Hampton Grease Band – Music to Eat (1971) review

June 19, 2013

Hampton Grease Band – Music to Eat (1971) review

Hampton Grease Band “Music to Eat”(Columbia, 1971)
When purchasing a record guide book, I have
learned to look carefully. The way I have learned to go about this is to skip
to something I have a very strong opinion about anyway, like for instance,
Funkadelic. Yeah! Funkadelic is a great example because most guide books, the
ones that use the “star” rating system seem to go by maybe the
Billboard chartings, I guess. Most will tell you that Funkadelic’s greatest Lp,
the one to start with, is “One Nation Under A Groove”. That’s the
“5 star”. And my favorite, “America eats It’s Young” gets 1
1/2 stars or some shit. Know what I mean? Does this confuse what I already
think? No. One of my biggest problems is that I tend to become a
“superfan” of a group and if I like them I will end up buying them all,
usually starting from the beginning and going until it washes out for me. But
during a groups best years I will defend them for making their artistic
statements! I will stick it out. And know that some of the best records are the
ones that “grow” on you, right? There are also reasons for digging
something from just a musician’s perspective, ya know. Like guitar tone, drum
sounds, room reverb. Just sink in and become close to the atmosphere of the
recording. Picture the scene outside the building the music was recorded in…….
In 1971 it was a world of muscle cars, beer cans with pull tabs (that
you could “daisy chain” together to make necklaces out of). The slang
was different in 1971….the word on the street. The air smelled a little
different, the sky was a little different blue. All the dudes had thier cut of
shorts on at the swimming hole. Rolled up American flag bandanas for headbands.
Chics with their bikini’s. Joints rolled in strawberry papers. 8 tracks were as
easy to come by as records. The street signs were different. Close your eyes
and listen to the record and let it take you there. Because it is there, isn’t
it? When the tape is rolling it is getting all that. When you hear the
audiophiles talk about listening to the room. You get the word on the street,
the daisy chains, the strawberry joints, the muscle cars….those are in the
room too. That’s what was going on, in conversations,  just before the tape started rolling.
1970, Columbia records, signed the Hampton Grease Band from Atlanta, GA. A band
that had been around since the mid-60’s. A band that opened for the Grateful
Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. It is rumored that Hampton Grease Band’s
1971 Columbia masterpiece “Music To Eat” was the lowest selling Lp
that Columbia had made, at that time.
Hampton Grease Band is Bruce Hampton (later of Col. Bruce Hampton and
The Aquarian Rescue Unit fame) on vocals and trumpet, Jerry Fields on  drums, percussion, trombone and vocals, Mike
Holbrook on bass, Harold Kelling on guitar and vocals and Glenn Phillips on
guitar and sax. This album, classic double album is right away much like
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band…or The Mothers or The Fugs. In fact,
after this album Frank Zappa supposedly signed them to his Straight/ Bizarre
labels. I can’t find that they actually recorded and released anything as this
band after Music To eat. There are a few reviews out there who just hate this
record. It is a very noncommercial record. But hey….
This record is wild happy craziness! It is basically just 5 songs. Like
I said, sort of like Capt. Beefheart’s Magic Band. Two absolutely excellent
guitar players. An absolutely fantastic drummer and bass player, crazy spurts
of horns, not a lot, just a little and not often. The guitar playing is so matched
to each other. Not very distorted, just over driven a little, no effects. There
are 4 songs reaching to 19 minutes plus and one song just over 5 minutes. The
band plays together in that telepathic way on these long passages, it’s easy to
just get lost in the jamming. And it’s not just one long “same”
rambling jam either it goes from this to that in different, well arranged
parts. The lyrics are, well….let’s just start from the beginning… the first
tune is called “Halifax” and he sings it as if he is reading
descriptions from the World Book encyclopedia about Halifax (Canada?) or
Halifax travel bureau or something. “wouldn’t you like to come to
Halifax?…air mass is moving eastwardly….” Maria is the only tune under
6 minutes. It speaks of a 13 year old boy named Sancho lusting after Maria who
is 5 years older. They tell the story well with crazy laughter and all. At one
point he is reading from a spray paint can (or that’s what it sounds like to
me) “keep out of reach of children”….”contents are under
pressure”. The last song “Hey Old lady and Bert’s Song…” they
get into a southern rock jam that is right up there with early Allman Brothers
with the dual guitars weaving together like snakes dancing. It is, to me, as
focused as it is experimental.
Yep put this one on and listen to THIS sound of 1971. Hot summertime in
Atlanta 1971. It is a light hearted beautiful trip….I love it.
Review made by Phillip R. Eubanks (of
Plastic Magic)/2013
© Copyright
One Comment
  1. Marina Kingston

    It's Psychedelic Baby is an independent, music magazine and is really a fun and informative one like the one at drumming and music site. I will surely place it on listen, I would love to spread the voice too.

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