The Birth and Re-birth of Orleans
If you have an interest in the history and origins of things Orleans, you have just hit the Motherlode! These recently rediscovered recordings represent the very beginnings of several of Orleans‘ career milestones. Captured originally on reel-to-reel tape, they were well past their sonic prime but have been lovingly restored to as-good-as-possible condition and digitized for permanent safekeeping. We trust you will enjoy turning back the clock with us … to see and hear where it all began.
Dancing in the Moonlight – Boffalongo, 1969
This cut is LIVE Boffalongo … the Ithaca, NY-based pre-Orleans band which included Larry, Wells, Bob Leinbach and the song’s writer, Sherman Kelly (keys & lead vocal), who is also Wells’ brother. At the time, the song was virtually brand new and getting played at least twice at every “Boff” gig due to chronic requests 😉 We all knew it would be a hit by SOMEBODY some day!
A couple of years later, Sherman and some other Ithaca friends formed King Harvest, who recorded the 1973 Top 40 hit version while living in France.
Meanwhile, Orleans also included Dancin’ in the Moonlight in its live gigs from the very beginning, although we waited until 2005 to record our own version!
Half Moon – Orleans Trio demo, 1972
For the first 9 months that Orleans existed, we were a trio. Somewhere around April or May of 1972, we … John, Wells and Larry … went to NY City to use John’s publishers’ TEAC 4-track to make a first demo, so we could solicit gigs and a record deal.
This was the Orleans trio’s version of the song that turbocharged John’s songwriting career. John’s very first collaboration with his then-girlfriend, Johanna, requested by the artist herself, Janis Joplin cut it for her Pearl LP and it became the “B-side” of Me and Bobby McGee.
A song of our own that many already knew, Half Moon not only set Orleans apart but was also an excellent vehicle for our instrumental skills. Our arrangement would go through many permutations over the years as Orleans changed and grew, but this is where it all started for this Woodstock, NY-based band.
The Breakdown – Orleans Trio demo, 1972
Here, drummer Wells Kelly also plays the organ and bassist Larry also adds his trumpet. Later, the Orleans quartet (with Lance added) would re-cut this tune for our second album (sometimes called Dance With Me, other times Orleans 2).
Rehearsing with new member, Lance, in John’s basement – late 1972
<— The as yet unrecorded Orleans trio on the steps of Larry’s rented Baker Road cabin in Bearsville (just next door to Woodstock, NY).
Love Takes Time – Larry’s original 4-track publishing demo, 1978
Needing a hit song to move forward upon John Hall’s post-Still the One departure, Larry and then-wife Marilyn Mason came up with this. Using Larry’s 4-track TEAC down the road at Bob Leinbach’s house, they set up Eric Parker on drums as Larry cut the piano on Bob’s antique Steinway. Larry took the deck back to his house, overdubbed bass and guitars, then got with Lance and Bob for the backing vocals.
This demo got Orleans its deal with Infinity Records (MCA) … but not before Columbia (Epic) heard it first and was VERY eager to sign the band. In a “Spy vs. Spy” move worthy of “Hit Men”, the tape was lifted by the guys who were ‘defecting’ to start Infinity … who then offered a deal nobody else could compete with!
Recorded in 1978, Love Takes Time was a hit single from the Infinity 1979 Forever album. The reinvented Orleans was now Larry, Lance, Bob, Wells and R.A. Martin. Mission accomplished.