By The Black Velvets
Those of you whose interest in the rock press goes no further than Kerrang! might be a bit surprised to learn this but there is actually quite a burgeoning sleaze/glam metal scene underground in the UK at present. The thing is, everyone was predicting after The Darkness went supernova by fusing the good-time rock'n'roll stylings of AC/DC and the Wildhearts (good) with the OTT bombast of Queen (bad) that a plethora of groups would surely follow them blinking into the sunlight and, perhaps surprisingly, it hasn't really happened. In a few cases, this is due to undeniably good bands just not getting the rub of the green they deserve (Antiproduct and Young Heart Attack to name but two) but in the main it's because, unlike the LA glam explosion of the '80s, a lot of the bands who've come through in the last couple of years haven't really had anything much to distinguish them from the pack.
The Black Velvets are a case in point - if you've read this week's NME you'll doubtless have seen this album given a serious critical kicking but the truth is it isn't actually that bad. It's got enough tunes to keep your toe tapping, some good guitar work and, if you squint a lot you could almost convince yourself that a trace of the mighty LA Guns' "girls, booze and good times" spirit lies herein.
So why the less than impressive review score then? Well, quite simply like a lot of bands before them, The Black Velvets just don't have an absolute stone-cold killer song to mark them out from a crowd of similar bands such as The Ga*Ga's, Tokyo Dragons and Hurricane Party. Possibly this is because, like the three aforementioned, they may be better live than on record or possibly they're still searching for their own identity. In the main though, this is reasonably solid rock'n'roll fodder (with the exception of the truly arse-clenchingly awful attempt at an "epic", "Lady Lime") but nothing more.
Ultimately, this is the sound of a band still finding their feet who, if they can maybe put a bit more of an individual stamp on their music, may just do themselves justice and pull off a better second album. After all, being damned with faint praise is surely the last thing any group of showmen would want.