Friday, August 17, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 65 : Velvet Crush - In the Presence of Greatness

Album - In The Presence of Greatness
Artist - Velvet Crush
Key Players - Paul Chastain - bass+vocals, Jeffery Underhill - guitar, Ric Menck - drums, Matthew Sweet - guitars and harmony vocals.
Produced By - Velvet Crush and Matthew Sweet

Release Date October 18, 1991, the cd for this review has some bonus tracks via a re-issue in 2001.

What caused me to blow off the dust? - A buddy e-mailed me the other day "What is the Velvet Crush tune with all the great harmonies?" Thus the seed was planted. Oh, the song "Superstar" from this album.

Overview - This is the full length debut from Providence Rhode Islands Velvet Crush. After a series of shows the band was noticed by some folks in New York. Originally done on an 8 track recorder at Matthew Sweet's house in New Jersey it would garner the band a great opening tour slot on a Teenage Fanclub tour, thus the world or power pop rock was forever changed.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A slow build up to the wonderful opening guitar riff of "Window to the World" kicks things off. The pace of the song is a little on the slow slide, yet it bounces along nicely. A pop record for sure. No, not top 40 pop..just good pop rock. Why label it right? The guitar solo slides across the tambourine infused drum beat. "Drive Me Down" lulls the listener for the opening bars but then quickly clicks off (and kicks off) to a great example of their skill and sound. The ride cymbal gets a work out from Menck and his kit gets a good bashing to boot. Consistent on the entire record is a crisp and light guitar sound. Guitars only "crunch" when they need to, which is rare. Referring to the latter "Ash & Earth" is awash with Wah Wah guitars. "White Soul" follows suit, and by now new listeners of the band will get an idea of what the band is about. The track that got me in to the band, and which caused me to buy this album (twice) is "Superstar". Harmonies abound and its just a perfect track in so many ways. The drums are the stand out (as well as the vocals). I encourage you to check out this in the download section to "see for yourself". "Blind Faith" slows the pace down some, but the pure pop sound rings out. The vocal harmonies are again, in great form (notice a trend?). As Chastain sings "Faaaaaaaaaith" it just sounds so perfect. The guitars just wash over everything. "Speedway" opens with some great guitar riffs that open to the trademark 4/4 drum tempo. Chastain forces the chorus vocally, but it does not waver. "Stop" clocks in at just 2:20, and as you'd imagine gets to the point quick. It follows the same pattern of earlier tracks, not a throw away track by any means, but no new ground is tread. With a song having the name "Asshole" you'd figure it to be quick and angry. Its neither. Its a mellow track and is the longest on the record. "Die a Little Every Day" closes out the original version of the album. If you close your eyes you'd swear you hear Superdrag. It is easy to hear influences both past and present on this single track.

The cd being reviewed is the 2001 re-issue so it had a few extra tracks

"Circling the Sun" has the same feel, but is a little "cleaner" on the production side of things. Clacking of drum sticks count off "Everything Flows" with a false start. The guitar is layered on this track and the bass is slightly muffled underneath. "She Cracked" also opens with the drum stick count off, but the track really cooks along. Its got a very simple guitar riff that layers over the top. Easily the fastest track on this collection (bonus tracks or otherwise)

Where are they now? - The band has had a few ups and downs. Disbanded once in 1996 only to re-form in 1998. The bands last release was in 2004 and according to an entry on the bands myspace page they are currently on hiatus.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The only time I saw the band was in the summer of 1991. Boston rock club TT The Bear's
came up with a few days of shows called "Lollypops and Booze" Tour. (a spin off/gag of the popular Lollapalooza festival). Velvet Crush was opening for (a soon to be showcased FDF Band) Neds Atomic Dustbin. We were not sure what to make of Velvet Crush, but they won me over in the end with the great guitar pop and harmonies.

FDF Overall Take - Upon talking this walk down memory lane and looking for an image of the cover to use I realized the "original" version of this release I had on cassette tape (that is the image you see here). New listeners to the band may find it not so ground breaking, or original, but their influence on a lot of power pop bands can not be denied. They borrowed for the bands they loved, and others have followed suit. Check em out, you may like the idea that a band can rock, and that you can still understand what the singer is saying.


Official Site not too much here
The band on myspace

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***Mp3's have been removed Sept 27, 2007 1:30 ET****

Window to the World
Blind Faith

All the tracks were taken from In the Presence of Greatness which you can buy

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 10:53 PM, Anonymous bragginbilly said...

I recognize the name and the sound is that great 90's alt-rock sound I love so much. Strangely I don't recognize any of the songs.

Nice call with the Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Its a lock that I pull Are You Normal? and Godfodder out several times a year. Nothing gets things pumping like a bass guitar playing chords!


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