The Blue Orchids

The Sleeper

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Originally recorded in 1993 but never released -- the brief flurry of interest in the band in the early '90s only went so far -- The Sleeper reemerged via the LTM label with the expected complement of bonus tracks. Martin Bramah again was the center of the band, having put together a sporadic lineup in the early '90s after another Fall stint; this particular version featured one old Blue Orchids veteran, keyboardist Alistair Murphy, who had stood in for Una Baines on a tour in the early '80s. As a full stand-in for Baines here, he's good enough, adding the right kind of wistful glaze and chugging energy to the mix and sometimes showing some good individual flair. Bramah's guitar work is the more noticeable factor in the end, though, while his singing hasn't lost any of its clear and clean power; if anything, it seems to have improved here and there, often bearing a surprising similarity to Robert Forster. That said, The Sleeper isn't a spectacularly great album, merely a pretty good one that got lost in 1993's grunge/proto-Brit-pop trends. At its best, it's certainly worthy of being described as a lost gem -- "Lover of Nothing" balances disaffection with steady energy just so (Murphy's keyboards are really worthy here). Some of the funk attempts, however, are substandard, baggy, or worse, but at least have a redeeming feature or two via Bramah to keep them from being terrible. As for the extra tracks, the various remixes of album and singles tracks are OK enough (the "Secret City" mix of "NY Gargoyles" is the best), but "Love Fiend" has a nice snarling guitar kick to it and percussion that recalls the New Fast Automatic Daffodils just so, while "Out of Sight" balances that with a careful restraint.

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