The Hampton Grease Band’s sole album, 1971’s sprawling double LP, Music To Eat, stands as the finest document of Post-Psychedelic, long form, Southern Fried Experimental Cosmic/Comic Jazz Rock spew, to dare walk the line between The Mothers of Invention and the Allman Brothers. Not surprisingly both acts were also fans of the Grease Band’s complex structures and twisted humor, with Zappa signing the band to Bizarre/Straight Records (for an unrecorded album, as the group disbanded shortly thereafter), and the Allman Brothers recognizing their talents after sharing the stage at various Atlanta based gigs. So…take music that is somehow undeniably Southern in nature and tightly arranged but exploratory in form, add a healthy dose of the playfulness and wit of early Zappa with the Surrealist/Dada inspired lyricism of Don Van Vliet, underpinned by a band both as tight as either The Mothers or Magic Band, but as comfortably loose as the best, lost to history, juke joint combo to ever sweat it out on the chitlin circuit, and you’ve kinda got an idea of the magic of the Grease Band, and it’s captain, Col. Bruce Hampton.
Here’s a gig recorded at The Atlanta Sports Arena. After a little research, I’m uncertain of the year. According to a clip below, Bruce thinks it’s 1969, and I’ve seen 1970 listed as a possibility, but I received it attributed to 1971. Dates aside, this is clearly a stellar example of the Grease Band’s many skills. (edited with corrected info here) Guitarist Harold Kelling departure turned the Grease Band into a single guitar group, with Glenn Phillips deftly taking the reigns with bursts of Sonny Sharrock levels of intensity combined with melodic sensibility. Playing the smoother vocal foil to Bruce’s raspy, intense delivery, are , I believe, the aforementioned Kelling and drummer, Jerry Fields. The set gives perhaps an even greater look at the influences which spawned the band, with a gamut of sounds even more diverse than the album, including a fairly traditional read of Roger Miller’s, King of The Road, and a balls out Rock Around The Clock. Suffice it to say, fans of Music To Eat, starved for further evidence of Grease Band genius, are gonna wanna stuff themselves sick on this psychedelic smorgasbord.
Also, I’d be remiss to not state my belief that Sun City Girls and the Meat Puppets must have imbibed numerous chemical/natural concoctions while baking in the Arizona sun listening to Music To Eat.
(uncheck the “Download with Secured Download manager” box before downloading)
Here’s an interview from 1971, and a couple of other live tracks of unknown origin, including a Hendon that turns into the Andy Griffith theme.
Also, this 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival set was uploaded to youtube just last week, and may be the best of all. “What do you need Rock festivals for when you’ve got that up in Atlanta?”
Last but not least, a couple of clips from the Basically Frightened, Bruce Hampton documentary…
Post-Grease Band awesomeness, The New Ice Age. Have you ever had sex with Durward Kirby?!