The Orb

The further adventures of Kris Needs, our very own time travelling audio adventurer

The loneliness of the long-distance author has become a familiar scenario since I wrote my (quite presciently titled) autobiography ‘Needs Must’ in 1998. Since then, there’s been a sporadic string of the buggers and these last few months have seen me bringing home the 10th – ‘Babble On An’ Ting’, the biography of my old friend Alex Paterson, aka The Orb.

No matter how I try new approaches, something always seems to happen (and 2019 was one obstacle after another), those last couple of months before deadline inevitably becoming 18-hour days tinged with escalating panic. Only fellow authors can understand the total immersion in “the zone” once this point is reached as ideas, convoluted facts and vital elements that have, sometimes incredibly, been overlooked jostle around the brain in every waking moment like a street fight in a Turkish wrestler’s Y-fronts.

On the other hand, it really helps when you’re big into or interested in your subject. Otherwise, it becomes a job – a thankless task that’s rarely cost effective unless you’re in the higher echelons. I’ve been lucky, writing books about Primal Scream, The Clash, Keith Richards, Blondie, George Clinton and Suicide. I’ve known Alex for nearly 40 years and have loved The Orb from the first record. Revisiting that golden period around ‘UF Orb’, including remixing and DJing for them, has been an unmitigated blast and there’s certainly a happy ending with stunning new album, ‘Abolition Of The Royal Familia’ and our Vinyl On Wednesdays events coming to London’s legendary Troubadour (Vinyl At The Troubadour) – our first guest Alex.

But I wasn’t prepared for the hellish nightmare of Alex’s single-mother childhood and six-year ordeal at an oppressive Christian-military boarding school, where he became friends with fellow pupil Youth and they became punks when they left. These early struggles motivated the manifestation of The Orb, which certainly didn’t fall from the skies puffing a big fat one. This is one book that felt special the moment I started it, and listening to little else but Orb-related music and those inestimably influential New York radio tapes, it has been a total, all-immersive labour of love.

By the time you read this, I should have finished writing the book… and I really hope I have. It’s due to be published in the summer and I can’t wait for the world to read it. That is a very good sign.

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