There's not much information about Velvet Night in the liner notes of this disc (or anywhere for that matter), except to say that their album was an "Italian-American psych rarity" and that it was produced by Jimmy Curtiss and Steve Kanyon, who were involved with the Hobbits and New Hobbits. The band itself seems like a fairly standard early-70s psych outfit, albeit with female lead vocals on most tracks. This Fallout reissue of Velvet Night's self-titled 1970 album comes coupled with a track from a 45 released by the band. The end result is a mixed bag of originals and covers that is halfway decent, but ultimately nothing worth getting overly excited about.
Oddly enough, out of the nine tracks on this reissue, only one was written by an actual member of the band, with Curtiss and Kanyon penning four. The rest of the album consists of various covers, including four-song Cream medley. Really, the non-covers are the high point of the album and it almost seems like a shame that more of them were not incorporated into the final release, if they ever existed to begin with. The two biggest standouts are the songs "Velvet Night" and "Edge of the Woods." "Velvet Night" is a driving, menacing track with great guitar riffs and a snappy chorus. "Edge of the Woods" is a dreamier track, but still has a lot of punch.
With the cover tunes, the band immediately becomes less interesting to hear. One of the worst is the aforementioned medley of Cream songs (entitled "Tribute"), which consists of "I Feel Free," "I'm So Glad," (actually a cover of a cover, since Skip James wrote the original) "The Sunshine of Your Love," and "White Room." I've never been much of a fan of medleys of any kind, but this one is particularly dull, as it does little to differentiate itself from Cream's recordings. The oddest by far is their rendition of the Band's "The Weight," which seems extremely out of place (not to mention a little hokey) on the album. Throughout these covers and others, the Velvet Night are certainly competent enough, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the group wasn't much more than a glorified bar cover band. (The number of songs written by people other than those in the band seems like a roundabout confirmation of this.) Still, given the lack of biographical information available on the band, it's hard to say what really happened.
Overall, this reissue feels like half of an album. The original songs (or at least the songs original to the album) are worth revisiting, but after a few spins, I can't imagine listening to the covers again. Obviously, it wouldn't make sense to do the reissue without the covers, as it would not represent the complete original album (not to mention it would only clock in at about fifteen minutes). Still, if you're a rabid fan of psych rarities, you'll probably want to hear Velvet Night. 5/10 -- Matt Blackall (6 August, 2008)