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Albums Of The Week: Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera | Long Nights of Summer: The Anthology

A long-lost underground band from the ’60s finally get some time in the spotlight.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In the spring of 1967, London Mod/Soul act The Five Proud Walkers staged a musical volte-face after supporting underground sensations The Pink Floyd. They duly re-emerged that summer as irrepressible psychedelic adventurers Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera, making an immediate splash with debut single Flames, which appeared on popular CBS label sampler The Rock Machine Turns You On and was added to the set-list of many young British bands — including the embryonic Led Zeppelin.

Flames was sufficiently successful to justify a debut LP, a strikingly original offering that remains one of the freshest, most consistently entertaining albums to emerge from the British psychedelic scene.

Charismatic frontman Dave Terry (aka Elmer Gantry) and guitarist Colin Forster then left, with rhythm section John Ford and Richard Hudson joined by singer Johnny Joyce and guitarist Paul Brett for a second Velvet Opera album, the more folk/blues-oriented Ride A Hustler’s Dream.

The band split in early 1970 when the Hudson-Ford partnership joined  Strawbs, although original guitarist Forster briefly revived the name later that year for a one-off single with his former Tintern Abbey colleague David MacTavish.

The first-ever complete Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera anthology, Long Nights Of Summer naturally includes both albums as well as a U.S. promo-only mono mix of that incendiary debut LP that now makes its first-ever CD appearance.

Also including numerous studio outtakes, demo versions, non-LP singles and a revelatory 50 minutes of BBC Session tracks (the bulk of which have never been released before), Long Nights Of Summer features a new 6,000-word essay on the band and many rare images. It’s the final word on a legendary late ’60s British underground band.”