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Man on The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown - by Roger Shepherd

The Story of The Orange's 1986 EP, 'Fruit Salad Lives'


"Andrew Brough had spotted a space in the Dunedin music world for The Orange to manoeuvre into and through, despite it becoming an environment that was becoming nosier, and musically darker..."
The Story of The Orange band's 1986 EP, 'Fruit Salad Lives'

by Roger Shepherd

Founder of Flying Nun Records in 1981, Roger has been involved in the label for much of the past 40 years. In 2016 he published the book “In Love With These Times: My Life With Flying Nun Records" (Harper Collins).


Original photo by Jeremy Freeman. Simon Grigg collection.

Andrew Brough was a singular talent in a musical world where collaboration was fundamental for success. Transfixed at eight years old by the guitar playing of his teacher at Dargaville Primary School in 1971, Andrew learnt the instrument and had become a student of 1960’s melodic psychedelic music by his later teens. His appreciation and understanding of this style were fundamental to the songs he started to write and perform. A musical style that he developed with increased expertise and sophistication.



Andrew Brough (bottom row, second from the right) in his 1971 Standard 1 Dargaville Primary School class photo. Teacher Lloma Reeve (nee Dreadon) says “young Andrew loved singing and took a keen interest when I showed him chords on the guitar."

Andrew’s first band was the Blue Meanies. The band also featured Max Satchell (ex Sneaky Feelings), Martin Kean (later of The Chills and Stereolab) and Richard Allen. The band were named after the bad blue guys who take over the world in the Beatles' Yellow Submarine animated 1968 film. The Blue Meanies were partially inspired by bands such as the Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen from the early 80’s Liverpool scene which drew on classic British 60’s psychedelia as an inspiration. After two years and a little unfulfilled promise the band members went their separate ways.

Pulling Jonathan Moore (ex Bored Games) and Peter Bragan together as his rhythm section in early 1984, Andrew founded The Orange as a vehicle for his melody focused songs. Melody expertly communicated via his understated but carefully played guitar and soaring ethereal vocals. Visually, Andrew was bespectacled with a mop of red hair and a noticeable reluctance to be the front man. He just wanted to play the songs without any fuss.

The Orange came together at a similar time as the Doublehappys were recruiting John Collie on drums and starting to get serious. Another band around Dunedin at this time was the Alpaca Brothers who were of the big noisy jammy style of The Stones. This was a general trend of the time; bands were starting to get brasher and louder musically. The Orange were working towards the other end of the musical spectrum where Martin Phillipps and The Chills could be found. A place where neat well-defined songs and performances with melody and harmony were valued and taken seriously. Andrew was working with limited resources when his musical ambitions were relatively musically grand.

Dunedin fanzine Garage wrote about The Orange in their second issue, heavily latching on to the psychedelic aspect of the music to which Andrew responded dismissively “If people want to think we are psychedelic that’s up to them” and also commented on the straightforward nature of the “songs that reflect a 60’s influence” as “good songs with good melodies”.

Fruit Salad Lives was recorded at the local Strawberry Fields Studio with Mike Pearce in September 1985. It’s a just adequate effort but Andrew’s stylistic intentions are clear. The bounding and up-tempo opener ‘Fruit Salad Lives’ sets the scene with short sharp piece of pop with a solid rhythm scaffolding supporting Andrew’s jangling guitar and soaring vocals. 'No Reason to Hide’ and ‘What’s in a Name’ are serious lyrically driven efforts with clever well executed melodic touches. ‘The Fly’ is the winner of the collection and was the live favourite at the time. The songs are good and show potential melodic and harmonic inventiveness but Andrew needs more expertise and finesse in support than The Orange three-piece can give him.



The striking magenta mauve purple cover built around a Jeremy Freeman (Sneaky Feelings' manager) photo of the band with red late 60s’ styled lettering for band name and title means the record was striking when it was released the following year. Lesley Maclean designed a very distinctive bright red and orange poster for the release:



The record received a lukewarm record review from Paul McKessar in Rip It Up (May 1986) along with a story in the same issue by Buffy O’Reilly where the normal concerns such as 60’s influences and “airy vocals and melodic unabrasive guitar” are discussed along with his observation that with older bands spending more time out of town and a lack of new bands coming through “the Dunedin scene… [which] is disintegrating”. Nether-the-less Andrew had spotted a space in the Dunedin music world for The Orange to manoeuvre into and through despite it becoming an environment that was becoming nosier, and musically darker.

Drummer Peter Bragan abruptly departs leaving The Orange stranded with an EP about to be released and needing promotion in the form of a national tour. There is no “new” Orange line up and sales are limited to friends in Dunedin and the curious elsewhere. Anyhow Andrew’s personal musical ambitions had outstripped the limitations of the three-piece and he was at a loose end. What to do and where to go for this musically ambitious and career minded young man?

 

♢—♢—♢—♢
 
Man On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is a blog written by Roger Shepherd, founder of Flying Nun Records. Recounting tales from the early days. Updated weekly.  

1 comment


  • Thanks for the wonderful post! Is this EP available through Flying Nun? (ALSO: Any plans to release the BRILLIANT Able Tasmans lp “Store In A Cool Place” on vinyl? It’s on my ALL-TIME Top 20 albums… Cheers!

    John Mavroudis on

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