Friday, June 25, 2010

Elf - s/t

6/10

The early 1970's, in my opinion, were the golden age of keyboards. Moogs and mellotrons were making their big mainstream splash after some isolated use in songs such as "Strawberry Fields Forever," the Hammond organ and electric piano were popular, and most of the cheesy keyboards that would become popular in the late 70's and 80's hadn't been invented yet.
So why the hell does Elf keyboardist Mickey Lee Soule insist on using the exact same style of honky-tonk piano in every track on this album? At first, I was thinking, "Wow, this is nothing like I expected at all! Dio hasn't quite found his niche as a metal screamer yet, but he's a surprisingly good blues-rock vocalist. And that piano's a nice change of pace from most of the stuff on the first Rainbow album." (I was aware that Soule had performed on that album, which only had one piano-heavy track).
Unfortunately, instead of taking advantage of all the keyboards that were available to him, Soule insisted on playing a plain ol' piano on every track, with very little stylistic variation. As a result, Elf's debut album becomes fairly tedious, despite the otherwise decent songwriting and some decent guitar playing from David Feinstein. (Admittedly, there's one track with some Hammond organ overdubs and another with some synthesizer, but they're used sparingly, with the emphasis still being on the honky-tonk piano.)
Even without the lame piano, I wouldn't recommend this to metal fans, though. This is blues-rock, not metal, and it's not even on the heavier side of the genre. Even the lyrics aren't anything like the Dungeons and Dragons stuff that Dio would later become famous for, instead focusing on Southern-style. This is still worth a look, but be aware of that annoying piano.

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