Exhibit A: The Torch Song rarities [part 1]

I have a great love for Torch Song, the trio formed by William Orbit, Laurie Mayer and Grant Gilbert back in the early 80s for I.R.S. Records. I first saw the video for “Don’t Look Now” on IRS’ The Cutting Edge show on MTV and wanted more of this group very strongly from that point on. It took the better part of a year until I found a promo copy of their debut LP, “Wish Thing,” in the used bins. That would have been 1985 or so. Getting their barely released second album “Ecstasy” took far, far longer. For starters, I only found out it existed in an early 90s edition of a Trouser Press Record Guide. Stores and mail order yielded nothing. Once I was on the internet, I kept a sharp eye out for this release but it took until just a few years ago until I could find a copy of this for less than $50.

I’ve always been a fan of Orbit’s work since day one, but once he worked with Madonna and raised his profile [and surely, his bank account as well] he went from cult musician to very popular cult musician!

I’ve already remastered the two Torch Song albums from vinyl, but if you know me, albums aren’t the half of it! I love Torch Song so much and they have such a modest output that it became imperative to also collect their rarities and single mixes. As of last Friday, the last elusive piece of my Torch Song collection was obtained [at a modest cost, of course]. So now I’m mentally plotting the inevitable BSOG®. Here’s what’s going in it.

I.R.S. | US | 1983 | SP 70412

“Prepare To Energize” is an instrumental that was remixed from “Wish Thing.” The B-side is the 8 track demo version [very hot] called “The Fong Test,” presumably after Lincoln Fong who worked with Orbit in this Guerilla Studios.

I.R.S. | UK | 1984 | IRSX 110

“Don’t Look Now” appears here in a 6:15 mix, making it slightly shorter than the 6:23 album version. The B-side is “P2E (remix)” at 5:10, different to other lengths of “Prepare To Energize.”

Torchforce | UK | 1984| no cat. #

“Hark” is a super rare flexi-disc issued by the band for their fan club as a Christmas Card in 1984. It’s not quite “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and thankfully, I.R.S. in their wisdom, issued it on a Christmas compilation CD at infinitely less than silver-sleeved copies of the flexidisc change hands for.

…Wait! At this point when I finally have the exceptionally rare and [normally] prohibitively expensive Laurie Mayer single en route to my collection, I’m now painfully aware that I should probably make the effort to obtain the two early William Orbit solo singles from his debut solo album; covers of “Love My Way” and “Feel Like Jumping.” These last two [I swear it!] will definitely close the book on my Torch Song collection, thus allowing me to continue with this posting, but for me to continue blathering here seems premature, now. My deepest apologies, but the rest of this post will be left hanging indefinitely.  Fortunately, those two 12″ singles are both much more prevalent and affordable compared to much of the Torch Song canon, to say nothing of the sole Laurie Mayer single.

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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10 Responses to Exhibit A: The Torch Song rarities [part 1]

  1. Brian Ware says:

    Well, this fan is cheering you on and will certainly appreciate the final results!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Brian – Aaaaah, Torch Song. How wonderful it is to have the albums finally. Get ready for round two, though I can’t say when, exactly. I’m going back to Associates for a spell with my next quickie probably being The Passions “Michael & Miranda.” “Exhibit A” will be more than a quickie, so it may wait until after The Associates BSOG® is finished.

      Like

  2. 3ReV (@3REV) says:

    So did you ever finally close the Book on Torch song? I’ have been a Fan since — Oh I don’t know Forever. But I didn’t Know Ecstasy- I have US wish thing LP.and Cassette Copy of Exhibit A ( I cribbed from my friends LP) I just found out the UK Version has different versions. Now Reading your blog I see that there is ALL kinds of stuff I’m missing.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      3ReV – Welcome to the comments! With Torch Song, I suspect that each release has unique mixes, so I should ideally own every variation.the promos and 7″ mixes might be different. I did not know about the mix differences between the US and UK albums. Was that for “Wish Thing” as well as “Exhibit A,” or only the latter? It’s tough being a Torch Song fan. Especially since Orbit [stupidly] dislikes this amazing body of work.

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  3. zeruch says:

    The only Torch Song I have is the 12″ for “Son’t Look Now” and I end up periodically grabbing it more for the B-sides, (especially ‘Mothdoom Ecstacy’)

    Really underrated outfit

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      zeruch – Welcome to the comments! Torch Song fans need to stick together! So you have the US reissue 12” of “Don’t Look Now.” I also grabbed it for “Mothdoom Ecstacy.” Since that B-side was originally on the “Ode To Billy Joe” UK 12” that took me decades to buy. But that single you have contains my all time favorite Torch Sing cut, the extended “Can’t Find My Way Home.”

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  4. Daniel says:

    being a new torch song fan myself (and wishing i was alive in the 80s to see it in full force) im now on the hunt for all these extra versions, and while i do admittedly love the hunt, it’s quite crazy to see how many different versions of all these songs they have! And no doubt frustrated by the lack of a re release..

    but man oh man this music sounds like it was sent from outer space! in the mid early 80s too, no one was on his level.. thanks for your words and appreciation, it’s always a pleasure to find other fans out there, nonetheless ones who are documenting their love for those of us newcomers to the music..

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Daniel – Welcome to the comments! There’s always room for more Torch Song cultists here @ PPM! I was transfixed by the “Don’t Look Now” video that aired once on MTV on the IRS Records “Cutting Edge” show and it took a year to finally find a copy of the album for sale. It was scarce in the bins. Then when I played it and heard “Telepathy” on my fine AKG headphones I was hooked! That actually sounded like music being beamed into my skull directly!n I can’t imagine what telepathic music might sound like but that record hit the target full on. I need to make a set of rarities, but until I have every release [I suspect that Orbit tweaked EVERY mix to leave the studio on every format] it’s a chase I might not ever finish. I should just work with what I have now.

      Like

  5. Mark Randall says:

    DON’T CLOSE THE TORCH SONG BOOK JUST YET!…..

    As a huge Torch Song fan, I love your detailed analysis and enthusiasm for the music! Many years ago I ran the (unofficial) Torch Song Online, which had the blessing of William Orbit, Laurie Mayer and Rico Conning. I was obsessive about researching and collecting anything and everything from that era of their music (1983-1987).

    If you are still hungry for more of that TS sound, here are some tracks you should definitely seek out.

    Crown of Thorns- “Pictures”- 1983
    There are several different versions this track, but the one you will be interested in is the one produced by Torch Song

    Kate Garner- “Love Me Like a Rocket”- 1984- 7/12″
    Produced by Torch Song and Paul Caplin

    The Partnership- “Sampling the Blast Furnace”- 1983/84 (unreleased)
    Produced by William Orbit

    Sting- “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” (Torch Song mix)- 1985
    Produced by William Orbit. Mixed by Rico Conning
    *Before deciding to go the jazz route with his first solo effort, Sting toyed with the idea of giving his songs to a band who would perform and produce the music. This was the only fully realized track. *An interesting bit of trivia I received from Lincoln Fong himself- Lincoln accompanied William to Sting’s home to record the vocals for this mix.

    Etienne Daho- ‘Pop Satori’- 1986
    Etienne wanted Torch Song to produce the entire album. Unfortunately, the band was in the midst of turmoil and the production shifted to Arnold Turboust and Rico Conning. William and Laurie still perform on several of the tracks.

    I know there are other tracks I’m forgetting, but I’m doing this from memory and don’t have access to my TS archives at the moment.

    Regards,
    Mark

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mark Randall – Thanks for weighing in. Some of these were new to me. I had gone through Orbit’s production credits on Discogs and have tagged many of these for the want list. I have owned the incredible “Pop Satori” since release! That album was my entrée into Etienne Daho fandom and I bought it before knowing of the Torch Song involvement. The Kate Garner 12” is on my want list. Knew about the Sting thing but am reticent due to non-fandom.

      Like

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