Soulive's Al Evans Unearths Crushed Velvet
Royal Family Records has announced the May 24 release of the long lost 1970s' motion picture soundtrack The Big One by Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers. This never-before-issued soul music gem was recently unearthed by Soulive drummer Alan Evans when a family friend in Buffalo, NY put him in touch with the movie's director Cleo McBride. A 1974 Shaft-meets-007 Blaxploitation production, The Big One never made it to the big screen as the film was reported to have been destroyed in a fire soon after completion. The soundtrack recordings remained dormant until Evans was recruited to mix the original sessions and release it through Soulive's record company Royal Family Records. The Brooklyn-based label will release the soundtrack as both a free mp3 album download and on limited edition vinyl.
The track listing is:
1. The Big One (Main Theme)
3. Felecia's Love Theme
4. Detroit Slim
5. The Lay Down
6. Memphis Stomp
7. London Black (pts. 1,2,3)
8. Big Chase
9. The Big One (End Theme)
More about Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers…
In the late 60s and early 70s, Buffalo, NY was a well-known hotspot for funk and soul music. One of the stand-outs on the scene was a guitarist and vocalist who went by the name Crushed Velvet. He backed many of Buffalo's finest musicians and was the first call most national hit-makers would make when needing to assemble a local band for Buffalo dates. Inspired to start his own band, he assembled Crushed Velvet and the Velveteers. They hit the scene hard bringing a tight new sound to “The Queen City." The response was so overwhelming that it quickly became clear the next logical step was to set their sites on New York City. As plans were being made for a move to the Big Apple, Crushed Velvet got a call from an old band-mate turned filmmaker Cleo McBride. Cleo had recently been given his first big break to direct a film called The Big One. This was not going to be a run of the mill Blaxploitation movie, but a film to turn the industry on its head. The main character was to be the first African-American spy hero, chasing down "the man" across the world. Crushed Velvet believed this could be the band's ticket to the top, so plans for NYC were shelved. Instead, they began recording the album of their lives. After nearly a year of writing and recording, the soundtrack was near completion. It was around this time that Crushed Velvet received the devastating news that would shatter those dreams. On March 23, 1974, the home of Cleo McBride was burned to the ground along with all of the master film reels for The Big One.
After the fire, all that remained was the shock and allegations of an entire community. Cleo McBride was the first to claim that the government was at fault for the destruction of his work because of its positive and powerful depiction of a "black man as a strong, worldly hero." With no film to accompany the music and an overall paranoia associated with anything having to do with The Big One, the soundtrack was shelved. Crushed Velvet broke up the band and disappeared from the Buffalo music scene.
In 2010, Soulive drummer Alan Evans was contacted by a family friend who'd been in touch with Cleo McBride. Aware that Evans, a Buffalo-native, had achieved a great deal of success in the music industry and was also operating his own recording studio PlayonBrother, they shared the story of The Big One and Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers, hoping he'd listen to the tapes. Intrigued by the story, Evans agreed and what he found was pure soul music gold. He took to the task of mixing the recordings and preparing them for worldwide release through Soulive's label Royal Family Records.
THE BIG ONE, the original motion picture soundtrack by CRUSHED VELVET & THE VELVETEERS is available May 24 as a free mp3 album download and on limited edition vinyl through Royal Family Records.