Sunday, August 26, 2012

5 for a Sunday Morning-Ben Orr, CTS, Simple Minds

From the late 70's to thru mid 80's The Cars were a constant on Rock and pop radio. Ben Orr was one of the two lead vocalist in the band. And while the other singer, Ric Ocasek, wrote all of the songs, even Ric says Ben was the better singer. 
He sang lead on hits like " Just What I Needed', "It's All I can Do", and "Drive".
In 1986 the Cars were taking a break after having their biggest success with the "Heartbeat City" album. 
In the fall of that year Ric Ocasek released his 2nd solo album and Orr released his first. Orr collaborated with his then fiance Diana Grey-Page on the songs. The album sounds of it's time with an 80's sheen to the production but the songs were strong. It was produced by Mike Shipley who had worked on the last few Cars projects. In my opinion, it is the best Cars solo album.
Sadly Orr passed away in 2000 from cancer.

 Ocasek would snicker in his 2011 Rolling Stone interview that part of the Cars breakup had to do with Orr wanting to submit songs he wrote with Grey. Ocasek said "no way". He makes her sound like she's Yoko Ono. This was not the case...the proof is in the songs...

The cd has been in and out of print a few times (currently out of print again). I would recommend seeking it out. Good for late night listening or a Sunday morning.

 "we've had good times together put all my dreams on you
you let me down somehow and now i see where to
turns out my best just wasn't good enough for you"

                                          Benjamin Orr- "the Lace"



Ric Ocasek has gone onto to do a number of solo albums. 
In 1991 he enlisted Nile Rodgers of Chic to produce his "Fireball Zone" album. Rodgers was one of the hottest producers of the 80's working with Madonna, Duran Duran, David Bowie, etc. His star was starting to wane by this time. 
It's a bit of an odd pairing but it's not a bad album and Guitarist Larry Mitchell was an asset.

  here's a straight out pop tune with a reggae lilt to it.

             ric ocasek- "all We Need is Love"

Without Roxy Music, their would be no Duran Duran, David Sylvian/Japan and the bands like them. Bryan Ferry and the guys evolved from a Glam pop/punk band into a suave, more esoteric unit by their conclusion in 1983.  "Flesh and Blood" might be their best album from start to finish.

                             Roxy Music "Flesh and Blood"

Simple Minds might appear as a poor man's U2 to many, but they made some energetic music in the 80's. I view 1984's "Sparkle in the Rain" as their creative high. I was never a big fan of the  "Don't You Forget About Me' period that followed and brought the band a larger American  audience.  i find that song one of the most overrated in the 80's.

"Sparkle in the Rain' was produced by Steve Lillywhite. Lillywhite had developed one of the best recorded drum sounds around. His productions were a sonic representation of  what the starkness of a winter in the UK might be like. "icy" is a term that comes to mind.
 The crack of Larry Mullen's snare on "War", the Edge's burst of delayed guitar stabs on those early albums. The melancholy echoes used on Big Country's first two albums...
It's nice to see that Lillywhite is still around, even though his methods have changed to the suit the times.

                  Simple Minds "the Kick inside of Me"


Crack the Sky has been able to maintain a healthy fan base in the mid Atlantic states for over 35 years. I admit I haven't always kept up with the bands more recent output.
 I just borrowed their 2010 release "the Machine" from the public library.  I am just starting to explore it. 
Original members Joe Macre and Joe D'Amico return to the lineup for this one. Macre also produced the release.

This one caught my attention on the lyric. In these days when we are so divided as a country, we often divide ourselves by attaching "labels" to our identities. Hyphenating ourselves.
 Wearing them as an armor. Demanding that others recognize for racial, ethnic, sexual traits above all! 
I remember when Jessie Jackson used to preach "common ground". I have always liked that ideal. When you meet someone, both people should try to find a common ground to be able to relate. Especially in the workplace. 
But these days factions and special interests rule. 
 We've lost our common ground.

                       Crack the Sky "Hyphen -American"

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