Shelleyan Orphan: Classic or Dud?

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
I only seeked 'Century Flower' out by them maybe a month ago, after having fallen in love with Caroline Crawley's voice on This Mortal Coil's 'Blood', not even much sooner. What a lovely voice. But, Shelleyan Orphan on the whole... I like 'Century Flower'. "Summer Flies" is a great song. But, I can't say dud and I can't say classic just yet. What do you guys think?

blood bitch (blood bitch), Saturday, 12 August 2006 14:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Dud, man. Sorry.

Someone told me years ago about them as something I was likely to like due to my musical tastes and 4AD love, and I bought one record - a 12" with three songs I believe and never went back. That was probably 1986.

Kiss My Grits! (Bimble...), Saturday, 12 August 2006 14:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I would also encourage you to write much more about the 4AD label, here. This board could really use it.

Kiss My Grits! (Bimble...), Saturday, 12 August 2006 14:42 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Not sure what you mean by that second post... But yeah, I'm expecting the concensus to turn out to be that they were an all-around dud. Thought we'd may as well have the proper c/d though, just in case they weren't. I think they're worthy of that at least!

blood bitch (blood bitch), Saturday, 12 August 2006 14:47 (eleven years ago) Permalink

on anybody's top 3 of worst-all-time band names, that's gotta count for something

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Saturday, 12 August 2006 17:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I tend to agree -- did Shelley (either of them) write something about orphans that I missed?

I mean, maybe not three worst -- there are a lot of band names out there that are just horribly embarrassing, and this is just kind of lame and inexplicable. Pretty bad, though.

Pessimist (Pessimist), Saturday, 12 August 2006 18:19 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I enjoy Century Flower, but it's probably an adolescent nostalgia pick for me. Even then, I was never sufficiently compelled to follow up on their other albums. I expect a Dud consensus here.

Myke. (Myke Weiskopf), Saturday, 12 August 2006 18:48 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I actually *love* Shelleyan Orphan - was first introduced to them by seeing them play live on The Cure's "Prayer Tour" and they were just wonderful, terrific musicians and lots of fun. I went out immediately and bought a cassette copy of Century Flower (this being 1989 and all) and nearly wore it out. Later found copies of both Humroot and Helleborine and proceeded to wear them out too.

A few years back on one of my last business trips to London, I found a great deal on the Rough Trade cd reissues of all three albums and bought them up in a heartbeat. I still play them a bunch and her voice is enough to make me melt.

Never got around to hearing the Babacar stuff (post S.O. Crawley project with Boris from The Cure and basically a lot of the S.O. players as well), but have recently been reminded about it and have been keeping an eye out for it.

But definitely CLASSSSSSIC in my book, if only for being one of a very few 'baroque pop' bands that revived the use of non-pop instruments in a very poptastic way (see also Frazier Chorus, Cocteau Twins, Harvest Ministers)

rentboy (rentboy), Saturday, 12 August 2006 20:47 (eleven years ago) Permalink the Harvest Ministers, I'd rate as Classic. A Feeling Mission is still one of my favorites.

I'm not sure about the backdrop to the "non-pop instruments" claim, though. There were a fair number of ork-pop bands around by the time Shelleyan Orphan made their bow, weren't there? I thought this market was cornered by the late '60s. (And the Cocteau Twins were VERY pop-instrument-oriented: drum machine, guitar, and bass, later becoming an actual two-guitars-bass-and-drums lineup in the classic mold. I'm tempted to think they come to mind only because of the trilly-female-vocalist connection.)

Myke. (Myke Weiskopf), Saturday, 12 August 2006 20:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

fair point, i would say with the cocteaus i'm thinking more baroque style re: harpsichord sounds and frilly instrumentation on things like Blue Bell Knoll and Treasure

rentboy (rentboy), Saturday, 12 August 2006 20:56 (eleven years ago) Permalink

fortunate hazel is a big fan i think. i like shellyann orphan as well, certainly not a dud. helleborine is wonderful.

harvest ministers, everyone loved them after the first single but they seemed to get abandoned pretty quickly and wrongly since they remained as lovely as ever on each of the three records. guy from tompaulin clearly wants to be a harvest minister in another life.

keyth (keyth), Saturday, 12 August 2006 21:35 (eleven years ago) Permalink

they remained as lovely as ever on each of the three records

A Feeling Mission was their masterpiece, I think. They should've been bigger than the Go-Betweens. (Like that's saying much to begin with...)

And, as if to prove your point, they made more than three records, didn't they? Little Dark Mansion, A Feeling Mission, Orbit, My Star Is Shining (with a half-nod to the Embezzling Kisses EP)

Myke. (Myke Weiskopf), Sunday, 13 August 2006 00:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I have the Embezzling Kisses EP but never actually got around to buying My Star Is Shining. Need to correct that soon.

They're great - and I'd agree that A Feeling Mission is their high point

rentboy (rentboy), Sunday, 13 August 2006 01:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

shatter is an amazing song and i love her contributions to this mortal coil's 'blood' album

electric sound of jim [and why not] (electricsound), Sunday, 13 August 2006 09:42 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Apparently they performed a reunion concert about a month ago. From

The Waterboys + Shelleyan Orphan
Salty seadog Mike Scott and his majestic folk rockers return, expect such frothy hits 'Whole Of The Moon' and 'Fisherman's Blues' at this gig dedicated to the memory of Anita Roddick. Flouncy, pre-Raphaelite-styled duo support in their first live performance for fifteen years.

I couldn't come up with any more details, but it seems like a one-off event. Hopefully a proper reunion is around the corner...

hawth, Tuesday, 1 January 2008 01:02 (ten years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

In the mail today -- any hyperfreaks might want to note the next to last paragraph:


Shelleyan Orphan

‘We Have Everything We Need’

Shelleyan Orphan Unveil First NEW album in 16 years.

Out October 13th on One Little Indian

So begins the story of Shelleyan Orphan. Their name, taken in homage to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley is what brought Caroline Crawley and Jem Tayle together at first, forming the band in 1983 in Bournemouth, eventually signing to Rough Trade in 1985.

Combining their love of all musical genres the duo created an unusual blend of pop on their debut Helleborine, utilising a full range of classical instruments, including some obscure ones, like the Strumento da Porca and tamboura. Their influences were diverse as well, as anything from Joy Division to Sparks, Barry White and Delius ebbed and flowed through their ethereal and pulsating sound. Yet above all, Shellyan Orphan is a vocal band. This was illuminated with their next album, 1989s brilliant and critically acclaimed Century Flower, produced by Dave Allen (The Cure, Human League). Following the release, the band toured supporting The Cure throughout Europe and America gaining a wider fan base.

The third album, 1992’s Humroot once again found the duo implementing their love of musical combinations. It found its way to their fanbase and enabled them to continue playing for a few years. After that, Caroline and Jem took a long break from the music industry, coming together occasionally but not as Shelleyan Orphan, until now.

So here is their first new recordings in sixteen years, a collection entitled We Have Everything We Need. They recorded the album at Riverside Studios in Bath with Steve Evans (Siouxsie, Robert Plant and the Proclaimers), while the strings and woodwinds were recorded in Budapest with the Hungarian National Radio Orchestra. The album blends a unique use of strings, woodwind and the unusual (a Hurdy Gurdy and Celeste, for example) with the rhythms of Boris Williams (The Cure) and Charlie Jones (Goldfrapp, Robert Plant).

Moreover, with We Have Everything We Need, Caroline and Jem’s voices come together beautifully once more, but the sound is more calculated, mature and patient. Space is left for the singers to explore, reinvigorate and revisit past melodies, harmonies and fantasies. It’s a jubilant listen, timeless as always, and fitting with the rest of Shelleyan Orphan’s canon.

In addition, a 5 CD/DVD box set is due out in the winter featuring all four albums, a bonus disc of unreleased music and a DVD.

Fall tour dates are also TBC.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 24 July 2008 15:49 (nine years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

man this news really excites me, probably more than it should.

also, this:

YAY! More Caroline singing!

Now we just need to get Ms Fraser back on the microphone and I can get back to being a mopey goth schoolboy again

rentboy, Thursday, 11 September 2008 15:36 (nine years ago) Permalink

They had a little trouble pulling together real stunner full-lengths (though Century Flower really works), but when they were firing, they were pretty incredible, and not nearly as flouncy or mopey as they were made out to be. I'll be pleased as hell to listen through something new.

nabisco, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

Thinking it over now, I would actually guess that I wind up listening to at least one Shelleyan Orphan track a month -- usually either "Shatter," "Fishes," or "Timeblind."

nabisco, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

I just remember seeing them open for The Cure on the Prayer Tour, and they were so wonderfully out of place and great in the Lakewood Ampitheatre in the daylight hours... i went home after thought and sought out every thing of theirs i could get my hands on.they occupy one of those great spots in my collection that are reserved for "equally grown-up but having fun with it" groups like Frazier Chorus, The Divine Comedy and - to a certain extent - much of David Byrne's solo output.

oh god typing that out makes it look awful and i want to take it all back

rentboy, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:48 (nine years ago) Permalink

makes *me* look awful

rentboy, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:49 (nine years ago) Permalink

You horrible person.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

We should concentrate instead on this not-entirely-promising bit from that article:

"Both of us went into the healing arts," explains Crawley, whose chosen field was "Hawaiian healing body work and singing therapy". She travelled to India, the Himalayas and Australia where she stayed with Aborigines as a way of working through unhappy childhood memories. . . . Tayle immersed himself in the study of Chinese medicine and holistic therapies, which he proceeded to mete out to the great and the good. "I massaged Johnny Depp three times," he laughs, "but the most surreal one was Thom Yorke."

nabisco, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:52 (nine years ago) Permalink

I mean, no offense to the "healing arts," but there's something about doing Hawaiian healing body work with Aborigines to work through your childhood issues that has TERRIBLE ALBUM written all over it

nabisco, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:53 (nine years ago) Permalink

yeah, but it could also mean ukeleles, digeridoos and caroline crawley singing over it, which would be :swoon:

rentboy, Thursday, 11 September 2008 19:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Finally am getting around to hearing this album -- it's really quite lovely sounding, perhaps unsurprisingly, and while there are some headscratching lyrics at plenty of points the whole thing sounds marvellous, an extension of what was before while not simply going over the old ground. Crawley's voice sounds a bit cooler, Tayle's guitar playing and orchestral arrangements complement hear and each other excellently. It's very clearly THEM, for lack of a better word.

Also, it's just damned great to hear Boris Williams drumming on anything again; there's something so perfect he adds to almost every song beyond simply timekeeping.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 8 August 2010 17:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

Ah man. Caroline Crawley has passed:

It is with deep sadness that my dearest oldest mate in life & music passed away today after a long illness

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 4 October 2016 19:54 (one year ago) Permalink

Good grief, what horrible news

Rae Kwoniff (NickB), Tuesday, 4 October 2016 20:08 (one year ago) Permalink

Man 2016 please just STOP IT.

Why shout alone at your TV when you can shout at the world on ILX (Dan Peterson), Tuesday, 4 October 2016 20:28 (one year ago) Permalink

oh fuck, this is so sad. RIP.

Bee OK, Wednesday, 5 October 2016 00:52 (one year ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
box set coming out at end of the month

Stevolende, Friday, 16 June 2017 20:53 (one year ago) Permalink

Bought this on a whim given the This Mortal Coil and Pentangle connections, sound-unheard. And at least with 'Helleborine' I think I like it a lot. It walks a fine line, that most things trying to tread would fall badly. And they sound weirdly 2000s-2010s to me, which I normally wouldn't care for. . . But I think the weird 'Astral Weeks' + 'Innocence Mission' thing they're doing really works, mostly because the arrangements are so strong. This is a band I could see emo teenagers from any period of indie rockness between the late 90s and today finding and becoming obsessed with. But it's still working for me for some reason. The box set doesn't seem to be setting the world on fire, anyway, but I could totally see some enterprising young hip group I've never heard of covering some of these tracks to acclaim:

Soundslike, Sunday, 25 June 2017 01:45 (eleven months ago) Permalink

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.