Velvett Fogg

In 1969 I started spinning platters at an Israeli Disco in Haifa. The place was known only as 120 after its number on Panorama Street on Mount Carmel. Actually it was quite popular and I was developing a reputation especially among the non-English speaking crowd. They would request a song like Okey-Pokey-Pokey and I would guess right away that they were asking for Funky, Funky Broadway.  Anyway, the owner had some rules about what I could and couldn’t play. Among the LP’s that I was not to play were Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland and Velvett Fogg. These two LP covers are what eventually got me into collecting LP’s with erotic covers. There was a time in the 90’s when I used to frequent Vinyl conventions looking for those kinds of covers. As is usually the case, imitators arose and prices went up.  The Hendrix LP is very celebrated in spite of the fact that the American release sported an extremely ugly sleeve. The English one had a gorgeous gatefold cover sporting a bunch of naked women perusing some of Jimi’s previous LP’s. That of course is the one to own if you’re getting back into vinyl.Velvett Fogg had a picture of the band and two topless women with partially painted torsos. That was enough to make want to own a copy. It was however also issued on the PYE label which I fancied very much. Additionally, when I did get to listen to it I was floored. The music is amazing and I wish there was more, but that and a single is their entire oeuvre. I did track down Paul Eastment, their guitar player to a band named The Ghost and another one named Virginia Tree. Couldn’t get my hands on the Virginia Tree though the one cut I heard was not bad. Both were one shot bands that put out one LP each before breaking up. After that, Frank Wilson, the keyboard player, replaced Rick Wakeman in a band called Warhorse. This band that included ex-Deep Puple bassist Nick Simper, put out two proto-metal LP’s that are still quite interesting. The Ghost was also quite interesting, but neither of them as exciting as Velvett Fogg. The original Velvett Fogg had included Tommy Iommy of Black Sabbath fame, but he had left the band by 1969 when they recorded their one and only album. I usually go to for album info, but this one baffled me. Richie Unterberger dismisses this one as run of the mill British psychedelia of the time. I have listened to a lot of other late 60’s stuff and can’t say that I heard anything similar. Actually, I still wonder about some of the sounds I hear on that album. The processing technology seems quite advanced for the period and I have a strong feeling that some electronic processing was performed on some of the tracks, especially on The Wizard of Gobsolod. Come Away Melinda has been covered many times including by bands such as Uriah Heep, but the Velvett’s has the hardest impact by far. Their cover of The New York Mining Disaster 1941 by the Bee-Gees is equally amazing so Unterberger, go flip a burger or something.

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