BENJAMIN ORR – The Lace [Wounded Bird Records remastered] (2021) *EXCLUSIVE*
Out of print and fetching ridiculous price at auction sites, Wounded Bird Records has reissued their remastered version of The Car’s founding member BENJAMIN ORR only solo album, “The Lace“.
With guitars handled by session whiz Michael Landau and bandmate Elliot Easton, and co-production / keyboards courtesy of talented musician and longtime Joni Mitchell collaborator/then-husband Larry Klein, the musicianship was top-notch, and the same can be said for the majority of the songs, all of which were co-written by Orr with his fiancée Diane Grey Page.
Originally appeared in 1986, “The Lace” is pure ’80s from every corner: this is a terrific slice from that golden era with ‘that’ sound – co-produced / engineered by the great Mike Shipley (Def Leppard, Scorpions).
The atmospheric AOR Top 40 single “Stay The Night” still is a classic radio staple, and one of the best representation of the ’80s.
The Cars were a great band, and as musicians, Ric Ocasek, Orr, Greg Hawkes, Elliot Easton and David Robinson are all equal parts amazing. Many of their fans may be prone to pit Ocasek against Orr when it comes to who’s the band’s true frontman. For me, it’s no question — Orr was the band’s look, sound and style.
You can watch as much live footage of the group as you want; when he’s front and center, Orr is the definition of dynamic and foxy. Just watch him enthrall nearly 100,000 people at Live Aid back in 1985 at the height of his band’s fame — at age 37 no less!
However, Ric Ocasek was The Cars ‘press man’, the leading voice in interviews, and got the main camera shots for the MTV videos.
But for one brief shining moment in 1986, Orr was the center of solo attention for the first time. In October of that year, he would release his first – and ultimately only – solo album, ”The Lace”.
Instead of relying on Cars partner Ocasek to supply him with words, Orr opted to write with a new muse, his fiancée Diane Grey Page. She would provide the entirety of the album’s lyrics.
Using their relationship as inspiration, the pair spent several months assembling the album’s 10 tracks before flying to England to record the album for Elektra with a core group of musicians, including Larry Klein on keyboards and Orr’s fellow The Cars’ Elliot Easton on guitars, while Michael Landau recorded his guitar parts / solos in the USA.
The album did well in many countries with its elegant tunes and smooth sounds. Listening to it now 2021 reveals to be a genuinely strong AOR effort.
“Stay the Night,” the very first track written with Page, would be the Orr’s only solo Top 40 hit, peaking at Number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Though the subject matter is sweet, Orr makes sure to infuse some edge into its tracks. “Too Hot to Stop,” musically can almost double as a Sammy Hagar tune.
Listening to ‘Skyline’ will transport you to AOR Central, a rich vein of melody accompanying you at every turn. It’s some kind of Orr’s ode to Boston with a 1986-87 glossy production.
Orr slows up the tempo on the captivating ”When You’re Gone”, using a cascade of bell effects to add to the atmosphere.
“Hold On” has Orr hitting notes he never dare tried with The Cars, title track ”The Lace” borders on quirky, the keyboard lines out of key in places while the following track ‘That’s The Way’ is fast paced and slightly manic.
The album concludes with the mid-paced smoothness of ‘This Time Around’, a great way to sign off.
As most of us are aware, Ben Orr died of pancreatic cancer in 2000. I’m sure he would be highly amused if he was still with us, but for some funny reason, the album had been known to sell for very high prices on eBay.
That was until Wounded Bird Records came along with this very well balanced remaster, which also became out of print. Now, fortunately, has been re-printed.
If you are fan of classic ’80s hi-tech AOR with a heap of keyboards and an excellent singer, then ‘The Lace’ should be a compulsory acquisition.
For me, it’s a must have.
Only at 0dayrox
01 – Too Hot To Stop
02 – In Circles
03 – Stay The Night
04 – Skyline
05 – When You’re Gone
06 – Spinning
07 – Hold On
08 – The Lace
09 – That’s The Way
10 – This Time Around
Vocals, Bass – Benjamin Orr
Guitar – Elliot Easton, Mike Landau
Keyboards – Larry Klein
Umi Programmer – Paul Ridout
Backing Vocals – Ben Orr, Diane Page
Co-Produced & Engineered by Mike Shipley