sleeve; double LP
Catalog ID: 179
Having met while playing in local Atlanta,
Georgia bands, singer (I'm used the term loosely) and guitarist Harold
Kelling began working together in the late-1960s. Adding drummer Jerry
Fields, bassist Mike Holbrook and guitarist Glenn Phillips to the lineup,
the band began playing Atlanta's small underground music scene.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of The Mothers of Invention, the band
attracted a small cult following and by 1968 was even opening for name acts
such as Jimi Hendrix (???), B.B. King, Procol Harum, and Three Dog Night
playing Atlanta. Somehow attracting the attention of Allman Brothers manager
Phil Walden, in 1969 the group scored a contract with Columbia.
1969's "Music To Eat"
was difficult to describe. Teamed with producer David Baker, the debut was
initially planned as a single album set. Hard to believe, but reportedly recorded with a matter
of days, Columbia executives were apparently furious at the results,
recruiting producer Tim Gleelan to work with the band in an attempt to
convince them to record some shorter, more commercial material. Clearly
unsuccessful, Columbia caved on the "commercial" concept, instead
electing to release the material as a double album set. With original
material such as "Halifax", "Hendon" and "Six"
all clocking in at close to 20 minutes, nobody was about to mistake these
guys for your run-of-the-mill top-40 cover band. Musically the band
displayed an-every-thing-including-the-kitchen-sink approach to songwriting.
Mixing everything from meltdown guitar jams (checkout Kelling and Phillips
work about ten minutes into "Halifax") to outright dissonance
("Six") and Zappa-styled dada lyrics (hearing Hampton 'sing' the
words off the back of a spray paint can ("Spray Can")can best be
described as a disturbing experience), the results were comparable to other aural disasters
such as Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music". Elsewhere, sounding like
a cross between an 80 year old blues singer, a cat in heat and a vacuum
cleaner on the frizz, in the role of lead singer namesake Hampton was an acquired taste.
While the remaining four members were at least capable of playing their
instruments, they seldom sounded as if they were playing the same song. A
complete commercial disaster (Columbia reportedly tried to market the album
as a comedy set), the album was reportedly one of the company's all-time
worst sellers. So why the fours stars? It's based 100% on the album's
bizarre characteristics ... most people won't last more than a couple
of minutes, but there are some hardcore folks out there that will find this
"Music To Eat" track listing:
1.) Halifax (Glenn Phillips - Bruce Hampton) - 19:36
1.) Maria (Glenn Phillips) - 5:27
2.) Six (Bruce Hampton - Harold Kelling)- 19:31
a.) Egyptian Beaver
1.) Hey Old Lady and Bert's Song
a.) Spray Paint (Jerry Fields - Bruce Hampton - Mike Holbrook - Harold
Kelling - Glenn Phillips) - 1:15
b.) Major Bones (Jerry Fields - Bruce Hampton - Mike Holbrook - Harold
Kelling - Glenn Phillips) - 2:05
c.) Sewell Park (Jerry Fields - Bruce Hampton - Mike Holbrook - Harold
Kelling - Glenn Phillips) - 5:18
d.) Improvisation (Jerry Fields - Bruce Hampton - Mike Holbrook - Harold
Kelling - Glenn Phillips) - 11:35
Signed by Zappa's Bizarre/Straight label (Mothers of Invention alumnist Bill
Payne had mixed part of their album), the band subsequently collapsed in the
wake of Kelling and Hampton's departures. Hampton reappeared as a member of
the equally eclectic Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit.