Royal Albert Hall October 10 1997: Live

Tampering with a winning formula can be tricky....

TAMPERING WITH A WINNING FORMULA CAN BE TRICKY. ONCE A Creation success story with the upbeat melodics of their first two Byrds/Big Star-influenced albums, the Crush have chucked the pop lark in favour of a harder-edged ‘rock’ approach. So successful is this transformation that when Creation heard ‘Heavy Changes’ – their first record since 1994 – they refused to release it.

Undeterred, Cooking Vinyl stepped in to rescue the album from the scrapheap where, perhaps, it should have been left. The Velvet Crush have attempted to spruce themselves up for a cruise down racket road at 180mph, but they’ve gotten so caught up in the momentum of their journey that they’ve left the tunes behind. On the occasions when they collide with sprightly hooks, they’re well signposted: ‘Think It Over’ borrows an REM lick, and ‘Live For Now’ is akin to The Replacements’ ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’. Only done badly.

At times chunky guitar riffs striking out like hammer blows, or lapses into countrified Fanclub-esque delicacy suggest that there might be hope for the ‘Crush yet. ‘Heavy Changes’, however, is the sound of a band grappling for the classic, and grasping only clichi.