This thoughtfully compiled 19-track anthology contains most, though not all, of what the Blue Orchids recorded between 1980 and 1992. It emphasizes their early-'80s releases, simply because most of what they recorded was done between 1980 and 1982, though there are three post-1982 songs. On their first pair of singles and their 1981 The Greatest Hit album, the Blue Orchids were very much in the groove of Manchester acts like the Fall. That should come as no great surprise, since singer Martin Bramah and keyboardist Una Baines had been among the uncounted musicians to pass through the Fall. The Blue Orchids were distinguished from the Fall, however, by a greater (though not immensely greater) melodic bent, particularly in the creepy '60s-ish minor-keyed organ lines of Baines. Too, Bramah sounded less histrionic and gratuitously abrasive than Mark E. Smith and other Fall imitators, though he too favored sing/speak stream-of-consciousness ruminations. For the 1982 Agents of Change EP (whose four tracks are all included here), the band actually became more interesting, toning down their punkiness for more ethereal, gentler textures of muted gloom, perhaps influenced by Nico, whom they backed and toured with for a while. Those who collect Fall-ish acts like Marc Riley & the Creepers should check the Blue Orchids out, particularly in the United States, where the band were virtually unknown; they were very much in the thrust of Manchester post-punk, and they were better than some of their competitors that carved a higher profile.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger