Elf
Elf


3.5
great

Review

by Conor USER (12 Reviews)
July 1st, 2010 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: By no means a humble beginning, the late metal legend's first major project is an interesting and rewarding classic rock album for the die hards, though a far cry from what one would expect.

LepreCon Presents: Rock Legends
Legend In Focus: Ronnie James Dio- ELF
Part One: Hoochie- Coochie, Bippity- Boppity


New Hampshire-born Ronald James Padavona is better known to the general rock and metal community as Ronnie James Dio, the ‘voice of metal’ if you will. Ronnie’s professional music career was illustrious and prolific, with the man featuring on countless albums as part of various bands or as a special guest. His distinctive vocal style has proven influential and hugely popular. The Electric Elves was Ronnie’s first major project to gain him some recognition. They shortened their name to The Elves before finally becoming simply Elf in time for their 1972 eponymous debut album. Ronnie was about to get his big break and it was to be the beginning of another rock and metal legend…

The Elf Lineup Was:
Ronnie James Dio- lead vocals and bass guitar
David 'Rock' Feinstein- lead guitar
Mickey Lee Soule- piano
Gary Driscoll- drums

Elf could not have come about at a more perfect time. The 60’s were over. Hippy culture had become almost non-existent in a very short period of time. As is often the case, a shift in focus of popular music coincides with changes in popular culture. Jimi Hendrix had proven at Woodstock that hard rock was the natural successor of its psychedelic parent. Bluesy riffs and licks over some simple boogie grooves followed by a killer solo or two became the name of the game. Even psychedelic giants The Doors took note of this shift and went in a more bluesy direction with their music before the untimely death of their charismatic, enigmatic frontman Jim Morrison. The Alice Cooper band discarded their initial eclectic, trippy sound to great success, both critically and commercially. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith; all but a few of the many legendary groups to rise to prominence. It was an exciting time for rock music all right.

Elf was just as groundbreaking an album as any other to be released during this time. Produced by Roger Glover and Ian Paice of Deep Purple fame, it is perhaps no surprise that comparisons can be so easily drawn between this record and, say, Deep Purple In Rock. The band proves from the get go that they are no peace and love- preaching, flower power- mongering group, kicking off the album with an infectiously groovy, hard-rocking number in the form of Hoochie-Coochie Lady. In a sense, the entire album can be summed up in this one song. It sets the mood for the rest of the record and has a bit of everything that you can expect to hear for the next half an hour or so- a groovy bassline, tight drumwork, soulful honky-tonk piano, some killer guitar and of course Ronnie’s charismatic vocals, a melting pot of blues, jazz and southern rock. The song brings to mind a sleazy smoke-filled club with the band playing for the down-on-their-luck barflies and this has as much to do with the lyrics as well as the music, in which the speaker describes the perfect woman that all the other deadbeats could merely dream about.

Critics of Ronnie’s somewhat seemingly small vocal range will be quickly silenced by his talented display of his chops in First Avenue, when he goes from a G2 to a falsetto A5 in each line of the verse. To those uninitiated in musical theory, that’s one hell of a leap in terms of notes. But it is not just his range that makes Ronnie a sweet vocalist, it is his charisma and ability to adapt to different styles that makes him stand out. Songs like I’m Coming Home and Gambler, Gambler are the real rockers that one would expect of Ronnie, where he belts out the lines like a pro. However, other tracks like Never More, a beautiful and haunting song about regret for lost love and the more upbeat Dixie Lee Junction are pure crooning numbers.

Of course, as the vocalist and frontman, Ronnie is bound to be the centre of attention, but it would be a terrible fallacy to ignore the talents of the other band members. Driscoll proves his time keeping abilities with some tight but expert beats and decent fills, even getting a few brief solo runs in First Avenue and Gambler, Gambler. Proficient in a number of instruments, Ronnie also mans the bass guitar and gives the songs that boogie and push that makes them as bouncy and infectious as can be. Feinstein proves himself a talented guitarist, firing off those licks and solos in a superb fashion, one need only hear his jazzy rhythm keeping in the verses of Sit Down Honey and the pyrotechnic breaks in Hoochie-Coochie Lady and Love Me Like a Woman to see that he stood alongside the likes of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore when it came to axework. But perhaps most notably of all, Soule’s piano work is outstanding. His haunting intro to Never More is but one of many moments of brilliance when it comes to the keys on this album, with even a lead break here and there.

Elf was Ronnie’s first big break, but it didn’t make a huge impact in terms of sales. It is difficult to see why not, being quite relevant to the times and indicative of the direction that popular rock music would take for the next decade. However, its raw rocking sound would prove hugely influential and it is certainly no surprise that this band caught the attentions of guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore when he had begun to become disillusioned with his own band, Deep Purple. So not so humble beginnings for a metal legend then, it would seem. But a beginning it was nonetheless, and Elf were encouraged enough to continue rocking for another two albums as a band before a change was in order. Though it hasdated a fair bit, as a debut, Elf is an accessible but interesting record, more than just three-chord boogies but offering the listener something different than what they may expect, especially with Ronnie in mind. Probably only really for die hard fans of Dio and classic rock, but as it stands, Elf’s eponymous debut is a decent slab of rock and metal history that is well worth checking out.

To Be Continued In Part Two: Carolina County Ball...



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user ratings (29)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
LepreCon
July 1st 2010


4092 Comments


Posting in a LepreCon review

Maniac!
July 1st 2010


26250 Comments


godamn you Lep, I was gonna review this

Edit: good review btw.

Nagrarok
July 1st 2010


8245 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wait now, do I see a series of rock legends coming?

vanderb0b
July 1st 2010


3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review. Album is pretty cool, Never More is one of Dio's best.

LepreCon
July 1st 2010


4092 Comments


Thanks guys. Nag check back on some of my other reviews and you'll see the plot I am hatching!

Nagrarok
July 1st 2010


8245 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ah now I see. So I can expect more on Thin Lizzy as well?

LepreCon
July 1st 2010


4092 Comments


Most definitely, Phil doesn't get enough love here, and I probably won't start any more legends until I finish the ones I am currently on, but I get bored easily so we may see a few more this Summer indeed.

Dylan620
July 1st 2010


1015 Comments


You should do 13 more reviews today.

Nagrarok
July 1st 2010


8245 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Because you just turned 23, get it?

LepreCon
July 1st 2010


4092 Comments


Haha I might barely manage 13 reviews this year (although the next Elf review is coming soon)

PanasonicYouth
July 2nd 2010


7411 Comments


Ronald James Padavona- lead vocals and bass guitar


CALL HIM BY HIS REAL NAME DAMMIT

antiprog86
November 29th 2010


25 Comments


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LepreCon
November 30th 2010


4092 Comments


^ And the point you are trying to make is...?

MrSirLordGentleman
February 14th 2013


4403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Never More, one of the best songs Dio ever did

Digging: Nina Simone - Pastel Blues

manosg
May 28th 2013


6078 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed, Never More is an awesome song. Without Dio this album is average to good at most.

Digging: John Coltrane - Ballads



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