All You Can Eat – The Recipe
Harmonized Records 015
The Recipe, a West Virginia collective, uses elements of bluegrass as both a
base and launching pad for a thoroughly engaging live disc that thrives on
an overwhelming good time spirit. Think neo-hippie hoe-down more than
technically perfected picking. The six musicians aren't schleps by any means
but realize that – particularly in a live setting – their brand of music is
meant to move bodies rather than stroke cerebrums.
Like Old & In the Way, The Recipe proves that a group need not grow up with
the bluegrass tradition to help add to it. "Playing in My Dreams (Davies
Jubilee Chapter 3)" opens the disc with a fairly typical rapid and intricate
intro but, when singer Julie Edlow enters the fray, it's easy to realize
band is adding new elements to the tested sound. Namely, she attacks the
song like a rocker. Nothing high, lonesome or disconnected about the way she
fits her powerful pipes into the mix. Same goes for Joe Prichard who, in
addition to his guitar and banjo work, adds earthy vocals to many of the
tracks. "Breaking Out," in which the rhythm section buoys the kinetic speed
of the strings, shows that Prichard would also make a fine singer in either
country or Southern rock bands.
The bluegrass-tinged material may dominate the majority of the hour-plus
but there are some interesting detours.
At 12:34, "The Seed," is an anomaly and a treat. The band shifts gears to
proto-psychedelic rock and could easily pass as the Jefferson Airplane at
their best. The vocal harmonies between Prichard and Edlow have an uncanny
resemblance to those of Marty Balin and Grace Slick in the vintage years.
Depending on your taste, "The Seed" might be the standout track.
The silly-named "Playground Belly-flop" would appear to be a centerpiece at
nearly 17 minutes but quickly turns into a percussion workout between Gregg
Lowley and Tom Whelan. Extremely reminiscent of Mickey Hart/Billy Kreutzmann
battles before they busted out the toys, it devolves into a bass solo, which
have best been done without — at least on the disc.
The Recipe aren't reinventing anything but they're having a really good time
and project a hearty spirit that's hard to resist. Few concert albums
translate the energy of a show into a worthwhile and complete listen.
You Can Eat is filled with such energy.