Friday, September 25, 2009

Velvert Turner

All Music Guide Review by Sean Westergaard

Velvert Turner was apparently a friend of Jimi Hendrix's, and the Hendrix vibe on the album Velvert Turner Group is almost overpowering, right down to the fish-eye photo on the back cover. Turner's got great guitar tone and a playing style quite similar to Jimi. The songs are also similar to later-period Hendrix, circa First Rays of the New Rising Sun, but with some keyboards added. In fact, "Three O'Clock Train" starts out with a riff very close to "Izabella," then sounds more like "51st Anniversary" in the body of the tune. The really shocking thing, though, is how much Turner's voice sounds like Jimi. It's jarring, right down to the same vocal inflections. But it doesn't sound like imitation, it just sounds like they came from the same places. The songs are good, although not the equal of Hendrix's, but some of the guitar playing is great, with some good feedback and panning effects to boot. It's certainly derivative, but Jimi left so few official albums that this will be a welcome sound to Hendrix fans.

From Chris Robinson:

I met Velvert at the Stable Inn on Barrow St in the Village, an after- hours hang out w/ food and a juke box. My friend Ronnie Romano knew Velvert, and knew he was looking for a keyboard player for his LA group, so Ronnie hooked us up. Always a man of style, Velvert had his rented stretch limo whisk us away to his hotel across from Madison Square Garden, where we talked all night.

A week later producer Tom Wilson was picking me up at LAX....... Hollywood!, DA DA DA DA DA DA DA, Hollywood!..... A clever, witty young man was Velvert. He hung out for years with Jimi Hendrix, both before and after Jimi made it big---Velvert was his musical protégé, side-kick, and 'little brother'. I guess Tom Wilson jumped at the chance to produce Velvert, on Micheal Monarch's Just Sunshine label--(Micheal's the curly headed dude on the motorcycle at the end of the original Woodstock movie).

And Velvert told me the story why: During a break in their 1966 American tour, the Animals bass player Chas Chandler caught Jimi's act at a club and was blown away! He called the Animals producer Tom Wilson (also produced Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel).... "TOM! there's this UNBELIEVABLE guitar player you GOTTA sign him!He can play ANYTHING! He can even play guitar with his TEETH!!" "Chas, I am in the MUSIC business, not the CARNIVAL business--I ain't gonna go see some fool play guitar with his GODDAMM TEETH!!!"...... Well alright, then; Chas took Jimi back to England with him at the end of the Animals' tour---and the rest is you know what.

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