Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera — “Long Nights of Summer”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 1, 2023

https://www.discogs.com/master/48963-Elmer-Gantrys-Velvet-Opera-Elmer-Gantrys-Velvet-Opera/image/SW1hZ2U6NjY3MTg5Mw==

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

688) Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera — “Long Nights of Summer”

Happy New Year everyone, and I hope I bring you Peace on Ear!

Here is a glorious and timeless cut from the Opera’s ’68 “minor masterpiece” of an album. (Jan Zarebski, https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/elmer-gantrys-velvet-opera) (see #375). It sounds like it could have been recorded in the ‘70’s, the 80’s . . .

As Jan Zarebski recounts:

[The EGVO — sounds like an olive oil] emerged from R&B/soul act The Five Proud Walkers after experiencing a conversion to psych following a support slot beneath Pink Floyd. Well… who wouldn’t? Their upbeat blend of the new scene with the primal beats of their earlier work got them noticed.”

https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/elmer-gantrys-velvet-opera

Marmalade Skies adds:

The band began to get quite a following and played clubs and university gigs all over the country and at London venues like the Marquee and 100 club and Electric garden. They would also occasionally play at the Speakeasy where Jimi Hendrix would jam with them . . . .

http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/elmer.htm

Zarebski goes on:

The urgent, brilliant Flames, which they cut as their first single, became a cult hit, and a fledgling Led Zeppelin incorporated the song into their act. Unfortunately, that was as close as [they] got to the big time, but their debut remains a rather superb slice of British psych-pop. . . . [I]t’s the group’s more general mastery of melody and rhythm that marks this album out. Rather like The Zombies and, more obviously, The Beatles, [they] found a tune wherever they looked, and the results stand up with much of the period because of that.

https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/elmer-gantrys-velvet-opera

Why didn’t they make it big? Jo-Ann Greene says that:

Although labeled a psychedelic band in their day, the Opera never sat comfortably in that strawberry field, partially because of the diversity of their sound, but also due to the simple fact they were just too far ahead of their time even for the psyched-out crowd. In fact, [the band] continued to sound thoroughly modern for decades, while their myriad musical meanderings took them down wayward byways that later became stylistic highways — at least in their native U.K. So it’s no surprise then, that this band would have slotted perfectly into the Britpop scene, or going back further in time, into the R&B-drenched mod scene.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/elmer-gantrys-velvet-opera-mn0000131151/biography)

Iván Melgar Morey agrees:

ELMER GANTRY’S VELVET OPERA, a very long name for a short living British band formed in 1967 during the peak of British Psychedelia, but despite their formation era, they were one of the most advanced bands from their era, blended with great respect R&B, Jazz Psychedelia a la early Pink Floyd and a touch of The Nice style . . . . Despite being a very good and incredibly advanced album for their era, never reached the popularity deserved, because it was too hard and eclectic for the average listener, but still remains as one of the most powerful and elaborate albums from the pre King Crimson Progressive Rock era.

http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=2503

Oh, and where did that name come from? Marmalade Skies clears it up:

Velvet Opera was chosen initially, which was amended to Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera within days after Dave [Terry] turned up to a session wearing a long black cape and a preachers hat and had to endure some piss-taking from the rest of the band (Elmer Gantry was the fictional hero of a Sinclair Lewis novel and 1960 film about a preacher). . . .

http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/elmer.htm

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