It might be worth remembering that once upon a time there
was no rock (correct pronunciation: raw-KKK). There was actually a time Before
Rock, and that time wasn’t all that long ago relativity speaking. A touch further
back through the ages and there was also a time Before Denim (stonewash or otherwise).
Of course there’s been cocksure one-track testosterone-driven male chest-beating
since the dawn of time, or since Adam picked up the scent at least. But we and
our children – and their children and their grandchildren etc. etc. – are destined
to sit through all three simultaneously on a continuous cycle about every 15 years
or so, just long enough for the last generation’s embarrassments to be lost in
Whatever the current revival is based upon – kitsch
nostalgia, suppressed extroversion, pyromaniac tendencies – few can deny that
as a genre its foundations are far from assured. It’s like millions were caught
off-guard laughing politely at a non-PC joke and can do little else now than take
comfort in each others’ actions and/or insist they were being ironic all along.
Apart from A&R men of course – they have no shame and damnit, there’s money to
be made here, kiddo! So the Black Velvets arrive in the first wave of reactionary
signings off the back of The Darkness’ ludicrous success. Two reactions, initially.
Fuck me, they do what it says on the boulder (pronunciation, of course: raw-KKK)
don’t they. And fuck me, aren’t they dead British.
As British as pasty
white legs and chips wrapped in last night’s Evening Post. And that’s not just
for their quasi-religious primal devotion to riff. It’s especially for the fact
that singer Paul Carden’s vocal chords can be found proudly nestled amid the woodchip
lying figuratively beneath the collective larynx of Noddy Holder, Paul Rogers
and (yikes!) Joe Elliot. This may sound like some long-neglected horror b-movie
concept, and taken in isolation probably is, but here it seems strangely rousing
and appropriate. Pompous and gruffly stylized too of course, but importantly we
don’t want to voodoo-doll his head off like we do with Kelly Jones.
it fits so well to is unpretentiously grubby 70s rock with a fat glam injection.
And its balls out (we did mention the testosterone-driven male chest-beating).
It’s just tentative, baby steps really, but they’ve got swagger too. And while
they hardly take the scenic route – most of the set’s like ‘Spread Your Love’
rolled in tar with a cruchy grit filling – they take it for a fair spin. There’s
one track that cops the riff from The Seahorses’ ‘Love Is The Law’, which is unfortunate,
but they claw some ground back by making it seem Jimmy Page’s influence fell asleep
on its journey to John Squire’s fingers and missed its stop. The single ‘Get On
Your Life’ stands pretty tall amid its company, a glorious romp through T-Rex’s
steelier moments on overdrive, but its not completely alone.
rock the British way, without the accessories The Darkness drown themselves in.
And if there is to be rock forever, as it would seem destiny is to have it, it’s
nice to know there might be some ripple of good taste amid the mass of historical
artifacts, sew on patches and uniformly larger right biceps.
James Berry for Crud Magazine 2004©
October - December 2004- News Archive