are from the UK Indie Chart.[4]


Compilation albums[edit]

  • Cross Current - Rough Trade's Greatest Hits (198?)
  • A View from the City (1992)
  • A Darker Bloom (2002)
  • From Severe to Serene (2003)

Live albums[edit]

  • Blue Orchids Bomb Manchester (2007)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "The Flood" / "Disney Boys" (1980) (#36)
  • "Work" / "The House That Faded Out" (1981) (#21)
  • "Agents Of Change EP" (1982) (#12)
  • "Sleepy Town" / "Thirst" (1985) (#22)
  • "Riding The Times EP" (by Thirst) (1987)
  • "Diamond Age" / "Moth" (1991)
  • "Secret City EP" (1992)


  1. ^ a b c d e Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1. 
  2. ^ "Watch Movie". Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  3. ^ "The Blue Orchids | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  4. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1999. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4. 

External links[edit]