Velvett Fogg

Velvett Fogg was an English psych-rock band that released a 1969 self-titled album and the Tornadoes cover “Telstar” on Pye Records. Guitarist–singer Paul Eastment recorded a subsequent album with folk-rockers The Ghost.

Members: Frank Wilson (vocals, organ), Graham Mullett (drums), Mick Pollard (bass), Ian Leighton (guitar, 1968), Paul Eastment (guitar, vocals, 1968-70)


Background

Velvett Fogg formed in 1968 from the remnants of Gravy Train, an unsigned Birmingham soul-rock band (not the post-psych Vertigo act) with bassist Mick Pollard, drummer Graham Mullett, and singer–organist Frank Wilson, who assumed the mic from original frontman Ernie Handy just as beat gave way to psychedelia. They incorporated stage lighting and go-go dancers into their live act and tackled the UK and German club circuits.

As Velvett Fogg, they signed with Pye Records under the auspices of producer and big band arranger Jack Dorsey, who encouraged their provocative image. They briefly featured (eventual Black Sabbath) guitarist Tony Iommi, fresh off a six-month stint with raided blues-rockers Mythology. He played one gig with Fogg before they welcomed guitarist Ian Leighton of psychsters The Medium, which cut the 1968 CBS single “Colours of the Rainbow” (b/w “Edward Never Lies”).

With Leighton, Velvett Fogg did a semi-nude photo-shoot in body paint for their proposed album. Before sessions commenced, Leighton cleared for Iommi’s cousin, guitarist–vocalist Paul Eastment. Musician Keith Law of Brummie psychsters Jardine befriended Fogg and provided them material.


The Album

Velvett Fogg released their self-titled album in January 1969 on Pye. It features two Eastment originals (“Wizard of Gobsolod,” “Lady Caroline”) and three Keith Law submissions (“Yellow Cave Woman,” “Once Among the Trees,” “Within the Night”), plus the Mullett–Wilson co-write “Plastic Man” and the group-written “Owed to the Dip.”

Velvett Fogg also contains two covers: the Bee Gees melodrama “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and the ’60s folk standard “Come Away Melinda.”

A1. “Yellow Cave Woman” (7:00)
A2. “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (2:55) originated as a ballad on Bee Gees 1st, the 1967 third album by the Bee Gees; written by Robin and Barry Gibb. The organ-rock trio Ashton Gardner & Dyke include a post-psych arrangement on their 1969 self-titled album.
A3. “Wizard of Gobsolod” (2:57)
A4. “Once Among the Trees” (5:39)
A5. “Lady Caroline” (2:23)
B1. “Come Away Melinda” (5:55) is a 1963 song by Fred Hellerman and Fran Minkoff of American folk perennials The Weavers; popularized in the UK by Barry St. John and recently covered by Tim Rose and Bobbu Gentry. Uriah Heep and UFO recorded 1970 post-psych versions.
B2. “Owed to the Dip” (6:07)
B3. “Within the Night” (4:47)
B4. “Plastic Man” (4:47)

Velvett Fogg sports a photo of the Leighton lineup in face paint and half-clothed hippie attire, flanked by two nude women in body paint. The back cover features liner notes by DJ John Peel. Dorsey produced the album in sequence with titles by Woody Kern and Dr. Marigold’s Prescription.

“Owed to the Dip” became the b-side of “Telstar ’69,” an updated cover of the 1962 Tornadoes instrumental hit, which Velvett Fogg recorded at Dorsey’s behest to capitalize on the Apollo 11 moon landing.

A. “Telstar ’69” (2:47) updates “Telstar,” an instrumental composition by pre-beat UK producer Joe Meek for Billy Fury’s backing band The Tornadoes, whose 1962 original became the first British rock single to reach No. 1 in the US.


After Velvett Fogg

Frank Wilson joined original Deep Purple bassist Nic Simper in hard-rockers Warhorse, which released two 1970–72 albums on Vertigo. In 1980, he teamed with Electric Light Orchestra cellist Melvyn Gale as Wilson Gale & Co. Their album, Gift Wrapped, appeared on ELO’s Jet Records label.

Paul Eastment formed Holy Ghost, which morphed into The Ghost for the 1970 album When You’re Dead – One Second.


Discography:

  • Velvett Fogg (1969)
  • “Telstar ’69” / “Owed to the Dip” (1969)

Sources:

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