Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: “Dance With Me” by Orleans
Orleans' record label didn't hear any hit potential...but, "Dance With Me" would prove the label wrong...and become Orleans' first major chart hit!
With a name like "Orleans," you’d think that the band was from New Orleans, right?
"Orleans" was formed near Woodstock, New York, in 1972.
The name is derived from the type of music the band was originally playing: “R & B seasoned with cajun” music, inspired by Louisiana musicians (like the Neville Brothers).
"Orleans" started out as singer/guitarist/songwriter John Hall, along with singer/guitarist/keyboardist Larry Hoppen, and drummer/percussionist Wells Kelly.
As a side note, Kelly was a founding member of the band "King Harvest," of "Dancing In The Moonlight" fame!
In late 1972, the group expanded to include Larry’s younger brother, Lance, on bass.
Successful New York City club dates, plus touring the Northeast US with up-and-coming bands like "Hall & Oates," brought the guys a record deal.
ABC-Dunhill released the first "Orleans" album in 1973.
Feeling that there were no hits on 1974's "Orleans II," ABC-Dunhill limited-released the album around the world...but refused to release it here in New Jersey!
That left "Orleans" looking for a new record label with some faith...and it also brings us to our spotlight song, "Dance With Me," a soft-sounding, let's dance before the night ends, song.
Further, the singer doesn't want to dance with just any girl...but with the special someone for which he has...romantic designs.
Like most of "Orleans'" songs, "Dance With Me" was written by John Hall, and his wife Johanna (who divorced in 2000).
Hall says the song came out of a solo jam session in the living room!
"The whole song...the verses, the bridge, the ending...was all complete, coming out of my acoustic guitar."
From the other room, Johanna yells out: "That sounds like 'Dance With Me.'"
John Hall responds: "Can't we come up with something a little bit more unusual than that?"
"I don't know, it really sounds like Dance With Me," she counters.
Hall says that he hit a music-writer's-block at that point, and Johanna couldn't get past the "Dance With Me" thing...so, he played the instrumental for band mate Larry Hoppen, who said: "You really need to finish that, that sounds like a hit."
A few months later, Hall says they were driving home from a show in Ithaca (NY), when Johanna yells out: "Pick the beat up, and kick your feet up!" She starts scribbling more lyric ideas on the back of an envelope, "and by the time we got home, we had kicked the ideas back and forth, and finished the lyric."
"Orleans" used some interesting instruments in their songs...including a melodica (a key harmonica) and a hooter (looks like a small keyboard with a mouthpiece), in "Dance With Me."
This hit-to-be was included on the ill-fated "Orleans II" album (1974).
As I mentioned earlier, ABC-Dunhill didn't think the album had any hits...so, they withheld U.S. distribution!
Orleans signed with Elektra-Asylum records, and included a re-recorded "Dance With Me" on their 1975 album "Let There Be Music."
And, there was...music!
"Dance With Me" sashayed all the way to #6, in 1975!
"No hits?" Really?!
"Orleans" had the last laugh...and John Hall says it felt real good: "Everybody at ABC who said it wasn't a hit got to eat their words, and I was happy about it all."
What happened after "Dance With Me"?
Other "Orleans" hits would follow: "Still The One" (#5/1976) and "Love Takes Time (#11/1979).
Sadly, the 1980's weren't kind to the band...
They did not return to the charts, but did return to playing club dates.
Wells Kelly would die, after a night of hard partying, in 1984.
Members would come and go, right into the 90's. "Orleans" would take a break in 1997, re-uniting in 2001!
Then, John Hall turned from music to politics...serving 2 terms in Congress (2007-2010), before returning to his roots...
Sadly, Larry Hoppen died in 2012....but the music continues!
What are the guys up to now? Click here for their official site!
And, don't forget to..."Dance With Me"
"Pick the beat up, and kick your feet up!" with New Jersey 101.5 and here at nj1015.com!