Naming his recent album, Badbea, after a ruined village on the east coast of Caithness suggests that the wit is still strong with seminal pop maestro Edwyn Collins. Some 40 years into his career, and as the album title suggests still the eternal outsider, Badbea reminded us that behind the modest charm, and delicate guitars, of Orange Juice, Collin’s main strength was always his ability to reject the nature of cool for the sound of sincerity. Whilst competitors may have gone on to greater record sales, and severe bust-ups, Collin’s style was a one which stuck around for the long term; something which Badbea is already in the process of replicating. “I’m really proud of the way Badbea has been received” confirms Collins, some six months after it’s release “it’s a record which has different sounds but one collective theme; a theme which seems to connect with other people and I’m enjoying watching the reaction to the record”.
A theme built on nostalgia (“I’ve never usually been someone who looks back”) Badbea is a complex record, varying from moments of Northern Soul (‘It’s all about you’) through to gospel (‘I’m okay Jack’) a combination of sounds which develop the record, but could be tricky to replicate in the live setting. “I play with musicians I’ve played with for over twenty years so whilst some of the songs may vary in style quiet a lot, we know each other well enough to be able to move through genres easily. Those players are so talented that there’s seldom a wrong note played live”.
Bringing Badbea to a live setting, on perhaps his longest tour in a decade, Collins is already excited about what the experience will bring “when we started, we didn’t have anywhere to go or to play so we tended to create a community with people who were like ourselves. It was really tight knit, and we all helped each other. I want to recreate that feel with this tour.”
Spreading the community, Collins is keen to stress the importance of the North of England to his initial success, “the North of England, particularly Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sunderland were really important to me when we first started; they gave us a home outside of our home and we really felt like our community spread further than just our home city.”
A feeling of acceptance that has never left Collins, the pop star is particularly looking forward to returning to the North East of England, and is keen to promote Middlesbrough as one of his favourite areas to play in recent years “we didn’t see that coming, but we’ve played there a lot and it’s always a great place to play with great noise. The whole of the North East has always been very welcoming to us”.
Back with a great new album, and a real drive to create communal shows, this may be Collins at the top of his game.
Edwyn Collins plays the Boiler Shop, Newcastle, Wednesday 4th September.