An orgone box is a device created by Wilhelm Reich to capture the energy of the universe, while The Orgone Box is a musical device created by Rick Corcoran to capture the energy of late ‘60s pop-psychedelia. While skeptics lambasted Reich’s device, Corcoran’s device deserves wide praise. This one truly resurrects the magical sounds of that era with a wry insouciance that is positively endearing.
Once upon a time in the UK—mid-‘90s, to be precise—there was a combo called Orange that scored a minor radio hit with “Judy Over the Rainbow”. From this minor hit and the mind and talents of one Rick Corcoran came a stripped down version of this hit and 11 other pop/psych gems assembled collectively as The Orgone Box. This self-titled CD featured all vocals and instruments by the gifted Corcoran, except for drums and a Roland MC300 part. Launched on an obscure Japanese label in 1996, it landed somewhere in musical limbo, where its relative anonymity remained undisturbed—a musical crime of the highest order. Thank goodness Bill Forsyth and the folks at Minus Zero Records have seen fit to finally right that wrong by re-releasing its wonderful music this past March.
Opening with a jangly electric Rickenbacker riff that sounds like Roger McGuinn interpretating Buddy Judge’s Grays classic “Everybody’s World”, the magically paisley journey begins. “Hello Central . . . Give Me Ganymede” sets the stage for what might be one of the strongest pop collections of the past decade. Hook-laden songs with swirling and soaring sonic passages, baroque arrangements and appropriately contemplative lyrics truly invoke the spirits of musical gods past, from Lennon and his Beatle compatriots to The Byrds to early Pink Floyd to more recent torchbearers of the legacy like Cotton Mather (shades of Kon Tiki all over the place here), Oasis, Martin Newell (Greatest Living Englishman) and Robyn Hitchcock.
This is the kind of collection that quickly grows to become your favorite. Corcoran knows how to do it right, mixing the vocals and the guitars and drums and bass-lines to make tasty selections into instant classics. He does it over and over again here, making it hard to pick favorites and easy to tune in and drop out, as Dr. Leary suggested long ago.
Corcoran will have you all over the musical map, perhaps hearing some Hollies in “Disposable” or Belle & Sebastian in “There’ll Always Be Attitudes”. “World Revolves” trades on several musical traditions to create an original tune that holds its own with any other past jangly guitar favorite, while “Find The One” is the John Lennon song he never wrote. “The Song Formerly Known As Mirrorball” is a bit darker sounding, and as such seems to fit well into the post-Cobain musical canon. “Judy Over the Rainbow” is a trippy tribute to Judy and her dreaming reality. “Ticket with No Return” might just be the catchiest tune of them all.
I heartily recommend you go out and purchase a copy to find what fun exists here. I do hope that The Orgone Box is not an isolated instance and that Rick Corcoran will give us more of his music and talents. Until he does, though, treat yourself to this fantastic genuine gem of time travel into the world of psychedelic pop.