Feb 22, 2012

Bleep Years day fifteen: The Orb's Blue Room (1992)

Bleep Years continues. Join me on an amazing journey of discovery into my dull life. This time, it's a track from 20 years ago which, for those with calculators, makes me at least 20 years old.

1992: The Orb's Blue Room

At the turn of the 1990s, The Orb released three killer singles: Little Fluffy Clouds (which took an aeon to grab its deserved place in the top ten), Perpetual Dawn and Blue Room. Despite the diminutive fluffy clouds hanging in the public's memory for a long time afterwards, it was Blue Room that scored the highest chart position of the three.

Blue Room was remarkable for two reasons. Firstly, the band's appearance on Top Of The Pops was no doubt a surprise to them. They turned out one of the show's most memorable performances: no-one has since played chess so intensely on a peak time music programme.

And secondly, The Orb messed with the chart rules. By 1992, the KLF had become notorious for their coldy-calculated, ice-cool undermining of the rulebook. At the time of Blue Room's release, the the maximum allowable length for a single was 40 minutes. Most people would assume that meant the main single plus all the remixes. The Orb's track Blue Room came in at three seconds short of 40 minutes, giving radio stations heart attacks and giving The Orb the strange honour of having the longest hit single of all time.

I was totally lost in The Orb's music back in the day: their dense audio worlds spun alien webs inside my addled noggin. It's only with hindsight that I've realised that, to some extent, I've also always aspire to their principles of 'event' performance and messing with the established rules. As for their chart record? They've changed the rules, so don't expect a Blue Room 2.

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