. . .
The Rose of Avalanche’s website calls them “the legendary alt/goth/rock band from Leeds, England” and since I really don’t remember anything at all about them, let’s go with that.
I do seem to recall that “Velveteen” was part of a self-titled compilation that we had at the radio station, and that I didn’t like any of the other songs on that compilation, but I could totally be making that up. Wikipedia tells me they had a spate of top ten indie singles in the U.K. in the mid-1980s and that they had the balls, temerity and sense of humour to name an album In Rock, and their website helpfully adds that they broke up in 1992 only to re-form 27 years later, only to lose a year to COVID, to which I can totally relate.
And then there’s “Velveteen,” which is definitely in the running for my all-time favorite goth song, though as you’ve probably noticed, goth isn’t a huge category for me, so if any of you goth fans out there think it’s just kinda pedestrian, that’s fine with me.
In any event, “Velveteen” opens with one of the big slow drum beats where there’s like five kickdrum beats for every snare beat, giving it the feeling of slowly being dragged forward. After a bit of build-up, a echoed, crawling guitar sidles in and sets up shop, playing hypnotic arpeggios over and over again. There’s also a synth atmospherically mewling in the background. This goes on for awhile, until vocalist Phil Morris swoops in to tell a tale of groupie woe.
She’s still playin’ in my head
Velveteen she’s not so dead
Hangin’ off my bedroom wall
She played those games for far too long
She loved those rock stars one by one
She gave them all she had to give
She saw them fall onto the floor
They left her there to weep some more
The cool thing about “Velveteen” is that after establishing its groove and its sound, it never really deviates, outside of adding more instruments to the mix. Meanwhile, the song has kinda turned into a revenge fantasy?
Velveteen, her heart’s so strong
Velveteen they love so long
She’s sure to live and die that way
But not until she’s played her games
A long-lost hot night in the sky
Around the world by night she’ll fly
A rock star’s death she does not mind
A lonely life is what you need tonight
Maybe. I never really paid attention to the words of “Velveteen,” outside of assuming that it had something to do with sex and death, as most great things do, and, anyways, my favorite part is when Morris ditches the words and just sings “a-hoo-hoo-hoo-huh-hoo-hoo-huh-hoo” over and over and over.
And so “Velveteen” builds and builds and builds, but never really breaks the tension it it’s built up. Which is kinda cool, come to think of it. Instead it just continues to corkscrew around itself until it finally ends.
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