Red Rhodes – Velvet Hammer In a Cowboy Band (CS-102) (1973)

As with cigarettes, whiskey, coffee and pumpernickel bread there’s something at first off-putting but ultimately compelling and satisfying about this instrumental record by pedal steel session guy Red Rhodes. From the beautifully shot, dynamically balanced and deliberately banal cover photograph by 70s lensman du jour Norman Seeff, Velvet Hammer is an unlikely record—kind of country, kind of jazz, kind of lounge—that puzzled even the players: “We didn’t know what we were doing when we made this album,” defiantly announces piano player David Barry on the back cover’s witty liner notes. He goes on, “We played together until we had what we wanted on tape or decided to try another song. We got confused, silly, drunk, depressed, high, mad, straight, stoned and joyful and it’s all on the record.” The fact that it was produced by Monkees’ oddball and proto-country rocker Mike Nesmith (and was released through Countryside, his vanity label) makes sense. Everyone I’ve played this record to has reacted the same way: first bemusement and then enthusiasm.

Picked up at the boot fair on Hythe Green, it’s the kind of record that makes crate-digging fun.

Published in: on November 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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