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Ork Records: New York New York



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Rock & roll would probably not survive if it weren't for the passion and enthusiasm of enlightened amateurs who stepped in where professionals would keep their distance. Terry Ork is an excellent case in point; Ork was an aspiring artist and filmmaker who moved to New York City in the late '60s hoping to become part of Andy Warhol's retinue. In the '70s, Ork worked at Cinemabilia, a Greenwich Village bookshop that specialized in film-related books and memorabilia, where he met two guys who were forming a band. Those guys were Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell, and the band was Television; Ork loved their music enough that be became their first manager, and in 1975 he teamed with Charles Ball to form Ork Records, whose first release was Television's debut single, "Little Johnny Jewel." Ork and his cohorts had more ideas and ambition than money, but the label struggled along until 1980, and by being in the right place at the right time, Ork ended up recording some seminal performances by acts on the CBGB and Max's Kansas City scene like Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Alex Chilton, the dB's, Cheetah Chrome, the Erasers, and the Student Teachers. Respected reissue label the Numero Group acquired the Ork Records archives after the death of Charles Ball in 2012 (Ork succumbed to colon cancer in 2004), and Ork Records: New York, New York features 49 songs either released by Ork or recorded for projected releases that the label lacked the funds to press. Ork Records has been described as America's first punk label, though one should keep in mind that many of Ork's acts were punk in the way Television, Talking Heads, and Blondie were considered punk in 1976; a lot of this material plays more like new wave (the Revelons, the Erasers) or power pop (Prix, the Marbles) from a distance of a few decades. But Ork and Ball clearly had excellent taste and a good sense of what would work in the studio, and these rare tracks by the Feelies, Richard Hell, Alex Chilton, Kenneth Higney, the Student Teachers, and Richard Lloyd are fun, exciting, and a splendid reflection of the "anything goes" spirit of the early New York punk scene before stylistic codification set it. (And Ork or Ball must have been fascinated by the notion of rock critics singing, with Lester Bangs, Mick Farren, and Lenny Kaye all represented here, the latter under the stage name Link Cromwell.) Ork Records: New York, New York is a superb evocation of a vitally important time and place in American rock & roll, and it's fun, eclectic listening to boot. ~ Mark Deming

  • Genre: Pop
  • Format: Vinyl
  • RSD Release Date: n/a
  • Released: 10/30/2015


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