Are you a sleeve-thumbing album snob? Are you at this very instant, hurtling through all the LPs in the rack marked "Groups'7 pausing only to gloat over American imports, and rejecting lesser-known British efforts with an oath? Velvet Opera are a lesser-known British group.
Nobody would hail them as a "super group" yet, and they aren't releasing a double album in a platinum sleeve designed to reap them a billion dollars and are the praise of the Underground scene-whoever they are. Velvet Opera are the kind of group that make up the backbone of the British band scene. They maintain the high standards of a singularly competitive field, which, in recent years has produced some of the most exciting and rewarding music this side of 1900.
They are concerned with music and with getting ahead of the competition. They have worked extremelyhard on producing an album that entertains and allows them full rein to play the kind of things THEY enjoy. It is my opinion they achieve both aims. Originally the band were featured as Elmer Gantry and the Velvet Opera, and released a successful album under this name last year.
Now Elmer has left them over a disagreement on musical policy and this is the group's first recorded indication of the direction they wish to take on their own. Between Johnny Joyce (lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Paul Brett (lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), John Ford (bass) and Richard Hudson (drums, sitar and tabla), they have a tremendous store of musical ammunition.They manage to cover an enormous amoun of territory, from country style/to blues rock and ragas.
Yet strangely, each trad flows into the other without too mucf adjustment of ear drums being necessaryIt shows how much our appreciation o different styles has been widened over the years by the efforts of band like the OperaListening to the high humour and energy o "Raga (And Lime)" it is obvious they mear everything they play. "Eleanor Rigby" is thei major tour de force.
I thought it was c number relatively played out over the years but the Opera work up a new excitemen over those dramatic, mood chordsParticularly impressive here is the speed drumming of Richard Hudson and the powerful guitars of John and Paul. Much of the material is self-written however and thi is always vital to establishing a truly origina sound and making a real contribution to modern group music.
"Supergroup... underground"? Perhaps not, but how man of those people are REALLY together when you analyse a lot of the product under this banner? Velvet Opera are more together than most. This album contains lots of good things. So don't be an album snob and point this one at the deck.
by Chris Welch
1. Ride A Hustler's Dream (Brett) - 0:57
2. Statesboro Blues (Mctell, Arr. Velvet Opera) - 3:39
3. Money By (Brett, Hudson, Ford, Joyce) - 3:56
4. Black Jack Davy (Ford) - 3:35
5. Raise The Light (Hudson, Brett) - 4:09
6. Raga (Hudson) - 5:29
7. Anna Dance Square (Brett, Ford) - 3:01
8. Depression (Ford) - 4:01
9. Don't You Realize (Brett, Hudson, Ford, Joyce) - 3:37
10. Warm Day In July (Brett) - 5:06
11. Eleanor Rig by (Lennon, McCartney) - 5:54
12. She Keeps Giving Me These Feelings (McTavish) - 2:39
13. There's A Hole In My Pocket (McTavish) - 3:45
* Paul Brett - Lead Guitar, Vocals
* Richard Hudson - Drums
* John Joyce - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
* John Ford - Bass
Paul Brett's Sage 1970 (Japan Remaster)