Play That Funky Music White Boy

We’ll get the confessions, the truth and the cold hard facts out of the way first. I’m too young to appreciate the beauty that was Postcard Records. Way too young. I’m not exactly sure when I first chanced upon the label, but it was certainly long after the last of those few, fey and feisty 7″s had made their way out of Alan Horne’s bedroom and into the world. While it was all going on I was too caught up in the chart music du jour – Madness, Adam & the Ants, Swords Of A Thousand MenSpurs Are On Their Way To Wembley. Proper stuff like that. Had I actually heard Blue Boy or Just Like Gold I doubt I’d have liked them. And if you’re being honest with yourself as you read this, when you were 11 you wouldnae have liked them either.

Meet The Beatles? Velvet Underground? Byrds?

It was probably an article in the short lived Scottish music publication CUT that first brought Postcard Records to my attention. Being a heady 13 years old, by now I knew my Robert Lloyds from my Lloyd Coles and had an appetite for discovering new things. I knew of Orange Juice of course. Rip It Up had been all over the airwaves, the words ‘One Hit Wonder’ running through it’s jangly core like a stick of sugary sweet confectionary. And I must’ve been aware of Aztec Camera by this point too. Over the years I’ve come to realise that year zero for many of these bands I grew to love began at Postcard. Edwyn and Orange Juice. Roddy and Aztec Camera. The Go Betweens. All began their shiny black plastic lives on the Postcard label. Josef K too, but, eh, we’ll scratch that last lot out. I never gave them a chance/listen until Franz Ferdinand waxed lyrical about them a few years ago. Like I said earlier, we’ll get the confessions, the truth and the cold hard facts outta the way first. I like them now though.

Anyway. The reason for this article is three-fold.

  1. I’ve been meaning to do a bit about Postcard for a while now.
  2. It’s just over 30 years since the first Postcard 7″,  Orange Juice’s Falling And Laughing, was released – there’s a good wee write up about Orange Juice and the pre-OJ Nu-Sonics here.
  3. Over at the Vinyl Villain, on 6th April they’re celebrating Paul Haig day. Paul Haig was lead singer with Josef K (below). But you knew that already.

So with regards to the above, I’ve compiled The Best Postcard Records Album In The World…Ever. Every a-side and b-side ever released on the label, from Orange Juice’s rare as funk debut (even Edwyn Collins doesn’t have a copy) to Aztec Camera’s non-album Mattress Of Wire. And everything in between, from Antipodean brothers in arms the Go Betweens to Edinburgh’s answer to the Glasgow Glamsters, Josef K.  Every track wrapped in eczema-like scratchy guitars, elastic band basslines and vocals just on the wrong side of tuneful. Well. Almost every track. Roddy Frame uses, gasp! – acoustic guitars! He sings in tune! He’s a precocious 16 year old genius. The fucker! It’s the Sound Of Young Scotland y’know!


Here’s what you get:

 Orange Juice
Falling And Laughing / Moscow / Moscow Olympics 
 Orange Juice
 Blue Boy / Love Sick 
 Josef K
 Radio Drill Time / Crazy To Exist 
 Go Betweens
 I Need Two Heads / Stop Before You Say It 
 Josef K
 It’s Kinda Funny / Final Request 
 Orange Juice
 Simply Thrilled Honey / Breakfast Time 
 Orange Juice
 Poor Old Soul / Poor Old Soul (pt2) 
 Aztec Camera
 Just Like Gold / We Could Send Letters 
 Josef K
 Sorry For Laughing / Revelation 
 Josef K
 Chance Meeting / Pictures 
 Orange Juice
 Wan Light (unreleased)/ You Old Eccentric (not on compilation)
Aztec Camera
Mattress Of Wire / Lost Outside The Tunnel

 Why the small writing? Pain in the arse, man.

Download includes exclusive Plain Or Pan artwork.



Cover Versions, Hard-to-find

Special K

JC over at the Vinyl Villain has, like many of us in the blogosphere recently, been the target of the DMCA. Quite rightly I suppose, the DMCA have the authority to remove music files and shut your blog down if you are clearly flouting copyright laws by sharing copyrighted material. This very blog nearly shut down over Christmas due to the severity of attention I was receiving, but thankfully this attention has subsided over the past few months. JC on the other hand is being targetted fairly frequently these days. On one occassion, a track by Paul Haig was removed without him knowing, despite the fact that the track in question was owned by the artist himself and not the record company as the DMCA thought. A couple of quick emails back and forwards to Paul Haig’s management later and JC was able to re-post the track. You can read more about it here. In Mr Haig’s honour, JC has asked the blogging community to stand as one in solidarity, with a cheeky Ferguson-McGregor two-fingered salute to any nit-picking internet fascists who may be lurking. Aye! You can count me in! Here at Plain Or Pan?,  Monday 6th April 2009 is officially Paul Haig Day.


My own contribution to the cause is a track by Paul’s first band, Josef K. Signed to Postcard Records, they were like Orange Juice’s runny-nosed wee brother. They sounded like the type of band who would come home after the first day at school with both knees out of their new trousers and no leather left on the toes of their Clarks Commandos. Their itchy, scratchy and claustrophobic cheese wire thin guitar lines and elastic band basslines meant they were the epitome of post punk. A thousand and one fringe (meaning both haircut and success) guitar bands owe them a huge debt, whether they realise it or not.


A couple of years ago, Domino Records released Entymology, a compilation of the band’s Postcard and Belgian label Les Disques Du Crepuscules releases. This was my first introduction to Josef K. If you’ve never heard them before, read on. Mr Kapranos, you can shuffle off quietly to your rehearsal room again.


Sorry For Laughing was the band’s 4th single. Released 28 years ago (!!!) this month it failed to chart anywhere, yet to me it sounds like the definitive Josef K record. Slightly shambolic and out of tune, yet heartfelt and soulful. There’s a nice tambourine jangling about in the background. The Wedding Present were clearly taking notes on how to play those brillo pad scrubbed barre chords too. Hear it here.


lyrics as they appeared in a Postcard Records leaflet

Sorry For Laughing has been covered quite a few times, most notably by 80s Germanic stylistas Propaganda. Their version is the 80s – glacial synths, machine-like Teutonic vocals, bangs! Crashes! Zang tum tum! I’ve mentioned French covers artists Nouvelle Vague elsewhere before. Their version is lovely, sounding like The Cardigans duetting with Nico on happy pills. Glasgow’s own 1990s have done a version too, but their go at it remains elusive for now. Enjoy the tracks and remember to support the artists who made them etc etc blah blah blah…..


Special K