Bay State native Robert Ellis Orrall first made waves on the local music scene by winning a songwriting contest sponsored by the Real Paper, a Boston alternative weekly. He quickly became a fixture on the local New Wave scene, in part because he seemed to have a knack for effortlessly penning dozens of cunning, quirky songs such as “Call the Uh-oh Squad,” “White Noise,” and “Too Many Bands.” He eventually signed a deal with RCA in 1980 and released three pop-rock discs. Though he scored a Top 30 hit with Carlene Carter in 1983, “I Couldn’t Say No,” he never received much label support, and in fact RCA ended up releasing one of his albums in badly edited “EP” form, omitting some of his best tunes in the process. Like many Boston musicians before and after him, Orrall began traveling to Nashville during the mid 80’s and eventually relocated there, where he is still enjoying a solid musical career and includes the likes of Al Gore among his buddies. He’s recorded his own solo discs as a country artist, penned #1 hits for others, and has had more than 125 of his tunes recorded by other musicians. His sons Jake and Jamin have taken up their father’s mantle, gaining buzz in the indie rock band JEFF the Brotherhood.
(by Dean Johnson and Stephen Haag)
Published on December 28, 2012