Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Velvet Elvis - s/t (Enigma, 1988)

Somewhere in an obscure corner at a Tidewater Virginia-area thrift store, a dusty copy of this modern rock shaving from BACK IN THE DAY (TM) is marked by a two-dollar price tag and an old Post-it Note from an ahead-of-the-curve WODU disc jockey. Pop-packed sounds from the Lexington, KY, combo would've paced five-on-four power plays during hallway hockey battles inside the dormitories of the Hampton Blvd.-based campus. On second thought, maybe the above scenario is merely a product of collegiate utopias seen on episodes of "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "21 Jump Street." Like other releases I've discussed on Da Sheetz, I used to spot Velvet Elvis' self-titled selection in bargain bins at Tracks, Mother's and Volume CD Exchange with regularity throughout the 1990s. Don't know why I consistently passed on the offering, for it would've been a minimal risk to snag a cheap cassette version for my ever-growing archives. At FYE's 40% off liquidation sale about a month ago, VE presented itself in front of the assorted "V" section. Though the adjusted cost rang up at $2.40 before sales tax, I experienced the usual hesitancy surrounding the disc. Fortunately, a longtime FYE employee (and a personal friend) was able to squash my indecisiveness once and for all. Melissa had owned a Velvet Elvis 7-inch single, thus she was comfortable with describing their M.O. and recommending the purchase. I had entered the former Planet Music that Sunday afternoon with the goal of obtaining Hoodoo Gurus' Purity Of Essence and The Smithereens' 2011 at a cut rate. Who knew that the third choice in the bag would become my favorite one of the trio?

Befitting the biggest Cadbury egg in producer Mitch Easter's basket, "Take It If You Want It" is filled with the familiar jangle-folk yolk of earlier treats. The sugary sweetness of its chocolate shell, however, fails to enrich a belated Valentine's Day gift ("I'd give you my heart, but you'd only laugh"). A make-up present of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' Playback box set stomps all over the thoughtless candy container from Walgreens. Should you and yours become displaced at a packed-to-the-rafters TP gig, key lines in "I Got Everything" will prove helpful in the reunion ("If I should see you in a crowd/Don't be afraid to cry out loud"). Your girlfriend's "Ambition" is driven by the type-A personalities projecting from her Toyota's tape deck (The Plimsouls and The Replacements, in this case). By comparison, getting up to rewind side-A of Pleased To Meet Me is a lofty achievement for you ("I feel so big when I'm standing tall/One look at you, and I'm really small"). It's a "Privilege" to be reminded of the killer hook from The Rolling Stones' "She's So Cold," but painful reflections from pointed arguments jab between the sheets ("As you reach to turn the light above your bed/You take a look upon the things you said"). The CB transmission on "Over And Out" signs off with a big 10-4 on the relationship, though it suggests another mode of communication for further talks ("All that you'd hoped for means nothing to us now/Call when you know more").

These days, Elvis impersonators are all velvet ropes and posture. I don't know about you, but I prefer to kick back and relax with the album reviewed above. Oops! I just spilled a tall glass of iced tea.

-Gunther 8544


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