In the mid- to late '90s, multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/producer Rick Corcoran -- who records under the name the Orgone Box -- kept himself busy recording his songs on a four-track recorder (he later upgraded to an eight-track home studio setup with a 32-channel mixing desk). The Baroque pop home recordings collected on Things That Happened Then actually predate the recordings Corcoran recorded for his self-titled Orgone Box album, which was released in March 2001 on the Minus Zero Records imprint. The earliest song featured here -- "Just Like a Woman" -- dates back to the late '80s. It was recorded at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire with Gus Dudgeon producing; this was circa 1995, just after Corcoran's band Orange (which was signed to Chrysalis and recorded its debut with Dudgeon) had just broken up. Most of the four-track entries date back to the early '90s, including "Everybody's a Star," "Last Ride on the Jets," and "Things That Happened Then." The backwards effects on the start of the title track, incidentally, were sounds left over from whatever was on the other side of the tape that Corcoran was using. The sound effects on "Last Ride," meanwhile, were taped directly from various radio programs and TV movies (that's actor Martin Sheen, from Apocalypse Now, narrating the middle-eight section). The Beatlesque "Hard for Me" was originally recorded on four-track, then later bumped up to eight-track; Corcoran also added an acoustic guitar, tambourine, harmony vocal, and a plastic mouth organ. "Mom I Can Fly," another Beatlesque track (think "Magical Mystery Tour"), was inspired by suicidal jumpers who often jumped off the old Kelvin high-rise flats in Sheffield, Corcoran's home town. The Byrds-ian "Bestbird" (recorded on four-track in 1994) is a "cynical metaphorical tale about the forming of Orange and small-town ambition," according to Corcoran himself. "Storytime" utilizes a miked jewelry box, while "Barbican" recounts an ill-fated day trip to Brighton to meet a musical acquaintance who was due to play the Barbican Theatre with Procol Harum, and a night in London with another friend who'd been living in New York for a while (everything on the track, apart from the guitars, was performed on a Casio keyboard using guitar pedal effects). Despite some of the more audible lo-fi recording differences between the Orgone Box album and this one, the writing/playing and performances are top-notch. This will surely appeal to fans of artists like Cloud Eleven, Jason Falkner, and Badly Drawn Boy.
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