Orion Express, The

Band members               Related acts

- Jim Damiano -- lead guitar, vocals (-77)

- David Jolly -- drums (-77)

- Mick Martin -- vocals, harmonica, percussion (-77)

- Richard Russom -- keyboards, backing vocals (-77)

- Steve Schofer -- bass (-77)

- Robbie Smith -- guitar, backing vocals (-77)



- Mick Martin and the Blues Busters

- Smith, Martin and Shaw (Robbie Smith, Mick Martin)





Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Orion Express

Company: Round Mound of Sound

Catalog: 1001

Year: 1975

Country/State: Sacramento, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+


Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4729

Price: $100.00

Cost: $66.00


Its a simple fact that critics and people who rate music should have their work equipped with bullsh*t detectors.  Here's a perfect example of how the process is simply out of control.


The Orion Express were a mid-1970s Southern California based outfit.  The group evolved out of the short-lived Smith, Martin and Shaw.  Martin subsequently formed The Orion Express which became a popular attraction around their native Sacramento.  Their sole self-titled 1975 release appears to have been a self-financed project that was probably sold at their concerts and local record outlets.  Martin himself claims that they were the first unsigned West Coast band to put out their own album.  Whether true of not, I'm surmising that the album's price is a result of it being rather obscure rather than based on artistic merit.  Now if you listened to the prevailing hype you'd see nonsense like "Killer rural hard rock/psych rocker with acid guitar jamming!" or "Backwoods guitar rock with wailing leads."  The fact of the matter is that the only thing psychedelic here was the stuff people were ingesting when they listened to the album, or wrote such nonsense.  


So let's get down to the facts.  Co-produced by singer Mick Martin and Donald Wright, "The Orion Express" offers up a decent set of original material and covers.  While Jim Damiano turns in some nice guitar on tracks like 'Gotta Get the First Plane Home' and a cover of Steve Miller's 'Mercury Blues' there's absolutely nothing psychedelic to be found here. Instead the general feeling is of competent (and occasionally quite talented) bar band who have a penchant for bluesy material such as 'Down the Rail' and Bettye Crutcher's 'Hard Goin' Down'.  Martin has a decent voice and he injects more enthusiasm into the material than most similar acts.  The same is true for the rest of the band - they were probably a pretty good live act.  Still, don't be fooled by the marketing hype !!!  By the way, the band called it quits in 1977 when all of their equipment was destroyed in a bar fire. Martin went on to become a local music and film critic.  He also remained active in music heading Mick Martin and the Blues Busters and he continues to hosts a local weekend radio show The Blues Party.


"The Orion Express" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hey Mama  (Mick Martin) - 2:20

2.) Blackness of Your Thoughts   (Robbie Smith) - 4:19

3.) Don't Give Up On Me  (Mick Martin) - 4:50

4.) Gotta Get the First Plane Home   (Davies) - 1:56

5.) Mercury Blues   (Steve Miller - Douglas) - 2:14

6.) Hard Goin' Up   (Bettye Crutcher) - 5:56


(side 2)
1.) Down the Rail  (Mick Martin) - 2:18

2.) Time for Livin'    (Robbie Smith) - 2:54

3.) Another Bar Song (for Audrey)  (Mick Martin) - 3:00

4.) Your Mind Is On Vacation - 1:56

5.) Misty Daydreams - 3:46

6.) Sunshine Lady - 4:42

7.) Beef Patties - 1:57


I won't even begin to try to understand the logic for it, but in June 2005 the Radioactive label released this album on CD (Radioactive catalog number RRCD132.