29 June 2017
Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera - 1968 - Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
This one is definitely a funn one, although it runs very hot/cold on the spectrum of taste. Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera (I'm not typing all of that out again) walks along the razor blade between psychedelic pop and early heavy metal. The often fall off of it, but the do maintain their balance for some tunes as well.
So, the opening is like the open track of Sgt. Pepper's if that album had been made by Steppenwolf. This is not a compliment. But the track that the, uh, singer is introducing is actually pretty top notch. "Mother Writes" sort of falls backwards into punk rock too early in a charmingly Hawkwind-like manner. It takes until "Flames" for the band to light the afterburners again. Between that we get groovy psych tunes "Long Nights of Summer" and "Reflections of a Young Man," and several other tunes that don't really work so well. "Air" falls into the bin if sitar tunes that don't work. The hit rate stands solid through the rest of the album, with "Talk of the Devil" making the most impression with me. There are a slew of bonus tracks which I assume are singles, cover tunes, and a few things that sound like they were recorded sometime after the band was actually a going concern (my intuitive assumption). It's probably not essential for the 99% - as long as we allow that the 1% are all Elmer Gantry fans. "Raga" is exactly what it says - what the band Can would later refer to as 'an ethnological forgery." For some reason, "Eleanor Rigby" is now a heavy metal jam. That's probably worth hearing at least once for kitsch value if nothing else.
This album only has half an ass, but there are a few inspired moments scattered about. Again, "Mother Writes" will knock your bobby socks off. If it hasn't already made it to a Nuggets collection, it should have.