One of my abiding musical passions is for the sixties girl group. Experience has taught me that there are two main types: the smooth, soulful ones, and the less polished, slightly shouty ones. The Orchids are firmly in the latter camp. Three schoolgirls from Coventry, Pam, Georgina and Val were spotted at a local talent show, signed to Decca records and tipped for instant stardom. They never had a hit, but they received lots of exposure (including a comic strip in ‘Judy’) and generally appealed to the nation’s ‘good for you’ ethos. Their musical career lasted about eighteen months and they released three singles, all of which are relatively sought after today.
'Love Hit Me’ (1963) showcases their style, a sort of energetic assault on the ear, all girls singing together, at once - in tune, but not particularly harmoniously. It’s a lumpy, messy sound, but human and immediate, and rather affecting in its own way. Bananarama would later have a twenty year career using this formula - with most of the charm removed.
Girl groups were often treated appallingly by the ruthless male dominated music industry, but The Orchids seem to have had a lot of fun in their brief time in the spotlight. Their records may not have moved pop music forward in its relentless march of progression, but their recordings have an honesty and sincerity that is not in any way cool, but is immensely likeable. They remind me why I love girl groups so much: because girls are so much better than boys at emotion and, after all, its emotion that keeps us listening in the end.