More Orphan Than Not

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Caught in that netherworld after the Bosstown sound was forced upon everyone, and two years before the new wave would usher Willie Alexander, the Fools, the Rings, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, and other Boston groups to national attention, only a handful of bands kept Boston on the map. Along with Aerosmith, the Sidewinders, and the Modern Lovers was Orphan. Recorded at Intermedia Sound (a studio that would be purchased by the Cars and renamed Syncro Sound, and where Aerosmith tracked their first album), the album has the distinction of being taped where Jonathan Edwards created his 1971 Top Five hit "Sunshine." Edwards' presence on this album, playing acoustic guitar, harmonica, and providing backup vocals, makes it important historically. Sadly, there is only one original from Jonathan E. Edwards, the tune "Train of Glory." It is one of the highlights of the disc, along with a very Quicksilver Messenger Service-style rendition of Van Morrison's "I've Been Working," a truly unique "What Goes On" -- cover of the Beatles, not the Velvet Underground, although Orphan could have done as nice a job with the VU's composition as they did with this Lennon/McCartney/Starkey tune -- and a couple of really fine Eric Lilljequist songs, "Don't Go Fooling Me" and "Have Yourself a Good Time for Me." The group should've hit big time on the country charts with "Have Yourself a Good Time," its Byrds/Flying Burrito Brothers style evident. Perhaps it is the multidimensional focus which kept the band from the success that Edwards enjoyed with "Sunshine." Certainly ahead of their time, the Van Morrison cover bridges the gap from pop to rock to jam. Artists as diverse as Charlie Daniels and Phish have been able to ride the "jam/groove" wave, and Orphan would have fit in perfectly. Jonathan Edwards teamed up with Jon Hall of Orleans and Jon Pousette-Dart in 2000. They have released one song on Rounder, a cover of War's "Why Can't We Be Friends," which sounds like a very commercial extension of what was going on with Orphan 16 years prior. Seven of the 11 songs were written by Lilljequist, with "Overtime" the sole contribution by guitarist Dean Adrien. Any band that can boast the late Bobby Chouinard (of Duke & the Drivers, Billy Squier, and Alice Cooper fame) as their drummer deserves to be in the history books. The record was produced by Peter Casperson and Eric Lilljequist, Casperson being one of the men behind Castle Music, a management company that made some noise in the area. Orphan is a chillingly prophetic name for a band who delivered solid music but never achieved the recognition they deserved.

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