The Orchestra Luna album began the musical legacy of Rick Berlin, the composer/singer who goes by his birth name, Richard Kinscherf, on this Epic Records debut in 1974. The seven-piece ensemble was truly groundbreaking in a world that doesn't take kindly to innovation. Where the Who were content to write rock operas, Kinscherf and his band put opera to rock. This adventurous mix of songs, written as if they were Broadway show tunes backed by a rock band with jazz and classical influences, might sound like a bit much, and 11 minutes and 53 seconds of "Doris Dreams" never had a chance of Top 40 success, or an edit that could get it there, but that idiosyncrasy is part of what makes this album so daring, and special. Co-produced by Rupert Holmes, the man who gave us "Escape (The Pina Colada Song," a monster smash in 1979, and the cannibal anthem "Timothy" in 1971, the choice might not seem appropriate on the surface. But Holmes' unheralded work for Barbara Streisand and the Broadway musical Drood actually makes him a perfect choice to oversee this project. "Miss Pamela" has wonderful Randy Roos guitars blending with Rick Kinscherf's pretty keyboards, keyboards that could have inspired Billy Joel, sounding very much like his 1978 hit "Just The Way You Are." It's when Kinscherf's expressive vocal kicks in that all comparisons to traditional pop go out the window. The cover of the Adler/Ross classic (you gotta have) "Heart" is a standout here, as it was in their live show. Seven of the nine tracks are penned by Rick Kinscherf, and themes that resound in "Fay Wray" (the heroine from the epic King Kong) travel throughout the artist's career. This album may be tough for some to take, but the Tom Werman liner notes put things in a nice perspective. They opened for Roxy Music in Boston when this album was released, and were even more avant-garde than the legendary headliner. The band dropped the "Orchestra" from their name and became the original Luna, releasing a 45, "Hollywood," while the rest of their album was held up in litigation. They re-emerged as Berlin Airlift, then Rick Berlin: The Movie. In 2001, the former Rick Kinscherf, known as Rick Berlin, fronted the Shelley Winters Project. That sound has little in common with the early pictures painted by the exquisite "Love Is Not Enough" or musically bizarre "Boy Scouts" off this album ("Back in the boy scout camp/the moon was very full"). These themes, like the references and inspiration from films, continued to flavor Berlin's music through the years, although the Peter Barrett narrations would fall away. Moody and impressive in its gamble, this is also noteworthy in that guitarist extraordinaire Randy Roos can be heard in his formative years.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione