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22 Nov 2016

Velvert Turner Group” Velvert Turner Group” 1972 US Psych Funk Soul Rock




Velvert Turner Group” Velvert Turner Group” 1972  US Psych Funk Soul Rock
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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….. by Sean Westergaard …………. 

Subliminalsounds: 

“Of the various myths and legends that have sprung up since Jimi Hendrix’s death in 1970, one of the most enigmatic and enduring concerns his relationship with Velvert Turner, the New York born axeman who claimed both to be friend and protege of the late guitarist. More evidence comes courtesy of ex-Television guitarist Richard Lloyd, who not only listened to a lengthy telephone conversation between the pair when the Hendrix was playing in New York, but generally hung out with Turner at the time he was receiving lessons from Hendrix. Commenting on this, Lloyd says "They used to use a large mirror for the lessons because Jimi was left handed and Velvert was not. Velvert used to come to my house after the lessons and show me what Jimi had taught him” Supported by Prescott Niles (later to form The Knack) and Tim McGovern, both of whom cropped up on Randy California’s Kapt Kopter album, Turner produced two different musical versions of his album with the same sleeve and catalogue number, distinguishing them only by their matrix numbers. This, then, is the “heavier” version (matrix no. 16741) with crazed, heavy solo guitar overdubs rather than the “soul” version (matrix no. 16951) with the second lead guitar overdubs removed. The Velert Turner album may be just another small piece in the Hendrix jigsaw, but it also happens to be a pretty good guitar album too.“ …. 

UK reissue of the New York-born guitarist’s one & only album, originally released in 1972 on the Family Productions label, features ten tracks. Although he was right-handed, Turner claimed to be both friend & protege of the late great Jimi Hendrix. Turner produced two different musical versions of the album, this being the ‘heavier’ version with crazed, heavy solo guitar overdubs rather than the 'soul’ version that does not include the second lead guitar overdubs. Band members include Prescott Niles (The Knack) & Tim McGovern. Radioactive. 2004………… 

When I stumbled on to Velvert Turner’s album about five years ago there literally wasn’t anything on the web about Turner. What little there was tended to be inaccurate, or simply outright wrong. There’s now quite a bit more material, but the same cautions are true - much of that information is wrong. 

Anyhow, having found a cheap copy of Turner’s album, I figured I’d give another spin and update my original comments. 

The late Velvert Turner was definitely an interesting guy. For what it’s worth, here’s a copy of Turner’s obituary in the New York Times: 

"A noted musician and former understudy of Jimi Hendrix, passed away on the morning of December 11, 2000, at his home in Brooklyn, New York. Velvert was born October 12, 1951, and is survived by his mother, Helen Harris. Mr. Turner was an accomplished guitarist who crossed paths with Jimi Hendrix as a young teenager growing up in New York City in 1966. He was befriended by Hendrix, who recognized the young scholar’s passion for the electric guitar. The legendary guitarist served as a mentor to Mr. Turner, offering both guitar instruction and professional advice to the young musician. Following Hendrix’s death in September, 1970, Mr. Turner pursued his own musical career, forming the Velvert Turner Group with Prescott Niles and Tim McGovern. He continued to tour and record for almost two decades. In recent years, Mr. Turner was employed by Samaritan Village in Brooklyn, New York. His efforts on behalf of those struggling with substance abuse made a significant difference in the lives of countless people.” 

So today Turner’s best known for three things. 1.) His 'relationship’ with Jimi Hendrix - depending who you listen to they were close friends, Hendrix having taught a school aged Turner how to play guitar in the mid-1960s, 2.) His Hendrix-inspired guitar tutorials (which you can still find on-line), and 3.) The fact his sole album was re-issued by Morris Levy’s infamous Tiger Lily tax scam label. 

The first of these characteristics is controversial. Turner’s friends and co-workers, including Velvert Turner Band band mates Prescott Niles and Chris Robison insist that Turner and Hendrix were close friends. Not that it sheds much light into the relationship, but Turner was himself interviewed for 'The Making of Electric Ladyland’ though he only shows up briefly and his recollections don’t seem to jive with what other people have to say. At the other end of the spectrum there are Hendrix loyalists who have a somewhat different view of the relationship. I don’t have a horse in the race so my advice would be to read what Turner band mates Niles and Robison have to say on the subject. 

As for his second claim to fame - I don’t play guitar, but my older son does and he’s told me Turner’s tutorial isn’t bad, though he only handles the narrative; a guy by the name of Andy Aledolt actually played the guitar. 

Luckily, I own 1972’s “The Velvert Turner Band’ LP and I’m more than willing to talk about it. Those of you who know something about this outfit will undoubtedly want to know where this is the psych guitar version, or the soul version of the album - it’s the psych guitar mix. Self-produced, the album is one of the best Hendrix influenced LPs I’ve heard. Mind you, there’s precious little here that’s particularly original, but judging by tracks such as 'Madonna (Of the Seven Moons)’, 'Talking About My Baby’ and 'Three O'Clock Train’ Turner must have been a fairly gifted student. He clearly had Hendrix’s vocal mannerisms nailed and he has some of Hendrix’s guitar moves down pat (just check out the ballad ’(Love Rides …) The Slow Swirling Seas’ or his cover of Hendrix’s 'Freedom’). The backing from drummer Time McGovern, bassist Prescott Niles, keyboardist Christopher Robison, and a handful of guests was consistently tight and enthusiastic. McGovern, Niles and Robison also kicked in a couple of songs with tracks such as 'Country Chicken’, 'Strangely Neww’ (sic) and 'Scarlet Warrior’ adding a nice touch of musical diversity to the mix. Normally I’m not that thrilled by Hendrix-wannabes (Frank Marino, Robin Trower, etc.), but this one is simply goofy enough to make the cut. Even the clunky numbers were worth hearing - check out the children’s chorus on 'Scarlet Warrior’. It somehow managed to salvage Turner’s out of tune lead vocals … beats me how it worked. …by BadCat records……… 

Tim McGovern – drums, percussion 
- Prescott Niles – bass 
- Christopher Robison – keyboards 
- Velvert Turner (RIP 2000) – lead vocals, lead guitar 

supporting musicians: 
- Bob Hogans – keyboards 
- Bob Lennox – keyboards 

(side 1) 
1.) Madonna (Of the Seven Moons) (Velvert Turner) - 3:35 
2.) Talking About My Baby (Velvert Turner) - 4:00 
3.) Country Chicken (Christopher Robison) - 2:56 
4.) Strangely Neww (Prescott Niles - Christopher Robison) - 6:05 
5.) Scarlet Warrior (Prescott Niles - Tim McGovern) - 3:32 

(side 2) 
1.) Three O'Clock Train (Velvert Turner) - 5:05 
2.) Just Look and See (Prescott Niles - Velvert Turner) - 4:15 
3.) 'Xcuse Me, Gentlemen (The Fall of Atlantis) (Velvert Turner) - 4:32 
4.) (Love Rides …) The Slow Swirling Seas (Velvert Turner) - 3:50 
5.) Freedom (Jimi Hendrix) - 6:17   

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