Acetate Demo LP of the
Original Orchestra Luna Album
This was a lucky find! I got this original acetate demo from Last Vestige Music Shop in NY. For those of you not familiar with acetate discs, they were (and still are) produced by directly cutting an acetate LP blank with a cutting lathe. They are produced in small numbers, usually for the purposes of distributing demonstration copies of an album or just a few recorded tracks. Commercial LPs are actually pressed from vinyl using metal stamps. Acetate is much softer than vinyl, which makes it possible to cut the tracks with the motorized lathe, and acetate LPs can only be played a limited number of times (perhaps as few as 20 times) before they are (literally) worn out. They are also significantly thicker and heavier than commercial LPs.
This LP answers some questions and confirms some statements made elsewhere on the site. (See my OL FAQ page for more about this.)
Most importantly, it provides the original track sequence that Epic Records intended to release. As of early October, 1974, this was as follows:
In 1974, Bruce Lundvall, President of the Epic Records Division of CBS Records (and later, President of the Domestic Division of CBS Records), came to hear Orchestra Luna play live. He was so impressed with their original song "Doris Dreams" and their cover of "Heart" that he directed that these songs be added to the album. Due to the length of these two tracks, three tracks ("Fishbowl", "Chicken", and "Sky Is Red") had to be dropped.
This demo LP also helps to confirm that the LP was not actually released in Fall, 1974, as Epic originally planned. The group recorded in the studio in July and August of 1974, and this acetate is the version of the album as of October 8, 1974. When Lundvall directed that the tracks be changed, new master tapes had to be produced. The final version of the album was not released commercially until early 1975. In fact, as I have noted elsewhere on the site, the album covers of both pre-release demo versions and the commercial release have a copyright date of 1974, while the copyright date on the album labels is 1975. To the best of my recollection, the album was not available locally in Boston until February or March of 1975. (The original copyright dates on the Japanese CD are 1974, while the date on the Market Square reissue CD is 1975. I believe that Market Square has it right, even though the liner notes state that the album was released in the US in August of 1974, which is clearly incorrect.)
As you can see, the acetate was cut at Sterling Sound, Inc., in New York, NY. Jeffrey Lesser is listed as the producer, while the final album credits both Lesser and Rupert Holmes as producers.
So, how does it sound? Actually, it sounds great. I've only played it once (see the comments above about the expected life of an acetate) in order to capture the audio to digital format. There is a fair amount of surface noise on some tracks, which I was able to reduce significantly with some digital processing, but it tracks great and the dynamic range is excellent. I found that "Fay Wray" has some mechanical noise (once per revolution) in it, which may be due to the cutting lathe itself. (Vinyl records will sometimes exhibit this noise if there is a warp in the record or if it cools unevenly after pressing. Acetates do not warp as easily as vinyl LPs and are not heated and pressed as are vinyl LPs during commercial production. However, the cutting head is driven by a motor along a guide rod tangential to the blank disc and this process sometimes introduces mechanical noise as the head is advanced.) Fortunately, this is one of the tracks that is available with pristine sound on the final versions of the album.
I have to admit, however, that Lundvall made the right call in changing the album track list. "Heart" has become a favorite of local Boston sports fans (it was also released as a 45 single) and "Doris Dreams" is one of my favorite tracks. "Fishbowl", "Chicken", and "Sky Is Red" are weaker tracks and omitting them was a good decision. At some point in the future, I may post short audio sample files from these songs so you can get an idea of what they are like.
If you want to correspond with me about Orchestra Luna, I'd be happy to give you my poor opinions. Just send mail tome. I would be particularly interested in your comments on the artists.
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