Release Date: Oct 30, 2015
Record label: Numero
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Punk/New Wave, Power Pop, Proto-Punk, New Wave, New York Punk, American Punk
Rock & roll would probably not survive if it weren't for the passion and enthusiasm of enlightened amateurs who stepped in where professionals would keep their distance. Terry Ork is an excellent case in point; Ork was an aspiring artist and filmmaker who moved to New York City in the late '60s hoping to become part of Andy Warhol's retinue. In the '70s, Ork worked at Cinemabilia, a Greenwich Village bookshop that specialized in film-related books and memorabilia, where he met two guys who were forming a band.
Founded in 1975 to release "Little Johnny Jewel", the debut single by Television, Ork Records had a brief but influential five-year run. The brainchild of West Coast weirdo Terry Ork and art school dropout Charles Ball, the label was blessed with a number of big firsts. Ork released not just the first Television single, but also the first music from poet and punk rock originator Richard Hell and the first singles by Memphis-based musician Alex Chilton following the dissolution of Big Star.
California-born Andy Warhol acolyte Terry Ork first came to prominence through managing seminal NYC proto-punks Television and releasing their legendary debut 45, Little Johnny Jewel, via his Ork imprint in 1975. Theoretically, Ork was thus well-placed to cash in on the burgeoning NYC punk scene. Yet, while he later teamed up with the more pragmatic Charles Ball, Ork himself was a maverick figure, his idealism and unquenchable thirst for music vastly outstripping his business acumen.
From 1975 to 1980, New York’s Ork Records released just 13 records. The most commercially successful of these sold just 6000 copies. And yet, during a spectacularly fertile period for NYC punk, Ork was involved in nearly every band that mattered — from Television (whose first-ever single “Little Johnny Jewel” came out on Ork in 1975), to Richard Hell and the Voidoids, to post-Big Star Alex Chilton, to the Feelies, to pre-dBs Chris Stamey.
V/A—Ork Records: New York, New York (Numero)Five years ago, Patti Smith was asked about the possibility of someone moving to New York City today and getting into the arts like she did. She answered, “New York has been taken away from you… Find another city.” There are plenty of ways to get some sense of the NYC she was talking about, not least her own writing, but if you want a one-stop opportunity to learn what it looked, sounded, and felt like, you can’t beat Ork Records: New York, New York. This two-CD or four-LP set spans the discography of a short-lived label named after its notoriously dilettantish proprietor, scene-maker Terry Ork.