'Ork Records: New York, New York' Box Set Reflects on Big Apple Punk Label's Storied (and Shady) Past: Album Review

Various Artists
Album Review
3.5

The best bands that played CBGB in the mid-1970s -- the ones with ­pizzazz, songs, looks and ­ambition -- were ­corralled by major labels. Now that New York's Bowery is no longer a ­moonlit sewer, a few of those groups have been celebrated with career-spanning box sets. But they were the 1 percent; the ­others got Terry Ork, a gregarious bookstore manager who founded an eponymous label in 1975 to release Television's first single. He soon had two investors but was an ­unreliable ­entrepreneur more ­interested in ­"abusing heroin and ­having sex with young men," according to the liner notes in new box set Ork Records: New York, New York. The 49 songs include ­historic singles from Television and Richard Hell, ­influential alt-rock (­unreleased Feelies, a mess of Alex Chilton) and lots of British-accented power pop, the best by The Revelons and The Student Teachers, who deserve to be remembered. Ork was a ­scoundrel and eventually a jailbird, but no one chronicled the undercard at CBGB ­better.

This story originally appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of Billboard.