Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera

The Very Best of Elmer Gantry & Velvet Opera

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Twenty-three-song anthology, including much of their two albums, four previously unreleased tracks, and at least one single-only cut (the liner notes are disappointingly vague as to the sources of the material). It's the earlier stuff, by the Gantry-fronted lineup, that's best, even if its appeal will rest primarily with psychedelic collectors. "Long Nights of Summer," with its wistful Mellotron, sounds something like a soulful Moody Blues; "Reactions of a Young Man" is typical mod-psychedelia; "Flames" is the strongest relic of their soul roots, colored with enough storming guitar work to make it pass for psychedelia in 1967. And that's the main problem with Velvet Opera: resolutely trendy, they brought little personal vision to their psychedelic rock, especially after Gantry left. The last half of this CD sounds like it could be the work of several bands: a raga instrumental here, an instrumental version of "Eleanor Rigby" there, and even some bad blues-rock and country-rock.

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