Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera - Flames - Non-Album Tracks (1967-1970)

If you're into British classic rock, here's a band you should be aware of, if you don't know of them already: Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. In my opinion, they should be much better known than they are. Their song "Flames" in particular is a classic and has been covered by Led Zeppelin in concert and later by Robert Plant in his solo career. They only put out two albums. But they have enough stray tracks material for another album, which is presented here.

I suspect a big reason the band isn't better known is because they only put out two albums: "Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera" in 1967, and "Ride a Hustler's Dream" in 1969. Furthermore, there was a lot of change between their two albums. The band's lead singer had the name Dave Terry. But after this band started becoming successful, most people assumed he was Elmer Gantry (when in fact it was a reference from a Sinclair Lewis novel). He leaned into that and has his name legally changed. But after the first album, he left for a solo career. However, the band carried on quite well without him for their second album. I recommend both albums, especially the first one.

Two band members, Richard Hudson and John Ford, went on to join the Strawbs, They co-wrote the 1973 single "Part of the Union," which was a big hit in Britain. They later went on to form the duo Hudson Ford, and had another big single with "Pick Up the Pieces." Meanwhile, singer Elmer Gantry formed the band "Stretch" and had a hit single in 1975 with "Why Did You Do It." He also later sang lead vocals for the Alan Parsons Project.

Here's more info about the band, from their Wikipedia page:

Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera - Wikipedia

All the songs here have been officially released. Six of them are A- or B-sides, and another five were released years later as bonus tracks or on a box set. The first song is from an early version of the band and came out on a various artists compilation. 

There is just one song from a BBC session, which was later released as part of a box set: "All Along the Watchtower." This is because a plan another album just of BBC sessions. But this song was done twice, and both versions are interesting, so I thought I'd put one here in order to avoid having the same song appear twice on one album.

Note also that the version of "Flames" here is the demo version. There's  another version on the 1967 album "Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera," as well as a single version. The single version isn't that different from the album version. But this demo version is a bit more different, so I thought it was worthy of inclusion, especially since it's such a good song.

This album is 39 minutes long.

01 See Saw (Elmer Gantry & the Union)
02 Flames [Demo] (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
03 Salisbury Plain (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
04 All Along the Watchtower (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
05 Dreamy (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
06 To Be with You (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
07 And I Remember (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
08 Talk of the Devil (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
09 The Painter (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
10 Volcano (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
11 A Quick 'B' (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
12 She Keeps Giving Me These Feelings (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)
13 There's a Hole in My Pocket (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera)


There are very few color photos of this band. I've found a decent one which I chose to make the cover of the BBC compilation. So for this one, I had to use a black and white one. I jazzed it up by tinting it, then adding some flames at the top and bottom to fit with the album title.

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