Velvet Crush Rock Concert

Velvet Crush's brush with greatness came quite a few years ago, with the release of their wonderful album Teenage Symphonies To God. At around that time, they were playing gigs wherever they could, even to just a handful of people. And while they never quite managed to reach those giddy heights again, they were fortunate this high spot of their career was recorded for posterity's sake. The show presented on Rock Concert was recorded in Chicago in early 1995. Not surprisingly, most of the material comes from the aforementioned record, with a couple of songs from the band's debut and a cover of 20/20's "Remember The Lighting" thrown in for good measure. The involvement of Matthew Sweet (in additional tape preparation) isn't a huge surprise - not only did he help produce some of the band's early work, but there is also a certain similarity between their styles. Both create harmony-laden power-pop that values melody above all else, and when the two work together, you just know that something wonderful is going to happen. A more surprising collaborator is Tommy Keene, who was playing guitar with the band on this particular tour; he doesn't really add anything out of the ordinary and blends in with the existing trio with ease. To be perfectly honest, there isn't really any radical differences between the live and studio versions of the songs - the occasional extended guitar workout, some between song banter and that's about it - but that doesn't lessen the persuasiveness of the music in any way. There's something kind of refreshing about rediscovering these songs after a half-dozen years; they still sound remarkably fresh but it does make me wish that Velvet Crush could somehow recapture some of the magic from this era again with some new material. (Parasol)