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VELVET MONKEYS: Untitled (2×7″, Ecstatic Peace! E#8, 1990)

Velvet Monkeys - Untitled

I picked this upon eBay some years back for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s an early Ecstatic Peace! release, from back in the days before Thurston Moore’s label became the more serious and organised concern that it is these days; back when he seemed to randomly release stuff with no great plan in mind. It used to be one of those labels that it was really hard to find information about, let alone any kind of coherent discography or release list. I love the numbering style, too – that whole E#8 thing – it’s kind of geeky yet cool. It suggests a handwritten catalogue number – especially when, as in the case of another EP! release I have, a white label promo of a Kjetil D. Brandsdal album, it’s actually handwritten, and very possibly in that case by Mr Thurston Moore himself. Cor.

The other reason for my interest in this record is that I’d heard the name Velvet Monkeys bandied around a lot and felt the need to investigate. Don Fleming, the band’s main man, is one of those underground American indie legend kinda guys who seems to have been involved in an insane number of things. Way back in around 1991 I attended a press conference at a pub in London to mark the release of a Gumball album (Gumball is another Fleming band). I asked no questions but recorded everything on a Dictaphone, to later find that I had in fact successfully recorded 45 minutes’ worth of a faint buzzing sound with no coherent speech. Hah. As part of that outing, I was invited to watch Gumball play at the Rough Trade shop, downstairs from Slam City Skates. They were cool, not quite the intense freeform psychedelia that their contribution to Sonic Youth’s Year That Punk Broke movie might suggest, but tons o’ fun all the same. The real magic of the day, though, was that Trumans Water played too, and they were incredible. One of the most exciting live spectacles I’ve ever seen, and when viewed from halfway up the spiral staircase that led down to the record shop, even better.

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