The Studio One Project: Elf

The Fourth Album From Studio One

After way too many months away from this series, I'm happy to post my review of the fourth album produced at Studio One in Doraville GA. The album is the first album from the band "Elf" featuring Ronald Padavona. Who's that, you ask? Read on to find out..... This is the fourth review in my ongoing series that I call “Studio One Project: Great Music From Doraville” where I acquire and review a copy of every album that was recorded at Studio One in Doraville Georgia. Why would I do that you may be asking? Good question…..to find out the reason please check out the original post in the series (which has the table of albums recorded at Studio One along with links to my review of each album).

As always, before we dive into the review I must first issue this disclaimer:

“Warning, I am not a trained music reviewer! I’m just a guy who likes music. Anything that is said in any of my reviews is purely my own interpretation/opinion and should not be relied upon as an endorsement of the quality of any particular piece of music or compilation thereof.” How's that for Lawyerspeak? :-)

OK, now that we got that out of the way…onto the review!

Review #4 Elf

The fourth album produced or recorded at Studio One was the debut, self titled, release from Elf and featured a couple of iconic collaborators that helped define rock music. Many of you may have never heard of Elf but I bet many of you probably have heard of it's lead singer's later name, Ronnie James Dio.

Here’s a summary of the LP version of the album (courtesy of Discogs). You'll notice in the credits that there are a couple of members of one of the best bands of all time, Deep Purple, acting in the role of Producer-Ian Paice and Roger Glover:

Elf (3) ‎– Elf

Label:
Epic ‎– KE 31789
Format:
Vinyl, LP, Album
Country:
Released:
Genre:
Style:

TRACKLIST

A1 Hoochie Koochie Lady 5:32
A2 First Avenue 4:22
A3 Never More 3:50
A4 I'm Coming Back For You 3:27
B1 Sit Down Honey (Everything Will Be Alright) 3:48
B2 Dixie Lee Junction 5:08
B3 Love Me Like A Woman 3:46
B4 Gambler, Gambler 4:28

Credits

The Purchase

Much like the last album review in this series finding a copy of the album in good shape took a little bit of time. As I'm quickly finding out when trying to find quality copies of these older/rarer albums, there oftentimes aren't a lot of copies of the albums for sale at any one time, especially in good condition. After a little searching I found a good candidate on Discogs, a VG+ copy from a highly rated seller. The cover was listed as G+. The problem was the price, which was very high ($45.00). If I bought this copy it would be the single most expensive album purchase to date!

Damn, this "vintage vinyl" phase I'm going through sure is getting expensive. I guess it's cheaper than a little red sports car though.  :-) After some waffling back and forth along with double-checking the budget I plunked down my cash and waited for the vinyl to show up.

The Vinyl

After a 10 day wait the album arrived. As advertised, the vinyl was in very good shape but it did need a good cleaning, actually two good cleanings. I gave it my usual cleaning using my custom solution of distilled water, a drop of Palmolive pure dish soap and a lab-grade surfactant (Triton X-114) and tossed it on the turntable and noticed a fair amount of pops and clicks. I put the vinyl back on my cleaning machine (self made for <$50) and gave a good, vigorous 2nd cleaning. That did the job. The sound quality was much improved. It shows that even a good looking/glossy piece of vinyl can still need a good cleaning. The album is nearly 45 years old at this point and who knows what the "provenance" of this album was. All I know was that 2nd cleaning brought up a lot of dirt...

The Packaging

The album is a basic single vinyl LP in a standard cardboard sleeve. The cover is in OK condition (at best) but acceptable, especially since the vinyl was in good shape. It's obvious that this album has seen a lot of "shelf wear. The image on the front cover looks very Elf-like, though it does have a bit of an "evilness" to it. Here’s the front cover:

front cover of elf featuring ronnie james dio

And here’s the back cover. As you can see it's in a little better shape than the front. The image is a typical shot of the band but there's that little naked elf-like thing running off the right edge, which is a little strange. The photos were taken by Ronald Padavona/Ronnie James Dio:

back cover of elf album

The First Listen

I grabbed a tasty beer, warmed up the Lounge LCRMKIII preamp (a great preamp, watch for a review at some point) and Pro-ject Debut turntable, put the newly cleaned vinyl on the cork pad, lowered the arm and sat down for a listen....

SIDE 1

The first side started with “Hoochie Koochie Lady” which is a fairly straight-forward 12-bar blues/honky tonk song. Not a bad opening number.

The second track, "First Avenue"is in the same vein as track one with Mickey Lee Soule once again providing a strong honky tonk piano backbone.

The third track is "Never More" and it's on a bit of a different track than the first two, taking a slight turn at the "heavy metal" intersection and doesn't look back. I felt a bit like I was listening to a Deep Purple or Black Sabbath song, which isn't surprising given that Paice and Glover are producers. The vocals by Ronald/Ronnie James are strong and solid along with some nice piano by Mickey Lee Soule. It's probably the most interesting track of the entire album.

"I'm Coming Back For You" is track #4 on the first side and it's more of a straight up gritty rock song with over-driven guitars in the front and piano backing it up.

SIDE 2

Side two starts off with "Sit Down Honey (Everything Will Be Alright)". To me, this is another honky tonk number mixed with some distinctive rock guitar riffs. It's a nice way to kick off side two.

"Dixie Lee Junction" is the second track and it starts off as a rock ballad but switches to more blues-focused with Ronnie longing to be away from the city and back in Tennessee. There's a nice distorted guitar solo from David Feinstein to keep things moving along.

"Love Me Like A Woman" is the 3rd track on side 2 and is more honky tonk influenced rock. Dio does a good job with the vocals but there's not too much special about the song overall.

The album ends with "Gambler, Gambler" and it closes out the album on a strong rock note. Like "I'm Coming Back For You" on side one, this track is edgier and more what you would associate with Dio based on his work in later groups like Rainbow and Sabbath.

Second Listen and Thoughts

Listening to music is something that can happen in just about any state of mind but I find that to really get into the songs I need to give things at least two concentrated and distraction free listening sessions. So, as I've done with every album in this series, I waited a while (3 months) to take another listen to Elf. The second time around the goal is to get a deeper view of what the whole album is about rather than concentrating on each track.  I re-cued my "$45 piece of spinning plastic" on my Pro Ject Debut Carbon Turntable and sat down for another listen...

As I listened to Elf again, in it's entirety, I got a better feel/opinion for what this album is and represents in the career of it's most famous member (Ronald Padavona/Ronnie James Dio). It seems to me that Elf was a transitional project for Dio in the sense that it got him in the studio with two key people (Ian Paice and Roger Glover) who recognized his talents and allowed him to move to the "next level" in his career. The album's tracks reflect that with the majority of them from Dio's past (the honky tonk style songs) while a few show what the future would be like. The album itself is pretty basic but knowing where Dio ended up going it is interesting in that context.

The bottom line on Elf is that it's an interesting album in a historical context as it relates to the career of Ronnie James Dio. It is neat to say I have it in my collection, but only because of the fact that I'm deeply interested in collecting original albums produced at a long defunct studio here in Atlanta. For everyone else who's interested in it, I'd recommend finding a CD version or just listening to it on some streaming service (like Tidal) as part of your monthly subscription fee.

Up Next....

Assuming my schedule allows it I hope to have the next review in this series posted within the next few weeks. The album is "Get Right" by Mose Jones. Keep your fingers crossed.........

Help Support This Project

OK, here’s where I shamelessly ask for money :-) Seriously, buying vintage vinyl (heck this one album cost me $45) and hosting this site doesn’t come without a cost so any help you can provide toward that effort is greatly appreciated! If you like what you read and want to help out just click on one of the links below. You can get some music for yourself, or anything else that Amazon sells, by Clicking on one of the links.

The Music Page on Amazon

Buy Yourself a Turntable!

Buy Anything-Please!!!

The Studio One Project: Atlanta Rhythm Section

The Third Album From Studio One

Welcome to my review of the third album produced at Studio One, The Atlanta Rhythm Section's self-titled debut release. This is the third review in my ongoing series that I call “Studio One Project: Great Music From Doraville” where I acquire and review a copy of every album that was recorded at Studio One in Doraville Georgia. Why would I do that you may be asking? Good question…..to find out the reason please check out the original post in the series (which has the table of albums recorded at Studio One along with links to my review of each album).

Before we dive into the review I must first issue a disclaimer:

“Warning, I am not a trained music reviewer! I’m just a guy who likes music. Anything that is said in any of my reviews is purely my own interpretation/opinion and should not be relied upon as an endorsement of the quality of any particular piece of music or compilation thereof.” How's that for Lawyerspeak? :-)

OK, now that we got that out of the way…onto the review!

Review #3 Atlanta Rhythm Section

The third album produced or recorded at Studio One was The Atlanta Rhythm Section's self-titled debut release. The Atlanta Rhythm Section "ARS" was formed from a group of session musicians for newly opened Studio One in Doraville Georgia. The band was made up of Dean Daughtry (keyboards), Rodney Justo (vocals), Barry Bailey (lead guitar), J.R. Cobb (rhythm guitar), Robert Nix (drums/percussion), and Paul Goddard (bass). There were some changes to the band over the years (which I'll highlight as I review their other albums) but they remained true to their Doraville/Atlanta roots.

ARS at Doraville Sign

Here are a few sites with additional info on the band:

The ARS Wikipedia Page

The ARS official site

Members of ARS over the years

ARS Discography

Buddy Buie (producer and songwriter) Wikipedia Page

 

 

 

Here’s a summary of the LP version of the album (courtesy of Discogs) This album doesn't have a lot of detail, maybe because it was the first album from the band:

Atlanta Rhythm Section ‎– Atlanta Rhythm Section

Label:
Decca ‎– DL 75265
Format:
Vinyl, LP, Album
Country:
Released:
Genre:

Tracklist

A1 Love Me Just A Little (Sometime)
A2 Baby No Lie
A3 All In Your Mind
A4 Earnestine
A5 Forty Days And Forty Nights
B1 Another Man's Woman (It's So Hard)
B2 Days Of Our Lives
B3 Yours And Mine
B4 Can't Stand It No More
B5 One More Problem

The Purchase

Acquiring this album was a bit of an adventure. There aren't a lot of copies of this album for sale at any one time but after a little searching/waiting I thought I found the perfect candidate on Discogs, a NM copy from a highly rated seller for an OK to slightly high price ($15.00). I plunked down my cash and waited for the vinyl to show up. When it did, I noticed that the box had a fairly significant puncture in it. When I opened the box and took out the album I immediately saw that the vinyl had what could only be described as a "crease" in it, about an inch long. It matched almost perfectly with the puncture in the shipping box. Needless to say I was not happy, so I let the seller know about the damaged album and got back a "sorry but it's not my fault" reply. I guess, technically, he was right but I was hoping for a little help/discount, which didn't happen :-(  I'm not into publicly trashing online sellers but I did let him know I wasn't completely satisified and that he could expect zero business from me in the future. Undaunted, I went back on Discogs, found another copy for $10 that was advertised as NM (near mint). I crossed my fingers as I ordered it. Luckily, when it arrived a week later it was in great shape. All it needed was a good cleaning and it was ready to go. So, I guess this album was a sort of "two for one" deal if I look at it in a positive way :-)

The Vinyl

The second time was the charm with this album. The vinyl is in very good shape but it did need a good cleaning, actually two good cleanings. I gave it my usual cleaning using my custom solution of distilled water, a drop of palmolive pure dish soap and a lab-grade surfactant (Triton X-114) and tossed it on the turntable and immediately noticed the right channel cutting in and out on the first track. Not good. I put the vinyl back on my cleaning machine (self made for <$50) and gave a good, vigorous 2nd cleaning. That did the job. The sound quality was much improved and the channel cutout was completely gone. It shows that even a good looking/glossy piece of vinyl can still need a good cleaning. The album is nearly 45 years old at this point and who knows what the "provenance" of this album was. All I know was that 2nd cleaning brought up a lot of dirt...

The Packaging

The album is a basic single vinyl LP in a standard cardboard sleeve. Here’s the front cover:

The Front Cover Of ARS

And here’s the back cover:

ARS Album Back

The First Listen

I turned on my Lounge LCRMKIII preamp (highly recommended and a review to come at some point) and Pro-ject Debut turntable, put the newly cleaned vinyl on the cork pad, lowered the arm and sat down for a listen....

Side 1

The first side started with “Love Me Just A Little - Sometime”. It's a good song to start off the album. After a few verses of some nice lyrics the song goes on for a couple more minutes sans lyrics.  And that's when it hit me -"so this is what a solid group of session musicians do when they get to make their own album - Jam!".  ARS was, after all, a session band, and a very talented one at that.

The second track, "Baby No Lie" is more of a ballad. Rodney Justo has a good voice and it is backed up by the rest of the band.

The third track is "All In Your Mind" and it has a sort of soft rock/jazz feel but with a slight edge. The lyrics are inspiring and speak to the power we have within us when we "put our mind to it".

"Earnestine" is track #4 and is another straight up juke joint jam session, no vocals needed. The lead and rhythm guitars of Barry Baily and J.R. Cobb get highlighted in this song.

The fifth track on side one is "Forty Days and Forty Nights"  and it is a slow groove, slightly spiritual song full of well played honky-tonk keyboards by Dean Daughtry and some nice vocals by Justo.

Side 2

Side two starts off with "Another Man's Woman(It's So Hard)". This song hit me as "southern rock" right off the vinyl. The bass line laid down by Paul Goddard is strong and solid, letting the guitars of Bailey and Cobb carry on a bit, all backed up by the drums/percussion of Robert Nix.

"Days of Our Lives" is the second track and no, it's not the theme song for the long-running soap opera, far from it. Rather, it is a song about the constant progression of time and how our life just keeps going so we better make the most of it.

"Yours and Mine" is track three and it's an uptempo song about taking responsibility for what we do. Everybody gets in the act on this song and it is a good listen.

"Can't Stand it No More" is a song about a broken relationship. There are a few good licks in this song that I enjoyed.

"One More Problem" is full of overdriven guitars, has a slightly urgent pace and a very "Dirty Electric Blues" feel to it. It is a good end to the album.

Second Listen and Thoughts

As I am getting in the habit of doing, I waited a few days to take a nother listen to the album. This time to try and get a deeper view of what the whole thing is about. So I re-cued the LP on my Pro Ject Debut Carbon Turntable and sat down for another listen. When I just sat there and listened without worrying about each individual song I came away with the impression that this first ARS album was a bit like letting a genie out of a bottle. There is a lot of talent on display here but it is a little rough around the edges. The musicianship is great, no question, but there is a lot of room for the band to grow. I was very happy to listen to this album because it sets the stage for what is to come as well as establishes a baseline. I've heard a lot of their songs over the years but never really in a complete album format. That will obviously change since the Atlanta Rhythm Section recorded all of their music up to 1989 at Studio One, so as part of my project I will listen to all of the albums over the course of this project....And I'm Looking Forward To It!!!!

Help Support This Project

OK, here’s where I shamelessly ask for money :-) Seriously, buying vintage vinyl (heck this one album cost me almost $30 when all is said and done) and hosting this site doesn’t come without a cost so any help you can provide toward that effort is greatly appreciated! If you like what you read and want to help out just click on one of the links below. You can get some ARS music for yourself, or anything else that Amazon sells, by Clicking on one of the links.

The ARS Music Page on Amazon

Buy Yourself a Turntable!

Buy Anything-Please!!!

The Studio One Project: Joe South Album Review

The Second Album From Studio One

Welcome to my review of the second album produced at Studio One, Joe South's self-titled release. This is the second review in my ongoing series that I call "Studio One Project: Great Music From Doraville" where I acquire and review every album that was recorded at Studio One in Doraville Georgia. Why would I do that you may be asking? Good question…..to find out the reason please check out the original post in the series (which has the table of albums recorded at Studio One along with links to my review of each album). The first review was of Hampton Grease Band's only album "Music to Eat", which was definitely a bit of an experience for me.

Before we dive into the review I must first issue a disclaimer:

“Warning, I am not a trained music reviewer! I’m just a guy who likes music. Anything that is said in any of my reviews is purely my own interpretation/opinion and should not be relied upon as an endorsement of the quality of any particular piece of music or compilation thereof.”

OK, now that we got that out of the way...onto the review!

Review #2 Joe South

Joe South on The Turntable

The second album produced or recorded at Studio One was Joe South's self-titled 1971 release. Joe South (born Joseph Souter) was born February 28th, 1940 in Atlanta. He died on September 5th, 2012 in Buford Georgia. Here is his page on Wikipedia. "Joe South" was his 4th studio album and was issued about two years after his biggest album "Games People Play", which gave Joe his biggest hit, the single of the same name that reached #12 on the Billboard charts. The song earned him two Grammy awards in 1970 for "best contemporary song" as well as "song of the year". Joe South was also a successful sideman, having played guitar on Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" album among others.

Here's a summary of the LP version of the album (courtesy of Discogs):

Joe South ‎– Joe South

Label:
Capitol Records ‎– ST-845
Format:
Vinyl, LP, Album
Country:
Released:
Genre:
Style:

Tracklist

A1 High On A Hilltop 3:48
A2 Birds Of A Feather 2:45
A3 For The Love Of A Woman 3:00
A4 Rose Garden 2:48
A5 Yo Yo 3:45
B1 Fool Me 2:59
B2 How Can Unlove You 2:20
B3 You Need Me 3:03
B4 She's Almost You 2:22
B5 Devil May Care 3:05

Companies, etc.

Credits

Notes

Capitol, Jacksonville pressing. FIrst issue, red label with purple "C" logo.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout (Matrix side A, on label): ST 1-845
  • Matrix / Runout (Matrix side B, on label): ST 2-845
  • Matrix / Runout (Runout side A, etched): ST1 845 H1 #2
  • Matrix / Runout (Runout side B, etched): ST2 845 H1 #1
  • Matrix / Runout (Runout both sides, stamped): 0
  • Rights Society: BMI

 

*SPECIAL REVIEWER NOTE: The biggest thing I noticed in the album details is the "Music by" section. If you notice, it says "Atlanta Rhythm Section". This is the first time they are mentioned on an album as far as I know. They obviously went on to a great career of their own and recorded their albums at Studio One.

The Purchase

When I started my search for the album on Discogs I was greeted with about 15 possible choices ranging in price form $5.99 to$25 depending on condition. While the selection wasn't exactly large it was definitely better than the available options for my last review, Music to Eat. I settled on a listing marked "VG+" for both the vinyl and the sleeve and sent off my $8.99 to the seller.

The Vinyl

The record showed up about 7 days after I purchased it and when I took a look at it I was happy to find that I had a "first pressing"!!. The logo on the record label was red with a purple "C" on it, indicating a first pressing. These are always nice to get, especially for this project :-) Once I got over my excitement with that I took a llok at the vinyl and it was in very good shape. Playing it revealed just a few minor "pops and clicks", which took absolutely nothing away from the sound. The vinyl was unwarped and glossy. I was happy.......

The Packaging

The album is a basic single vinyl LP in a standard cardboard sleeve. Here's the front cover:

The front of the Joe South cover

And here's the back cover:

The back of the Joe South album

The First Listen

Side 1

When the needle dropped on side 1 I was greeted with a very nice song, "High On A Hilltop". It immediately set the tone for the rest of the album. This was my first listen to any album by Joe South and I wasn't familiar with his music at all. Within 10 seconds it became apparent that Joe South's music was more "Country" than rock and I was fine with that. The second track, Birds of a Feather, is a nice relaxing tune. The next track, For The Love of A Woman, does a great job of explaining why us males do what we do. The second to last track, Rose Garden, was probably the biggest hit on the album and for anyone over the age of 40 the tune/lyrics are immediately familiar. The song has been covered numerous times. The final track on side one is "Yo Yo" which has a bit of a Motown feel to it. Joe South has a pretty good voice and the recording  transmits a feeling of "fun" that is nice to hear.

Side 2

Side two starts with "Fool Me", which seems like a song about how we tend to ignore our faults in exchange for recognition. Once again, the lyrics and music are well played. The second track is "How Can I Unlove You" a song about regret that can't be undone. The next track is "You Need Me" which is a song that addresses the almost opposite feelings as "How Can I Unlove You". It's a nice back-to-back song combo. "She's Almost You" is the next and I think it's a song about reminders, specifically a women that looks and acts like the one you love. "Devil May Care" finishes up the album and is one more song about relationships and how people stay in them despite faults.

Second Listen and Thoughts

A few days after my initial listen I re-cued the LP on my Pro Ject Debut Carbon Turntable and sat down for another listen. What I took away was that Joe South was an excellent songsmith. His lyrics are well thought out and make an emotional impact on the listener. Combine that with the excellent musicianship of the band behind him, namely The Atlanta Rhythm Section (you'll hear alot more from these guys!), and you have a powerful combination. I really enjoy this album and it was a great use of my $8.99.

Bottom line is if you appreciate good songwriting and like "Countryish" music, Joe South is a worthwhile artist to listen to. He had a great career in the music business, wrote a lot of songs that just about everyone has heard and performed with some of the greats. Check out his music on Amazon (see below) and give it a try!

Help Support This Project

OK, here's where I shamelessly ask for money :-) Seriously, buying vintage vinyl and hosting this site doesn't come without a cost so any help you can provide toward that effort is greatly appreciated! If you like what you read and want to help out just click on one of the links below. You can get some Joe South music for yourself, or anything else that Amazon sells, by Clicking on one of the links.

Joe South Music on Amazon

Buy Any Kind of Music on Amazon

The Next Review

Review #3 in this series will be of the Atlanta Rhythm Section's first album. It may be a little delayed though as my first copy of the album arrived with a "crease" in the vinyl! I've never seen that before. My guess is that it was damaged in shipping. Either way, it was unplayable so I'm actively seeking a suitable replacement. Hopefully I can find one fairly soon and get it reviewed. Stay tuned...

The Studio One Project: Hampton Grease Band-Music to Eat

The First of Many

This is the first album review in my "Studio One Project: Great Music From Doraville" series where I acquire and review every album that was recorded at Studio One in Doraville Georgia. Why would I do that you may be asking? Good question.....to find out the reason please check out the original post in the series (which has the table of albums recorded at Studio One along with links to my review of each album).

Before we dive into the review I must first issue a disclaimer:

"Warning, I am not a trained music reviewer! I'm just a guy who likes music. Anything that is said in any of my reviews is purely my own interpretation/opinion and should not be relied upon as an endorsement of the quality of any particular piece of music or compilation thereof."

OK, on to the (quite long) review!

Review #1-Hampton Grease Band-Music to Eat

Hampton Grease Band Music to Eat on the turntable

The Hampton Grease band was formed around 1967 in Atlanta and as far as I can discern through my research they were the first group to record songs at Studio One that ended up on a commercial album. It was the only album made by Hampton Grease and since it's release in 1971 it has apparently attained a bit of cult status. To be honest, I had absolutely zero idea who Hampton Grease was until I started my research for the Studio One Project. Here's one of the first things I came across as I started poking around the interwebs:

From the Wikipedia page for the album:

Music to Eat is the only album ever produced by avant garderock band Hampton Grease Band. It was released in 1971. The album is a double album, which is apocryphally said to have been the second-lowest selling album in Columbia's history, second only to aMaharishi Mahesh Yogi yoga instructional record. This record compares with the likes of Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, and Pere Ubu.

I figured with a description of the band/album like that I just had to have it. I mean who wouldn't want to own a copy of the second-lowest selling album in Columbia record's history :-) Here's a listing of the tracks on the 2 LP's along with other information (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Length
A1 "Halifax" Glenn Phillips, Bruce Hampton 19:42
B1 "Maria" Phillips 5:33
B2 "Six" Harold Kelling, Hampton 19:32
C1 "Evans: a) Egyptian Beaver b) Evans" Jerry Fields, Hampton, Mike Holbrook, Kelling, Phillips 12:28
C2 "Lawton" Phillips, Fields 7:48
D1 "Hey Old Lady and Bert's Song" Kelling, Hampton 3:22
D2 "Hendon: a) Spray Paint b) Major Bones c) Sewell Park d) Improvisation" Fields, Hampton, Holbrook, Kelling, Phillips 20:10
Total length:
1:28:38

Notes

Tracks A1, C1 & D2 recorded at LeFerve Sound Studio, Atlanta, and Apostolic Studios, New York Tracks B1, B2, C2 & D1 recorded at Studio One, Atlanta, and Columbia Record Studios, New York

The Purchase

I started my search for the album on Discogs and quickly discovered that there aren't that many copies available, and the one's that were and seemed to be in decent shape were slightly expensive. One of the "rules" of this project is to try to acquire as nice a copy as I can of the original version of the album within my budgetary constraints. What are those constraints? Basically whatever I feel I can get a good copy of the album for within the universe of available copies at the time I'm looking to purchase.

When I started looking to buy a copy over the Thanksgiving weekend I found a range of offerings from $2.00 to >$120 for copies that were anywhere from "Good" to "Mint". After looking at the available options I made the decision to go with a copy that was supposed to have "VG+" media quality with a "Good" sleeve quality. I figured I wanted the best sounding (within reason) vinyl I could get and a decent cover. I ended up paying $25.99 for the album and received it in Mid-December, 2015 (along with a copy of the 2nd album from Studio One, Joe South's self-titled 1971 release).

The Packaging

Music to Eat is a 2LP package with a gatefold sleeve. My copy is in OK shape sleeve wise but does show a fair amount of ringwear as well as having a cut corner and a former owners name "Wolff" on the front and back cover. Here's the front cover:

The Front Cover

As you can see there is a lot of shelf wear on the cover. The top left corner is also cut off. The image on the cover is definitely colorful and abstract. Here's the inside of the album:

The gatefold of music to eat

The inside of the album is in pretty good shape. It is creatively done with a fair amount of pictures of the band and some interesting writing/descriptions

Music to eat back cover

The back cover has a listing of the tracks on top and a drawing of a tank. My copy also has the same "Wolff" written in ink just like on the front cover.

Overall I'm happy with the condition of the cover when I compare it to the cost of other copies of the album. It is, after all, a nearly 45 year old piece of cardboard that has been through who knows how many owners hands. Whats important was that the quality of the vinyl was acceptable.

The Vinyl

My main concern when buying an old album is that the vinyl is in good shape. The better the shape the happier I am. Fortunately the 2 discs in my copy of Music to Eat were solidly in the VG to VG+ range meaning there are a few bits of surface noise but no scratches/skips. I gave the discs a solid cleaning on my record cleaning machine and put the disks in new sleeves. Now it was time to give this thing a listen!........ But first another "rule" of this project:

I have decided that since many of these albums in the Studio One Project will be 1st time listens for me I will not do any specific research into the album until I have listened to it at least once. I want to try and learn as much as I can by listening to the music before verifying (or not) my initial impressions.

So, how did that "rule" play out on Music to Eat?  Read on.........

The First Listen

I was busy with work so I didn't get a chance to sit down and listen to the album until Christmas day (and what a gift it was!) For those of you that are on Google+, Here's my quick post about my first listen. Since then I've listened to the album 2 more times and think I can relate a decent opinion/feel for what the album is like.

Side 1

When I dropped the needle on side 1 my initial impression was basically, "What the Hell is This!??" The opening track, Halifax, takes up all of side one, is nearly 20 minutes long and seemed to be full of absolutely random sounds and lyrics. Bruce Hampton, the vocalist,had a slightly maniacal/completely disconnected tone to his voice. I literally sat there with my mouth half open listening to the sounds emanating from my speakers. The lyrics seemed like a mix of random thoughts combined with a chamber of commerce commercial for Halifax, which I assumed was the Nova Scotia Halifax. The whole experience was definitely free-form/avant garde/jazz improvization/psychedelic in nature. Stunned, I flipped the first disc over to side 2, composed myself, and sat back down.

Side 2

Side 2 was much more obvious to me, at least at the beginning.... The first track is "Maria" which is a song about a 13 year old boy losing his virginity to Maria. The music is "Mexicanesque" and the lyrics are smart, slightly vulgar and hilarious. A very enjoyable song. The send track on side 2 is "Six" (at 19+ minutes long) and once again I was blown away. With lyrics like "Realized cabbage", "reaming our nasal passages", "fourteen Russian shoe salesmen", and "carrots exploding around us" I was at a loss for words. And that brings me to something I realized about halfway through "Six" and that is if you can block out the ramblings that sometimes pass for lyrics there are some good sections of music to be heard. It is obvious that these guys know how to play. There are lots of quick transitions, crisp guitar and drum parts and inspired improvisation throughout the entire album.

Side 3

The third side starts off with "Evans" a 17+ minute track that is very interesting musically, with lots of stuff going on. The lyrics poke fun Jim Evans (who was a friend of the band) but the music is where this one is at. The side finishes up with "Lawton" a nearly 8 minute song that was very free-form and nearly devoid of lyrics except for some chanting at the end

Side 4

The track "Hey Old Lady And Bert's Song" starts off the final side and is about a crazy old lady. It's just over 3 minutes and might be the most "radio friendly" of the whole album. The album finishes up with "Hendon", a 20 minute track in four parts: Spray Paint, Major Bones, Sewell Park, and Improvisation. Once again there are some crazy lyrics but the music is solid. The "Improvisation" part of Hendon was very enjoyable in a trippy kind of way.

Second Listen and Thoughts

After my initial listen to the album I spent some time researching the band and the album before listening to it again. I discovered that some of my initial impressions/assumptions were correct but a few were wrong (check out the links below).

Armed with my new frame of reference about the band and the music I listened to "Music to Eat" with a new found sense of purpose. What I discovered was that their music is pretty solid and that the lyrics, while often just flat-out bizzare, were built out of inside jokes between the members of the band as well as their own personal experiences. These guys are true musicians but with a "who gives a shit?" attitude. The result is some very creative music that doesn't neatly fit in a box.

The Hampton Grease Band has a pretty rich history despite only ever producing 1 album. Because of that this album shouldn't be discounted, even if the music isn't in your wheelhouse. I am very glad I purchased this album and I will enjoy listening to it for years to come. Check out the links below (especially the first one) for more information on Hampton Grease. If you are interested in the music of Hampton Grease Band and want to support this blog a teeny tiny bit, click on the link below. Thanks in advance for any support!

Music to Eat on Amazon

https://plus.google.com/+MarkSinderson/posts/NXzuZ9Kuvrt

Additional Links

Here's a list of links I found in my "research" for this review. I've quoted excerpts from some of these in the review. Lots of interesting reading.....

http://www.angelfire.com/ga2/glennphillips/band/hampton-grease-band.html- A must read! that gives a fairly complete history of the band written by Glenn Phillips, one of the members of the band.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampton_Grease_Band

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_to_Eat

http://www.discogs.com/Hampton-Grease-Band-Music-To-Eat/release/1828349

http://www.markprindle.com/hampton.htm

https://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/review/772

http://www.allmusic.com/album/music-to-eat-mw0000647203

http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013/06/hampton-grease-band-music-to-eat-1971.html

Coming Up Next....Joe South

If you made it this far all I can say is "Thanks for your patience!" as I learn/build/refine my music review format. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned a little more about the Hampton Grease Band and how it's unique spot in musical history was partially forged in a warehouse in Doraville, GA.

The next album I'll review is the 1971 self-titled release from Joe South. Stay tuned........

The Studio One Project: Great Music From Doraville Georgia

Believe it or not, this nondescript building once housed one of the most influential recording studios in the history of music: This nondescript building once housed Studio One, one of the most significant recording studios in the history of Rock Music

Yep, that's right. This totally anonymous building was once the home of Studio One, where the history of music was changed for the better. It's a warehouse now but back in the 70's and 80's bands like The Atlanta Rhythm Section, Elf, 38 Special, Journey, Joe South and Lynyrd Skynyrd used Studio One to record their music, with many of the songs becoming mega-hits that changed the path of music in the 1970's and 1980's.

I became aware of Studio One when I got back into Vinyl Records last year. I picked up a good quality used copy of "Champagne Jam" by the Atlanta Rhythm Section and as I was researching it on Discogs to see which pressing I had I came across the note that it was recorded at "Studio One, Doraville". Well, that immediately piqued my attention since Doraville is about a 3 minute drive from our house.

As I dug a little deeper I discovered that Studio One was responsible for some of the most iconic recordings in music history, especially in the genre of "southern rock", which I enjoy. Studio One was designed by audio engineer Rodney Mills, with the support of music publisher Bill Lowery and future Atlanta Rhythm Section manager Buddy Buie. After researching the history of the studio and seeing some of the records that were recorded there I decided to use Studio One as a "project" to collect all of the records (in vinyl of course) that were recorded there.

Studio One

As far as I can tell at this point there were 51 records that came from Studio One (not including compilations, etc.).  There might be others and if I find more I will add them to the list.

The Plan

My plan is to acquire and review each (or as many as I can) of the records in as close to chronological order as possible. I will try to get original release copies and avoid purchasing any reissues/remasters, etc. Of course, I will be purchasing the vinyl version :-) and I will try to get as good a copy as I can of each album as long as the cost is within a reasonable amount and doesn't force me to eat Spam for a year!

The List

Here's the list of albums that were recorded at Studio One. The list is a combination of information from wikipedia and Discogs and is in chronological order from oldest to newest. I also have columns for whether the album is in my collection, the price I paid for the album and for the link to the post with any review I do of the album.

[table id=2 /]

Off And Running

As you saw in the table, I do own a few of the albums already and I am expecting delivery of two (I think the 1st two) albums recorded at Studio One. So, stay tuned for a post relatively soon with an update and a review of "Music To Eat" by the Hampton Grease band.

This is going to be fun!!!