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Larry Rust & the Elvin Tongue Band - Larry Rust & the Elvin Tongue Band (LP)

Larry Rust & the Elvin Tongue Band - Larry Rust & the Elvin Tongue Band (LP)

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Genre: pop
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Larry Rust with the Elvin Tongue Band
Company: Cindy
Catalog: 000056
Year: 1977
Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record): NM / NM
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 12232
Price: $50.00

So here's an obscurity that I know was written and released as a tax scam album. How do I know that for certain ? Well, namesake Larry Rust told me so.

"If I remember right, [producer] Frank [Cook] was hooked up with some Beverly Hills accountant that was doing the write-off records. I think the investors were putting up around $15,000 per album. They [the producers] spent about $5,000 to produce [an album] and kept the balance. I think I heard the that the investors got a $250,000 write off as if they spent that much to promote and produce the album. And as you said on your website, during that time period there were a lot of tax scam releases happening. I was told that even major labels signed people who they never intended to succeed just for the write off.".

Unlike a lot of tax scam entities, Rust and company apparently started out as a true touring band as opposed to a group of studio pros. Elvin Tongue (the name being a nod to J.R. Tolkin) made some early '70s noises playing in Wet Virginia and Ohio with a line-up that included Rust on keyboards, Amos Chip on bass, Jerry Earnest and Steve Heglar on lead guitar and Scott Stinson on drums. Migrating to Southern California, they moved into studio work, somehow coming to the attention of Canned Heat drummer Frank Cook who began using them on some of his outside projects, including various tax scam entities such as the Hollywood project.

Recorded in Hollywood's Star Track Studios with Frank Cook producing, 1977's "Larry Rust with the Elvin Tongue Band" probably won't know your socks off, but given it's music-as-a-business roots, Rust and company deserved some kudos for turning in a project that actually had a touch of soul and integrity. At least part of that may have stemmed from the fact the album reflected eight previously written Rust originals. In other words, Rust and company had the luxury of bringing their best material to the studio. Musically the set was quite diverse, almost sounding like a demo tape that was intended to showcase their musical breadth and versatility. Over the course of the eight tracks you got dollops of Allman Brothers blues rock (the hideously titled 'Loving You (Is Like Dragging a Dead Dog Out of the Street'), top-40 pop ('Won't You Stay Here for the Night'), and even a progressive instrumental ('Symphony for Tomorrow'). The constant shifting made for an entertaining set, but it came at the expense of originality.

- Hearing the power ballad 'Understanding' for the first time, I remember wondering it I'd mistakenly slapped a Meat Loaf album on my turntable by mistake. Like those classic Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf compositions (think along the lines of 'Paradise By the Dashboard Light'), this one featured an over-the-top arrangement complete with Rust's angst-filled vocals and an engaging start-and-stop arrangement. Cool lead guitar too boot. rating: *** stars
- 'Won't You Stay Here for the Night' was another ballad, but thankfully avoided Meat Loaf-styled pretense in favor of a much prettier melody. The song highlight was actually the bell-like lead guitar effects. rating: *** stars
- Stating the obvious, 'Loving You (Is Like Dragging a Dead Dog Out of the Street); managed to sport one of the worst song titles known to mankind ... Musically the song found Rust and company changing gears; this time turning in an Allman Brothers-styled blues rocker. Built around a standard blues-rock progression and some surprisingly funny lyrics, Steve Heglar's slide guitar work provided the song's secret weapon. rating: **** stars
- 'Is It Wrong To Love' found the band dipping their collective toes into lite-progressive territory. Yes, this was more Kansas than Yes, but I'll admit that Rust's synthesizer arsenal and the dit-da-de-da choruses caught my ear. rating: **** stars
- 'Symphony for Tomorrow' opened side two with an out-and-out progressive instrumental. Not my favorite musical genre, but this one had a pretty melody and some nice synthesizer and lead guitar interfaces. rating: *** stars
- Probably just my beat ears, but 'Here Today and Gone Tomorrow' has always reminded me on an early Billy Joel performance. The keyboard heavy song structure; catchy melody, earnest lyrics and shining group harmonies all underscored the comparison. 'Course if the thought of hearing a Billy Joel song makes you nauseous, this one won't do much for you. rating: *** stars
- 'Hound Dog Blue' found Rust trying on his best Leon Russell impression. Wrapped in a likable rock arrangement, Rust's slinky Russell-styled vocal was actually quite impressive. The song also boasted one of the album's best guitar solos. rating: *** stars
- Complete with a catchy melody and sappy lyrics, 'Song for a Friend' was a top-40 friendly pop ballad and served as the album's most commercial offering, rating: **** stars

And what did Rust think about the album ? "I liked the songs, even though it was some of my earlier stuff, but I hated the production they did... the mix to me did not sound right sonically."

Elsewhere, someone involved with the project apparently had a wicked sense of humor - note the strategically placed neon sign on the right side of the front cover; the album catalog number ...
"Larry Rust with the Elvin Tongue Band" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Understanding (Larry Rust) - 3:42
2.) Won't You Stay Here for the Night (Larry Rust) - 3:00
3.) Loving You (Is Like Dragging a Dead Dog Out of the Street) (Larry Rust) - 4:07
4.) Is It Wrong To Love (Larry Rust) - 6:24

(side 2)
1.) Symphony for Tomorrow (instrumental) (Larry Rust) - 4:47
2.) Here Today and Gone Tomorrow (Larry Rust) - 3:06
3.) Hound Dog Blue (Larry Rust) - 2:56
4.) Song for a Friend (Larry Rust) - 3:13

For anyone interested, Rust has a website at:
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