Hampton Grease Band, Music to Eat- Dan Enright

This re-release by Sony - thanks to producer Brendan O'Brien's label, Shotgun Records - was first released in 1971. It apparently sank (I'd never heard of them - and I was actively collecting this kind of music when it was first released) because it was so eclecticly...different.

The first impression I formed, which permeates every listening, has to do with the "sound" of the production. Sparse and unfiltered, it sounds just like what it is; guitars plugged into amps and recorded by mics. Very uncluttered. And while it dates the recording, I prefer it this way. The songwriting/performance however, is something completely different.

It begins with "Halifax" - a raw, unorganized, under-rehearsed jam, accompanied off-key "singing" of a chamber-of-commerce brochure (or something frightfully close) about Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, slowly and subtly, an incredibly tight performance emerges - reminiscent of, at times, of the very best work bands like the Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Grateful Dead, Santana, Mothers of Invention, Beefheart, John Coltrane and others were doing at the same time.

One moment, disjointed, inchoherent ramblings by unnconected instruments quickly transforms into tight psychedelic rock, then freeform jazz, then complete (by design) technical imcompetence, and then back into a straight ahead, tightly woven, groove rockin jam. Broken by a voice announcing, "I don't trust the tape, let's do it again..." Which twists (twists, hell... forces) the song back into its beginning, and onto a mobius loop.

The entire album follows in this "genre." They were far enough ahead of their time, that a lot of styles have since emerged, similar - in part - to this quartet, but certainly not different enough to have been directly influenced. Had they been on the west coast, instead of Georgia, they'd have fared much better, I think. And they would have fit right in.

If you like this kind of stuff, this is an essential release. And it still sounds as fresh as when it was released.


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