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CRUSHED VELVET & THE VELVETEERS
The Big One
Royal Family
Format: CD / LP / Digital
Release Date: May 24, 2011
By Dave Cantor June 28, 2011

So, the meta media circus has reached its pinnacle, now allowing only for inferior concepts to be levied on the listening public.┬áThere’ve been a handful of gangster-related releases seeking intellectual elevation of late. After gettin’ outta the clink, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy unloosed the stinker Ellsworth ‘Bumpy’ Johnson EP. If the album’s namesake was still kicking around, he’d surely pay for someone’s murder after hearing that abomination. Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers doesn’t warrant violence, but the effort put into creating some sort of narrative behind the album’s release could have been put to better use – like making the music more immediately engaging.

Supposedly, The Big One was a film completed back during the 1970s when America realized black folks buy movie tickets and constitute a significant market unto themselves. The film was accidentally destroyed and it’s director went into hiding as a result of police and governmental harassment. Of course, all the shadowy video-interviews in the world shouldn’t convince potential listeners of the story’s veracity, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. And while the movie remains lost to time, it’s soundtrack recorded by Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers was shuttled off to Alan Evans, Soulive’s drummer and the producer behind the disc’s reissue.

Evans and his group Soulive have been responsible for some of the better realized new soul-jazz, taking the organ trio format to the hippie masses during the latter portion of the 1990s and into the new millennium. While appreciated by the granola eating, sandal wearing crowd, Soulive wasn’t really embraced by snooty indie culture, even as the group could be understood as harbingers of all that Daptone success. Evans, who could be assumed guitarist in the Velveteers, now issues The Big One as an historical document, showing off Buffalo’s fictinoal funk and soul scene.

Over the disc’s 40-minute run time, which actually doesn’t feel like a soundtrack at all with song lengths pushing into the five minute mark on a regular basis, whoever the band comprises dishes out market grade grooves without so much as a misstep. Some might take issue with the vocal on “Felecia’s Love Theme” getting a bit too Philly-styled. But apart from that, the Velveteers prove themselves an amply funky unit. Regardless of how convincing this endeavor appears, picking up any of Soulive’s early-Blue Note releases might do a bit better, come off less contrived, and be more interesting than a psuedo-theatrical soundtrack.

Visit: Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers | Royal Family
Purchase: Insound | eMusic