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!!!

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Happy New Year And My Plans For 2017

Hey everybody!

Wow, where did 2016 go? It’s hard to believe 2017 is here but let me be among the first to wish all of you a Happy and prosperous New Year!

After a long break from actively updating this blog (auto posts from my Instagram have been the only real activity on this blog since March) I should be able to get back into the swing of things and actually start posting original content again. Let me bring Y’all up to speed on what’s been taking up my time and let you in on my plans for this blog in 2017.

What I’ve Been Up To

Since March of 2016 I’ve been focused on a new path in my career which is finally coming together and should allow me to spend some more time indulging my many non-work pursuits, including this blog. Here’s some more details:

Some of you may know what it is that I do for “work” but my guess is most of you have no idea. That is by design since I have always figured it’s not very beneficial to mix “work and play”. I’m still mostly of that belief but I think it’s now fine to share some of the details, especially since the changes will allow me to offer my services to those of you that might be interested.

Since 2002 I have worked in the Financial Services field as a Financial Advisor/Planner. My desire was to offer true financial planning, not just sales of financial products. To that end I earned the CFP® Certification in 2006. For the last ten years I worked with an independent wealth management firm whose clients were typically “high net worth”. This means that they had in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 of net worth (or more). While I enjoyed the people I worked with I originally got into the profession to help as many people as possible plan and secure their financial futures, not just millionaires.

So, last year I decided that it was time to make some changes and I began working with a start-up company dedicated to making quality financial planning available to anyone who wanted it. We are just about done creating the platform we will use and expect to roll it out early in 2017.

Once we go live, I will be able to offer low-cost, comprehensive financial planning and investment management services to just about anyone, anywhere. Our platform will be “virtual” meaning we’ll use technology to deliver our services. We won’t be tied to a specific office location or company. If you want to work with us you can, no matter where you are located. As I said, I’ll let all of you know when things are ready to roll so stay tuned….

What does this mean for this blog? Well, the big benefit is that I will be in much more control of my time since I won’t be tied to an office from 7AM to 6PM five days a week. The whole point of me making the changes I did is to help people “live their ideal life” and I want that to apply to me as well. I will be able to spend more time enjoying my out-of-work hobbies and as a result adding content to this blog. I’m a firm believer that life is much more than work and I want this blog to reflect that. Here’s what I have planned, area by area that hopefully can help you “live your ideal life”, whatever that may be.

Music

I’ve been a lover of music for a long time. Music is a powerful art form and I have been influenced by it my entire adult life. I have a lot of CD’s and in 2015 I purchased a turntable and began collecting vinyl. Along those lines, I started my “Studio One Project” back in December 2015. The idea was to purchase and review each of the recordings (on vinyl, of course) that were done at Studio One, a now defunct studio here in Atlanta that produced some of the most iconic music of the 1970’s and early 80’s. Click the link above for more info. I made it through 3 of the 51 or so albums recorded there before I got derailed.

My plan is to pick the project back up here in the next week or so with a review of the 4th album, Elf, so stay tuned for that review. In addition to that project I will also review other music-related items (software, audio equipment, etc.). Hopefully my adventures in music will inspire you to experience some new music in your life.

Personal Finance

Now that I have more freedom in my professional pursuits I plan on sharing some useful information on the whole area of personal finance, financial planning and investments. I will probably use my firm’s website/blog for most of this but expect to see some content as well. I’ll update everyone on this as things come together.

Photography

I have been a enthusiastic amateur photographer since 2011 and really enjoy the challenge of interpreting the world around me through a lens. I haven’t done nearly as much photography over the last year as I would have liked so I hope to be using my camera much more in 2017 and beyond. I’ll try to post a few photography-related things here as I get time.

Technology

I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve always been a geek. I enjoy gadgets and technology and I want to share that with the readers of this blog. My plan is to post reviews of gadgets, share tips and generally revel in world of technology

Health and Fitness

I’ve been a fitness lover since high school and have spent the last 40 years or so pursuing a balanced lifestyle that includes keeping myself physically fit and vital. The way I’ve pursued that has changed over the years but I think I can provide some useful tips, tools and resources to help people get the most out of life through diet and exercise.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see I am looking forward to re-engaging with the blog and everyone who reads it. Hopefully you enjoy what I produce and I am looking forward to engaging with all of you via the comments.

Stay tuned for all the fun! I expect that the first few posts will be focused on continuing the Studio One Project as well as talking about some dietary changes we most likely will be pursuing in the new year.

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Now Spinning – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronounced Lehnerd Skinnerd

This is my first listen to this piece of vinyl, the MCA Records/Sounds Of The South 1973 release, catalog MCA-363 and damn is it good! This was recorded at the iconic #studioone in nearby #doraville, one of THE studios responsible for #southernrock as we know it. A piece of history spinning away on my turntable! #lynyrdskynyrd #debutalbum #southernrock #analogmusic #turntable #doraville #clasicrock

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Here’s the actual McRib sandwich.

It doesn’t look quite like the picture on the menu board but it tastes just like I remember. The pickles and onions balance out the sweet and smokey BBQ sauce that tops the excellent ” chunked and formed” pork patty. The bun is reasonably fresh as well. For what it is it ain’t bad. All hail the McRib! #tastesensation #fastfoodreview #mcrib #sandwich #mcdonalds

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