Elysian Field

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Soul, Inc. was the standard-bearer of Louisville, perhaps even Midwest, rock during the latter half of the 1960s, with a sensationally gritty R&B-based sound that was only enhanced by the bandmembers'…
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Soul, Inc. was the standard-bearer of Louisville, perhaps even Midwest, rock during the latter half of the 1960s, with a sensationally gritty R&B-based sound that was only enhanced by the bandmembers' studio-musician virtuosity on their instruments. Guitarists Wayne Young and Frank Bugbee were just as revered locally as Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck were internationally; Marvin Maxwell could hold down a deep-pocket groove as well as Al Jackson, and bassist Jim Settle had a glorious, soul-coated throat that let fly granular vocals akin to Felix Cavaliere's. In early 1968, the band had a hit with "I Belong to Nobody," a song by Bugbee that featured a much more sophisticated pop sound than the band usually employed. By the spring of that year, Bugbee, Maxwell, and Settle left the band to form their own supergroup of sorts, christened Maxwell, Settle & Bugbee because they wanted to spend more time in the studio polishing their sound, while Young was more interested in playing live. The new band entered the studio almost immediately and emerged with the Settle/Bugbee composition "Kind of Man," which was released nationally as a single shortly thereafter by Imperial Records. While shopping for the record deal, the trio had begun playing gigs around Louisville, relying on their old Soul, Inc. repertoire. Settle left the band and was replaced by bassist/vocalist Gary Johnson who had been part of the popular Louisville band the Oxfords. Imperial Records asked the group to change its name, so they became Elysian Field, named after the mythological paradise. The band's sound was completely different from that of Soul, Inc., and they immediately gained local renown for their musical prowess. After the success of "Kind of Man," however, the record company wanted to mold Elysian Field into a more sophisticated pop/rock outfit. All but one of the demos they had submitted to the company were rejected, and in their place, Imperial Records sent down three other songs for the band to record, prompting Bugbee to exit the band. He was replaced by two guitarists, Mark Miceli and Dennis Ledford. By the time more recording sessions were held in early 1969, Settle had also returned to the band, and Bugbee served as the producer for the recordings, which were augmented by musicians from the Louisville Orchestra to provide the smooth pop sound. "24 Hours of Loneliness" was released as Elysian Field's second single, and shortly thereafter, Johnson was drafted and replaced by Denny Lile, with Ledford taking up bass duties to complete the best-remembered lineup of the band. This version of the band had plans contrary to those of its record label, though, and with Miceli's "I Hate You" and Ledford's "Mother Hate," they developed an aggressive, hard rock stance. The discrepancy between the band's live sound and their singles frustrated the members, so they headed into the studio again to capture the energy and tightness of their live show on their new material. Wayne Young returned to engineer the session, but Imperial Records wasn't interested in the new direction Elysian Field was taking and canceled their contract. They auditioned for Capitol Records, but nothing came of it, prompting Miceli and Ledford to leave in late 1970. Bassist Rudy Helm joined, and Elysian Field carried on as a four-piece until Lile left in 1971 to start his own band, Otis, with Helm joining Ledford and Miceli in Jake. Still, a few months later, Maxwell, Settle, Miceli, Helm, and Steve McNicol, formerly of the Rugbys, entered the studio to record again, but the songs were not picked up and Elysian Field was officially put to rest.