Lions & Ghosts – Velvet Kiss, Lick Of The Lime [1987]

388688Country USA          

Style Melodic/Alternative Rock

Rating 80/100

Band Members Rick Parker – Vocals,guitars,keyboards, Michael Lockwood – Guitars,vocals, Todd Hoffman – Bass, vocals, Michael Martin Murphey – Drums,vocals

Tracks 01. Passion, 02. Man In A Car, 03. Mary Goes ‘Round, 04. Stay, 05. Street Angel, 06. Girl On A Swing, 07. Love and Kisses From The Gutter, 08. When The Moon Is Full, 09. Contradiction, 10. Wilton House, 11. One Theme

Profile Like Camper Van Beethoven and the Replacements, Lions & Ghosts were adored by college-radio DJs in the 80s but received cold shoulders from the mainstream airwaves. Formed in Los Angeles by Rick Parker (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Michael Lockwood (guitar, vocals), Todd Hoffman (bass, vocals), and Michael Murphey (drums, vocals), Lions & Ghosts’ melodic guitar rock seemed tailor-made for campus stations. However, the group was lost in a glut of American bands marketed as the next R.E.M., whose surprise Top-40 breakthrough in 1987 inspired record labels to pillage college radio for the Next Big Thing.

Lions & Ghosts’ 1987 debut LP Velvet Kiss, Lick of the Lime was dismissed by critics who didn’t feel the group was doing anything revolutionary or ambitious. In contrast, left-of-the-dial programmers feasted on the record’s power-pop grooves. Mary Goes Round”, a dead ringer for the Replacements, and Man in a Car” enjoyed heavy airplay on small alternative stations. Mary Goes Round” even became a cult hit on New Wave dials in Manila, Philippines. But commercial outlets in the U.S. felt that the band’s music was too understated and moody for mass acceptance.

For fans of Bowie, Bolan, The Damned and other British greats, Lions and Ghosts was a return to something which had been misplaced–individuality. Velvet Kiss has it all– excellent songwriting, catchy and memorable lyrics/hooks, and a personality which is uniquely that of L&G. Fans of anthem-metal or kooky-glam (ala Faster Pussycat) may not enjoy. “Passion,” clearly a standout, is one of those songs that everyone will like. For the more kitschy British pop lovers, Man in a Car, Wilton House and Street Angel will be appreciated. Other more rock oriented songs such as Love and Kisses, Mary, and Passion seem to hint at what might have become Lions and Ghosts “sound” had they continued on. All in all, this album holds its rough edge while still maintaining a tasteful and introspective quality. It does not rock in the head-banging sense. It is not a monument to glam. It’s more than that– if you missed this when it came out, take a listen.

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Lions & Ghosts - Velvet Kiss, Lick Of The Lime [1987], 6.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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