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Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera
Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera


David "Elmer" Gantry: Vocals, Guitar
Colin Forster: Guitar
John Ford: Bass
Richard Hudson: Drums

   Known originally as Five Proud Walkers, Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera was formed in Conventry, England in 1967. They changed there name after a BBC radio audition for John Peel's Top Gear show. Vocalist David Terry originally changed his name to Elmer Gantry. The group, with barely three months of gigging to their name, had developed a strong live act and gained a strong following. After cutting a demo for Decca's Mickie Most, but with no luck, it was with with the contacts made by the group whilst doing session work that led them to the Direction label's attention. They were then immediately sent into the recording studio in September 1967 to record what became their first single, Flames/Salisbury Plain. Released the next month, it wasn't a huge chart success, but the single did attract enough attention with the radio DJ's (John Peel, Stuart Henry) and sold enough copies for the band to be hurried into the studio once again to record a whole LP! Their self titled debut was released in December 1967 and features a combination of Mowtown soul with Beatlesque Psych Pop with some eastern and more hard rock influences thrown in. The result is a very interesting album, though at times the band sounds a little uncomfortable at the musical style they were playing. Nevertheless, the rockin' Intro leads into the strong rocking pop of Mother Writes and then a song that would be re-recorded and released as a single in 1968, Mary Jane. The almost completely instrumental Walter Sly Meets Bill Bailey raffia's cries out proto-metal, and for being 1967... I think it's definitely worth a listen. A couple true psych classics wrap up the album, Dream Starts, complete with it's distorted vocals and eerie atmosphere (reminds me of the Family track Voyage) and Now She's Gone. Maybe with a little more time to their name, their debut could have been up there with the likes of The Family's, Tomorrow's & Blossom Toes. 1968 was not productive with vocalist David "Elmer" Gantry leaving the group due to the touring strains and to pursue a solo career. Followed by guitarist Forster the group recruited new members Paul Brett and Johnny Joyce and continued as the Velvet Opera and released another LP in 1969 on the CBS label called Ride A Hustler's Dream but only succeeded in alienating their fans. The group called it quits and the rhythm section of Hudson and Ford went on to join forces with the folk/progressive rockers The Strawbs.

 Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera The original foursome
 Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera The revised lineup
 Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera The Velvet Opera 1968
 Featured Albums
Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera
Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera
Released December 1967; Direction 8-63300

Intro (Gantry)
2 Mother Writes (Ford)
3 Mary Jane (Gantry/Ford)
4 I Was Cool (Brown Jr.)
5 Walter Sly Meets Bill Bailey (Ford/Forster/Cannon)
6 Air (Forster/Gantry)
7 Lookin' For A Happy Life (Forster/Hudson)
8 Flames (Terry)
9 What's The Point Of Leaving (Gantry/Ford)
10 Long Nights Of Summer (Gantry)
11 Dream Starts (Ford/Hudson)
12 Reaction Of A Young Man (Gantry/Ford)
13 Now She's Gone (Gantry/Ford)


Flames/Salisbury Plain
1967 - Direction 58-3083

Mary Jane/Dreamy dutch picture sleeve
Mary Jane/Dreamy
1968 - Direction 58-3481

Volcano/A Quick 'B'
1969 - Direction 58-3924