When The Orchids were in Bloom
Lightning doesn’t usually strike twice. So it’s no surprise that when rock impresario Kim Fowley tried to replicate the success of his all-girl band The Runaways with another all-girl ensemble, the results fizzled instead of sizzled.
That’s a shame because the group in question, The Orchids, released a pretty good album in 1980. The self-titled release eschews The Runaways overdrive sound in favor of girl-group melodicism and snappy new wave tempos. Producer Fowley (who also takes credit as “director”) wrote or co-wrote almost all the songs on this LP, and while there are no flashes of brilliance, it’s consistently listenable and enjoyable.
Lead vocalist Jan King (not the author of the same name!) shows a lot of range, coasting through the ballads, rockers and mid-tempo numbers with ease.
A few years after The Orchids came and went, several all-women bands like The Go-Go's and The Bangles reaped lots of commercial success with similar sounds.
The Orchids LP doesn’t touch the best work of either of those bands, but is definitely worth hearing, especially if you’re a fan of obscure new wave acts.
The Orchids was released on MCA Records as MCA-3235 and is unavailable on CD.