Jim Ellis Unification LP (Thunderhead, 1978)
Welcome back to the world of the self-released record. Unlike the world of the major label (and even the indie), the only filter for the private pressing is the artist himself. The songs, production, record's artwork, everything is determined by the artist. What you get is pure. That purity can be insane, brilliant, total crap, boring, odd, or some combination of those qualities. Given the choice between checking out something by a name producer or an unknown self-released record, I will always go for the unvarnished vision.
Jim Ellis is a singer/songwriter from Knoxville, Tennessee. I am guessing that this is his first record. It has all the earmarks of a self released record: The graphic layout is crude, the studio where it was recorded is fronting as the record label, there is a big picture of himself on the back, he thanks the studio for "giving him technical assistance," and, the big giveaway, he makes absolutely clear in the credits that he is responsible for everything.
You are going to hear the best two songs on Unification. Both are his rock & roll side and are clearly influenced by glam. But unlike 99% of all glam bands, Jim Ellis is back by just a bongo player. The first song is a very earnest tribute to David Bowie, in which he cops a Mick Ronson guitar sound. The second song is his announcement that he is going to rock & roll (or in Jim's case Roc & Rol). After the singing, Ellis goes into a very nice, hypnotic instrumental part. What starts off as kind of dorky actually winds up being pretty great.
Since this record, Jim Ellis wrote the theme to the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati, a children's musical which appeared on PBS, and music for the '96 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Here are his roots.