Music

Instant Orange: Instant Orange

Chris Conaton

This disc collects the entire discography of a forgotten early '70s folk-rock band. It's the first time their music has been released beyond their original pressings of 100 copies.


Instant Orange

Instant Orange

Label: Shadoks Music
US Release Date: 2008-02-19
UK Release Date: 2008-04-21
Amazon
iTunes

The hardcore vinyl record collectors at Shadoks Music would have you believe that they've unearthed a gem in early 1970s San Bernadino band Instant Orange. They haven't, but the disc at least makes for an interesting listen. Co-frontmen Terry Walters and Randy Lanier founded Instant Orange and kept the band alive for seven off and on years, with a rotating cast of other players. During that time, the group produced a couple of singles, an album, and two EPs. Those releases was pressed independently, with only 100 copies of each ever produced (save for their first single. Walters says they were talked into ordering 300 instead for that one, and that they didn't let it happen again.) None of the members went on to make a career out of music, so it's not really a surprise that the band was more or less forgotten until now.

Terry Walters admits in the detailed liner notes that he and Randy Lanier's main touchstones were '60s folk-rock bands like the Byrds and Love. This is apparent throughout the disc, as the jangly sound of the 12-string electric guitar dominates many of the songs. The music is catchy enough, but neither frontman really had the vocal or lyrical ability to make the band come alive as a solid successor to their influences. In fact, the vocals on the band's album Five Year Premiere are mixed so softly that they're tough to make out, although this is not a problem on the singles or EPs.

The band really comes alive when it tries things outside the folky comfort zone. The banjo-and-kazoo instrumental hoedown "Cycle II" is highly entertaining, and the harder-rocking "Silent Green" has an energy the rest of Five Year Premiere is missing. The group's two singles also prove successful. The poppy "You I'll Be Following" has the band's strongest hook, and with a producer and better singer, I could see it getting radio play back when it was released in '68. The second single, released in 1973, has the fun and bouncy country tune "Same Old Thing", and features the best singing in Instant Orange's discography.

The band's latter-day EPs, one released in 1974 and the other in '75, showcase a broadening sound and a full-time keyboard player, Joe Bianchi. The '74 EP opens with the meandering rock song "Suburban Pictorial Abstract", but goes into boogie blues for the aptly-named "20 to 6 Bianchi Boogie". The 8-minute instrumental jam "Theme From Beat Whistle" closes out this release. It's a jazzy and engaging song that features some really strong keyboard and guitar solos, and musical changes. The 1975 EP was the band's final release. Its songs find the band trying more new things, from the darker "Paper Lay" to the piano-driven bluesy "Skyline". "Flight of the Mary Celeste" sounds like the band had been listening to its '70s contemporaries with story-based lyrics and fuzzed-out guitar solos.

Instant Orange is an exhaustive historical document. Besides the music, the extensive liner notes contain a history of the band and the story of how the people at Shadoks discovered their records, and decided to re-release them. The notes also contain many photos of the band and the original records, as well as the dates of their live performances. Instant Orange itself was not a great band, but was at least pretty good, and fans of '60s folk-rock and jangle pop may find a lot to like here.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image