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Orpheus

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Customer Reviews

"Bruce Arnold & Orpheus At Their Best" - Mojo Magazine

Mojo magazine recently wrote, "The debut album was Bruce Arnold and Orpheus at their best, 'Can't Find The Time'...just beautiful." 1. "I've Never Seen Love Like This" – Upon hearing "CFTT", music legend Wes Ferrell told Orpheus leader Bruce Arnold, "write another song like that and I'll sign you." Arnold responded by composing this number with a verse or two contributed by bassist John Eric Gulliksen. Gulliksen does not actually play on this album as producer Alan Lorber employed Joe Macho Jr. (from “Like A Rolling Stone” fame). In addition, the legendary Bernard “Pretty” Purdie fills in for the band's inept drummer and would turn up both credited and uncredited throughout the group’s remaining three albums. Bruce has remarked, “Purdie is the only drummer who understood my unique strumming patterns. He always had the right rhythm for my songs.” 2. "Lesley's World" – Penned specifically for Arnold by Lorber's then wife, Lesley Miller, this track was released as a B-side to “CFTT” and received heavy airplay on the East Coast. Lorber borrowed the intro from Jimmy Webb's "Up-Up And Away" but arguably created a more sophisticated arrangement. Both songs address the idea of romantic escape; however "Up-Up And Away" seems geared more towards adolescents. 3. "Congress Alley" – The first song that writer Steve Martin, Arnold's friend and fellow "alley" inhabitant, auditioned for Orpheus. Early demos reveal that Arnold significantly changed Martin's original arrangement, altering the tempo, chords and song structure. After “CFTT”, it is the band's second most covered song with later versions being recorded by The Alan Lorber Orchestra, Clean Living and a group called Congress Alley, headed up by former Doo-Wop legend, Lee Andrews. 4. "Music Machine" - Written for and about Orpheus (the “machine that was pumping out a pretty tune"), Steve Martin’s lyrics paint a deceptively naïve image. Like many of Arnold’s compositions, the words actually contain veiled spiritual references. Biblical themes would later characterize much of Arnold & Martin’s work on the band’s fourth album. Fans will note that backup singer Jack McKenes actually sings lead, though his performance is basically a carbon-copy of Arnold’s own acoustic demo. 5. "Door Knob Song" - Placing all three of Martin's compositions back-to-back, Arnold & Lorber could not have chose a better track to encapsulate side one. Whereas "Music Machine" only implied spiritual themes, “Door Knob” dives straight into the Bible, emerging with references to the fallen angels of Genesis. According to Arnold, “the lyrics have dual meanings but the song is basically about demonic possession…‘Are the heroes and villains at your house too?’ We’re singing about the fallen angels and even the Nephilim - those ‘god-like’ beings who ‘seldom cry’ and have ‘forgotten to remember how not to fly.” Bruce adds, “the line, ‘just who are you who put them down’ was directed at God.” He laughs, “Steve liked the idea of frightening people.” Regardless of Martin’s intentions, this was pretty heady stuff for a pop group. The orchestral arrangement is breathtaking and Arnold beautifully phrases the lyrics. The last falsetto lines coupled with the pizzicato finale is chilling. 6. "I'll Stay With You" - Side two begins with what is arguably the band's most under appreciated song. Apparently it received some regional airplay on the East Coast but did little more than strengthen an already growing number of devoted Orpheus fans like Laura Nyro and a young Bradley Delp. The final bars showcase some amazing drum fills by Purdie. 7. "Can't Find The Time" - Issued four times in as many years, the band’s “debut single” was horribly fumbled by MGM. Its third release would reach #80 on the Hot 100, though records show the single was a Top 10 hit in both Eastern and Southern markets including most Midwestern cities. The song also remained on the Top 20 for several months in San Francisco, Fresno and Los Angeles; though it’s most impressive performance was in Hawaii where it reached the number one spot six times in three years! With melodies that recall R&B classics like Billy Stewart's "Sitting In The Park" and The Miracles’ “Ooo Baby Baby”, many have labeled it “Northern Soul”; however few can argue the timeless arrangement is as unique now as it was in ‘68. Much of this is due to Arnold’s intricate guitar work (from which Lorber based the orchestration) as well as that distinctive baritone voice. 8. "Never In My Life" - Rumored to have been considered for release by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, this lovely ¾ time gem showcases Arnold's sophisticated vocal delivery. Only 19-years old when he wrote it, the song had almost been forgotten until Lorber asked Arnold if he had “any more stuff.” Bruce recalls, “Lorber was ecstatic when he first heard it. I can remember playing [it] and my arrangement of Congress Alley to him over the phone. There was a short pause and then he said ‘Bruce, you’re a genius.” Together with Purdie and Macho Jr., Arnold created a thrilling undercurrent which Lorber took obvious delight in orchestrating. The wild varispeed effect at the end (Lorber’s idea) was about as psychedelic as Orpheus would ever get. 9. "The Dream" - Irene Trudel, DJ for WFMU repeatedly refers to this as one of the “most beautiful songs ever written.” Arnold revealed that after performing it for the legendary Ali Akbar Khan in 1972, Khan was so moved he invited Arnold to stay at his home for as long as he pleased. Bruce later returned the gesture when he used his political connections to have Khan's birthday recognized as Ali Akbar Khan Day in the state of California. The late Collin Walcott, one of Khan's disciples, adds beautiful Indian instrumentation to the track and Lorber's orchestration was so poignant on it's own, he later included it (sans Arnold's voice and guitar) on the reissue of his "Lotus Palace" CD in 1996. Characteristically, Lorber failed to credit Arnold as composer.

"So Many Things To Say!"

"I Could Fit Them In A Book Of A Thousand Pages, Yeah!" @1967; The East Coast tried to "cash in" on the "San Francisco/West Coast" sound of "Psychedelic-Rock"; with what came to be coined:"The Bosstown Sound!" {Ultimate Spinach; Beacon Street Union; Lost; Puff; Rockin' Ramrods & Orpheus all had varying; if short-lived success!} (Let's face it;People; Boylston St./Mass. Ave.in staid, old Beantown never was nor could it ever be the famous Haight/Ashbury in groovy, trippy San Francisco, Man!) Floating out and continuing to live on in Oldies/AOR Radio is just one practically perfect song: "I Can't Find The Time To Tell You" by Orpheus! Warm, nostalgic, sentimental and yes, poppy; "Can't Find The Time" can still be heard on late-night Easy-Listening Stations and Adult Contemporary Radio (We've even heard it played at Weddings;how perfect is that?) Orpheus are still around today in the New England area; now they're called "Orpheus Rising" or "Orpheus Ascending") They did make four easy-listenable records of harmonious pop-rock; and dropped off the charts; never again to score another "Big Hit" like "Time To Tell You!" {Listen in, Orpheus rises again!}...by Grimmbo.

Great to see this album re released on MP3

All these reviews are wrong about this being a Boston Based band. They were Worcester Massachusetts and then Barre, Massachsetts based band. Bruce Arnold lived across the street from me. He drove a Volkswagon Beetle with a Porche engine and transmission it was the fastest beetle around. I wore out all my old vinyl long ago and are so glad that the music was re released.

Biography

Formed: 1967 in Boston, MA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Boston's Orpheus made four albums in the late '60s and early '70s that were something of an antecedent to soft rock. Although some of the members had roots in the folk scene, and although they were lumped in with the heavier and more psychedelic bands that comprised the short-lived "Bosstown sound," Orpheus were in fact much closer to the "sunshine pop" of the late '60s heard on AM radio. Producer Alan Lorber (the key generator of the Bosstown sound hype, who also produced Ultimate Spinach and other...
Full Bio