It’s another of those beautiful moments when the very fine people at Omnivore Recordings unleash another labor of love, because that’s what they do – everything they release has a personal touch and meaning. And I’m not going to bullshit you – I loved Velvet Crush. They had that thing – you know, the power-pop drive that’s sustained me for most of my musical life. They wrote and executed great songs; were a powerhouse live, sounded great and they did one of the pivotal albums of the ugly ’90’s, the classic Teenage Symphonies To God (you know the origin of the title; I’m not going to get cutesy here).
This release from Omnivore is the genesis of that album – Pre-Teen Symphonies. And it’s a wonderful companion piece to the “actual” article. 16 tracks total – 8 demos for the album and 8 live performances. And those demos sound just as explosive as the released versions – in some cases, maybe a bit livelier. Case and point, the classic “Hold Me Up” is beefy and punchy and has even more muscle than the more familiar version with some fiery guitar; “Time Wraps Around You” is warm and shimmering with the equal balance between the electric and acoustic guitars (those background harmonies are heavenly) – and it should be noted that Ric Menck’s drums explode with an even bigger throttle as Paul Chastain’s bass is deeper and richer. “This Life Is Killing Me” is a runaway train and in this case, I think I may actually give the nod to the demo version.
Nonetheless, it’s a magnificent gathering of material and makes you appreciate the band even more. With liner notes from wonder-drummer Ric Menck and (of course) co-produced by the one and only Mitch Easter, this is more than one could hope for and all you can ask for. After all, this was the “little band that could from Providence, Rhode Island”.
Pre-Teen Symphonies is available now