Sunday, October 20, 2019

"Stay the Night" by Benjamin Orr

Song#:  2927
Date:  11/08/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  24
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Although Orr was mainly the bassist in The Cars, he also wrote some of the band's songs and took a turn at lead vocals on occasion. He wrote and sang what would be the band's biggest hit, the #3 "Drive" (1984). When the band took a break after the release of their Greatest Hits album, Orr decided to be the fourth member of the band to do a solo project. He and his girlfriend Diane Grey Page would co-write and co-produce all the tracks on Orr's debut LP The Lace. This first single was issued out and it did well at Rock getting to #6. It couldn't do quite that well at Pop and it ended up peaking outside the Top 20. However, it was a surprising success at AC where it reached #2. A follow-up single, "Too Hot to Stop," got to #25 at Rock, but failed to chart elsewhere. The album sold a few copies and made it to #86. It would end up being Orr's only solo recording. He would continue with The Cars and do other projects over the years. Unfortunately, Orr died of cancer in 2000.

ReduxReview:  Unlike Ric Ocasek's solo work which didn't stray to far from The Cars' sound, Orr ignores much of the band's chugging new wave and goes for modern pop/rock with an 80s production sheen. No one would mistake this track or others on the album as Cars tracks and that's a good thing. Orr was staking out his own territory and it worked pretty well. This mid-tempo tune was a good choice for a single. It kind of has a Foreigner-lite feel and it fits Orr's voice well. The chorus was memorable and I thought it would crack the Top 10. Oddly, despite large support at Rock and AC, the tune fizzled in the Top 30. It should have done better, but at least Orr showed that Ocasek wasn't the only one who could survive on their own outside of The Cars.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Orr's given last name is Orzechowski. When he was growing up, friends and classmates would call him "Benny 11 Letters."  2) Orr's first band was the Cleveland, Ohio, area group the Grasshoppers. They became the house band for a local variety TV show called The Big 5 Show, which began in 1964. They stayed around for 13 episodes of the weekly program, but eventually broke up in 1966. As the story goes, it was after their last appearance on The Big 5 (later titled Upbeat when it went into syndication) that a local musician by the name of Ric Ocasek called up Orr after seeing the show. The two got together and wrote some songs. It took them a while to figure things out (various cites, various band), but by 1976 they were in Boston and had come together with three other musicians to form The Cars.


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