26 May 2011

Black Velvet - Clown/ Peace and Love Is The Message

Black Velvet - Peace and Love/ Clown

Label: Beacon
Year of Release: 1969

Right at the start of this year I uploaded a couple of Black Velvet singles - including the astounding "African Velvet" - and announced that I'd drawn a total blank on the band.  I asked for more information, but the only answer I've received so far is from the DJ Pete Jennings who declared them to be a brilliant live act.  Nobody else came forward, and thus they remain an elusive act despite the fact that a number of records of theirs were issued.

This particular one is perhaps the most unusual of them all.  The A-side "Peace and Love Is The Message" is a decent enough slab of hippy-infused soul, the type of which was cropping up regularly towards the tail end of the decade.  It's the flip which is beginning to attract attention for its warped and peculiar tones, however.  "Clown" is a shimmering, discordant piece of psychedelia with demonic laughter, swirling organs, out-of-tune whistling, and descriptions of a "happy, smiling" clown I never want to meet in my life.  Chipper and cheerful in the way that Alexei Sayle was in the introductory sequence for his "Merry Go Round" series, "Clown" is black-streaked psych with a smile on its chops and evil in its heart, more Papa Lazarou than Ronald McDonald (although it's a fine line).

And come on, somebody out there must know who this lot were and what became of them.


Anonymous said...

Black Velvet were 4 black guys. Peter Nelson on the organ, Brian Clark vocals, but I don't know the names of the other two. A picture of the band, looking like Sly & Family Stone-imposters, can be found on the inlay-sheet of Incredible Soundshow Stories Vol.16 (LP). They had 5 singles and an LP on Beacon, 2 singles and an LP on Pye, and 2 singles and an LP on Seven Sun between 69 and 73, all released in UK. Some of the earlier 7"s were licenced to Buddah in USA and Ember in Australia. That's all I know, hope it helps.Lolly Pope (spurensicherung.blogspot.com)

23 Daves said...

Brilliant! Thanks for all the information, Lolly - I've been after an explanation of who they were and what they did for some time now, and didn't have access to that album.

fairydust said...

I'm pleased to give you some more information:
they started as the coloured raisins in London '66.BRANDIS vcls(a.k.a. Brian Clarke /Clark),DAVID & KEITH GAMPORT gtrs,PETER NELSON org & LONDON STEEL dr all came from the west indies & enlarged their line-up to an 8 piece.
With the help of HONEY DARLING, KING OSSIE & EARL GREENE vcls & under different names such as The coloured raisins w. King Ossie Show & Honey Darling they re- portedly became 1 of the most booked up London outfits during '67/68.
Anyway, by autumn '67 they had shortened their name just to the
raisins & finally became Black Velvet in June '69.
However, they still released records under the coloured raisins moniker & also occasionally teamed up w. a guy called RAM JAM HOLDER.
O.K., just in case you wonder, I'm no eyewitness but only a turned on librarian who understands his profession well enough to provide you with this facts by consulting the aforementioned extraordinary 'Another taste of forbidden fruit' CD...

fairydust said...

Nota bene one correction, please: I'm
female, so it must be 'a turned on
librarian who understands her profession well', of course...

23 Daves said...

Thanks so much for all the added information, fairydust, both on this and other entries - it's really invaluable stuff!

denisemc said...

Just want to thank everyone for sharing this information. It is so valuable to me.

Would anyone know where its possible to get hold of a picture of the band, please?

23 Daves said...

Somebody was kind enough to post a photo of Black Velvet to our Facebook Group - if you look at Sharon Reichter's comments on the right hand side, you'll see it:


denisemc said...

Brilliant!!! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Lyndon Steele was on drums, he`s my dad I am seriously proud of him..they were cool bands.

Denisemc said...

@ Anonymous

Hi, I've actually connected with your Dad on Facebook. It's such a shame there's not much documented information on the band.

I believe Lyndon still plays a lil' bit?