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Zuider Zee


Band members               Related acts

- John Bonar -- bass, backing vocals (1970-76)

- Robert Hall -- drums, backing vocals (1974-76)

- Kim Foreman -- keyboards, backing vocals (1970-76)

- Richard Orange -- vocals, guitar (1970-76)


 

- Orange and the Eggmen

- Richard Orange

- Thomas Edison's Electric Light Bulb Band

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Zuider Zee

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-33816

Year: 1976

Country/State: Lafayette, Louisiana

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: cut top right corner;promo copy with timing strip on bottom (not shown in picture)

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4263

Price: $40.00

Cost: $1.00

 

During their existence, Zuider Zee (bassist John Bonar, drummer Robert Hall, keyboardist Kim Foreman and singer/guitarist Richard Orange) stood as one of Memphis' more talented (if lesser known) contributions to mid-'70s power-pop.  They're also one of those bands that deserved far greater recognition than they were given, which was little or known - though I remember them getting a pretty good review in a Rolling Stone article.

Foreman and Orange originally came together in Lafayette, Louisiana, cutting their first record as members of Thomas Edison's Electric Light Bulb Band.  By 1969 they'd picked up a mentor in the form of manager in Leland Russell, along with a new name.  Relocating to Memphis, the band started playing local schools and clubs, though most of their touring energies were spent in the Midwest.  A 1973 showcase for Elektra failed to score a contract, but within a year they'd recruited a new drummer (Robert Hall) and signed with Columbia.

LP back cover left to right 

John Bonar - Robert Hall - Kim Foreman - Richard Orange

 

The quartet's self-titled 1975 debut teamed them manager Russell in the production role.  With Orange responsible for the majority of the 11 tracks, material such as 'Listen To the Words', 'Thank You' and 'Magic Fingers' featured a truly engaging set of UK-flavored power-pop.  Imagine the best of Badfinger's Pete Ham, or perhaps 10 C.C.'s Eric Stewart doing their best Paul McCartney impressions and you'll get a feel for the musical landscape.  While "Zuider Zee" may not have been the year's most original album, the set had more than it's share of pleasures, including the Rickenbacher-propelled rocker 'Zeebra', 'You're Not Thinking' and the slightly ominous Haunter of Darkness''.  Normally a Paul McCartney comparison serves as a creative kiss of death, but Orange was among the few guys who could actually pull it off (Emitt Rhodes also readily coming to mind).  Orange had a great voice which was particularly appealing on songs like the rocker 'Rubber Men' when he employed his raspy edge (imagine McCartney's vocal on 'Helter Skelter').  Skeptical of that description?  Close your eyes and check out Orange's truly uncanny McCartney-like deliveries on the rockers 'She-Swing' and 'The Breaks' (the latter sounding like something from "Band On the Run").   Band ballads like 'The Last Song of Its Kind' were certainly pretty and had top-40 potential, but didn't do as much for me. Still, a package full of great melodies and excellent guitar made this a pleasure for anyone who enjoyed Badfinger or The Raspberries catalogs.  From a marketing perspective having spent a fortune recording the LP Columbia's promotional and marketing scheme was curious.  Credit Columbia's art department with coming up wit one of the year's most unimaginative covers.  Columbia decided not to tap the album for a single.   Tour support was lukewarm at best, the band opening for a staggering array of acts ranging from Caravan (???) to The Tubes.  Coupled with a pseudo-glam image that may have been a tad fey for many mid-1970s American audiences and in an era of punk aggression and disco madness the album vanished without a trace.

 

Columbia publicity photo left to right:  

John Bonar - Richard Orange - Robert Hall -- Kim Foreman 

       
"Zuider Zee" track listing:
(side 1).

1.) Listen To the Words   (Richard Orange) - 2:27
2.) Rubber Man   (Richard Orange - Robert Hall) - 2:50
3.) The Last Song of Its Kind   (Richard Orange) - 3:40
4.) Zeebra   (Richard Orange) - 5:10
5.) You're Not Thinking   (Richard Orange) - 3:05
6.) Haunter of Darkness   (Richard Orange) - 3:42

(side 2)

1.) She-Swing   (Richard Orange) - 2:33
2.) Thank You   (Richard Orange) - 3:21
3.) The Breaks   (Richard Orange) - 2:52
4.) Magic Fingers   (Richard Orange) - 4:35
5.) All That Is   (Richard Orange - Robert Hall - John Bonar - Kim Foreman) - 7:44


The final blow came in December 1976 when bassist Bonar interrupted a group of thieves trying to steal the band's van.  Beaten and stabbed, he was lucky to survive the attack.  The band effectively collapsed when the other members refused to continue touring with a replacement while Bonar underwent extensive physical therapy. 

 

Orange subsequently refocused his efforts on song writing.  In 1978 he wrote and produced a single for Mercury Records called 'Fold Out Girl'.  The following year he released a solo 45 'Supernatural' b/w 'Long Distance Love' (DJM catalog number DJS-10914).  Pressed on orange vinyl, the single never saw an American release.   

 

 

That was followed by the bands Richard Orange and Zee, which morphed into Zee.  Some thirty years later reappearing with Richard Orange and the Eggmen.

 

In the mid-1980s Orange relocated to England where he focused on writing; placing material with the likes of Cyndi Lauper who scored a pop hit with her cover of 'Hole In My Heart'.

 

I've never seen, nor heard it, but there's also a 1989 UK 45 'One Wrong Move' b/w 'So Full of Tears' (EMI catalog number YAP 1).  

 

 

Orange has an interesting if somewhat cluttered website at:

 

http://www.richardorange.com/



 

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