THE ELECTRIC STARS
VELVET ELVIS - THE ONLY LOVER LEFT ALIVE - ALBUM REVIEW
Velvet Elvis – The only lover left alive.
The Electric stars latest release has exploded off the back of their incredible album Sonic Candy Soul which, hidden within its grooves begins to tell the story of an unhappy with life young man who dreams of bigger, brighter things, of singing, acting and performing like musical idols, The Stones, Bolan, Morrison and especially Elvis!
This young lad however doesn’t want to just be like Elvis and the others, oh no, an even more pumped-up version of these heroes with stars coming out of his eyes and psychodelia goodness pouring out of his soul! This lad wants it all, the sex, drugs and ROCK AND ROLL BABY!!
The character of Velvet Elvis was born in Sonic Candy Soul which introduces us to this young man’s journey of self-discovery. Through the wonders of storytelling and excellent song writing Jason Edge and the band draw the listener into a world of shimmering sparkles, glam rock hedonism and the metamorphism of the young man into something far, far more colourful which leads us nicely into the continuation with Velvet Elvis-The only lover left alive.
Concept albums these are not because you could lift any of the tracks from either album and they would stand up as great songs by themselves however both albums have traces of the storyline woven between them either subtly linking them with musical references or more obviously referencing the young man’s dreams and desires whichever way the two albums work seamlessly together.
The album Velvet Elvis – the only lover left alive had been penned soon after the initial album was released but with the band’s exciting climb to stardom offers of other work came in thick and fast and Velvet had to be placed on the back burner. When the lockdown hit in 2020 Jason had time to reflect on the more intricate details of the album and story. He had plans for the character and wanted to develop the listeners understanding of him. After an explanation to the band the guys got down to work to create the musical wonder which was to become this fantastic album (more on that later)
The band also needed to visually draw in the listener as well as musically, to that end Jason drafted in the artistic help of Ben Emery (Ben Emery art) for the front cover and Rik Bardsley from scootering for the inner images in the booklet and on the CD. They both managed to nail down what was in Jason’s head. After speaking to Ben he drew up some ideas and presented a rough draft to Jason who instantly loved it telling him to go no further as he had nailed the front cover in the first take! either Jason is very good at explaining his inner vision or Ben picked up on Jason’s otherworldly colourful nature either way the front cover for Velvet Elvis was born.
The inner imagery was sourced using a slightly different track. Jason wanted the idea of the young man’s mind in images. From the glam rock of the rock and roll lifestyle to the demons he faced in the downward spiral of drug and alcohol infused benders that rock and roll stars sometimes fall foul of. Step up Jason’s friend Rik Bardsley who would casually mention has a friend, a tattooist who’s shop resembled that of a museum of strange objet d’art. A visit to this odd emporium was on the cards and a day spent browsing through the weird and wonderful things adorning the walls, fixtures and fittings.
Jason wanted the feel of the young man’s seedy side of his persona and the artifacts around the rooms filled that desire perfectly. A quick photo session and the images are now used as part of the storytelling within the album.
So we have the character’s name, Velvet Elvis, the young man’s over blown version of himself and now we needed a title……The only lover left alive.
The name comes from a failed Rolling Stones documentary from the 60’s. The only lover left alive which was shelved along with other documentaries of the time. A name that truly befits the ego of the character in this second album.
So what’s the album actually like?
Well readers let me tell you this,
Velvet Elvis is more than just an album to play on a Sunday morning over brunch or background music played at a dinner party (however you could) it almost feels like you’re having a spiritual experience. I can honestly say this having had a few of these in my DJ’ing career. I can also say that if you were ever fans of the Manchester sound from back in the days pre-Pop idol and pampered musical princesses then this album, no, this band is definitely for you.
The opening track Velvet Elvis is so anthemic it will likely blow the roof off your house and your make your speakers woof with delight! Wonderfully produced and carefully written to reach a crescendo it exhausts you (in a good way) just listening to it and it’s only the intro!
Electric Stardust is next up, a fantastically up-tempo tune that will have you singing the chorus after the second time of listening, if you’re ever feeling down on the way to work bang this on you’ll be bouncing all day…..
A wonderful Indian interlude gives way to the epic Sunshine as the third track, guitar rock heaven, once again a lyrical masterpiece that’s easy to sing along to as well as finger pop your way down a broad walk on a summers evening, absolutely brilliant!
Pop star kicks like a mule. Grinding electric guitar goodness with psychedelic overtones bringing out the superb talents of Jason’s writing.
Suicide – This wonderful piece is truly heartfelt and in my view one of the best tracks on the album. Beautifully written this balled frames Jason’s vocal chords and is backed up with ingenious musical magnificence from the band, an incredibly moving song which shows the strength in the bands repertoire.
The sound of waves breaking against the shore introduces us to Everything Everyone, a mid-tempo piece again with catchy vocal licks and a quirky laid-back background.
Precious is up next and we are back up to the up-tempo Manchester sound that is The Electric Stars, undeniably catchy a brilliant reminiscence of good times had, sometimes its difficult to listen to the words when music is this good…….
The only Lover left alive, the title track of the album is pure late sixties/early seventies rock filth. An incredible onslaught of dance floor magic, an outstanding track that more shall we say established acts would love to play in their live sets. A true roof raiser, incredible.
With all great albums when you’ve built the listener up to a frenzy you have to give them time to sit, reflect and take in some of the magic, Loaded with regrets does that perfectly, a beautifully penned love song taking us on a journey through the pain of potential love lost. A poetic piece perfectly executed.
I left my soul out in the rain is so cleverly written, the story of our hero on the edge of peril. Is this the end of Velvet Elvis?
The penultimate track on the album We Love you rocks up and grabs you by the juicy bits, The Electric stars doing what they do best, full on cool, this penultimate track on the album shows the world that the band are one of the finest on the planet. Anthemic, crass and F’ing ACE!…..
Lastly Impossible odds is a true reflection of just how good this band are, moving from one genre to another on the album this mid-tempo piece brings Velvet Elvis The only lover left alive to a beautiful close. Bringing together Jason’s magnificent writing and the bands skilled craftsmanship it brings the story arch together in such a way that you are left wanting for more, the sign of a fantastic piece of work.
Velvet Elvis – the only lover left alive is a truly astonishing piece of work, it captures you from the opening note to the bittersweet end. I find it remarkable that a band of this calibre haven’t become huge in their time but there is still time. I for one am looking forward to seeing the meteoric rise of The Electric Stars when life gets back to normal, in the meantime I’ll have to make do with the gift of music they have given us. I beseech you, if you are going to buy one album this month make it this one, if you’re going to buy two buy Sonic Candy Soul. The Electric stars mantra is ‘Beautiful music for Beautiful people’, this album is just that, full of uplifting good for the soul music lightly dusted with cleverly written ballads all wrapped up in a blanket of psychedelic Manchester marvelousnous! If that’s not a word it is now, I think we all have a bit of Elvis in us, now where’s that hairbrush and mirror?....
Read our exclusive interview with the band’s lead singer Jason Edge HERE
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Album reviewed by Cris Davies 2021