Back in the days when manufactured pop actually produced decent music, pop bosses selected dark husky Canadian siren Alannah Myles to head their latest chart offensive. With her snarled and scrambled raven hair and shiny leather, Myles' pale countenance and grey eyes cut a startling figure on the record cover; coupled with the jazzy metallic lettering, the cover revealed exactly what this artist was meant to do: find a brusquer, rockier void in the midst of the pop success of Belinda Carlisle, T'Pau and the like. Enter guitars, Myles' rasping vocals, and more guitars into the same lyrical mould as Heaven Is A Place On Earth and hey presto! Alannah Myles: the debut was born.
Myles was quickly forgotten after this offering, while Carlisle continues to sell countless compilations at mid-price and still makes the odd public appearance; Myles has never been seen again. The curse of the Canadians, you think? Perhaps, but the primary evidence lies here. Myles was never given pop melodies as strong as Summer Rain or I Get Weak (both Carlisle hits), and lyrically the majority of her debut is dire. A simple glance at some of the song titles explains: Lover of Mine, Just One Kiss and Who Loves You could easily fit into any modern Ibiza collection without a second glance; in a rock chick discography they represent historical suicide. There is one major exception to this, though...
Black Velvet. A soft rock classic, formed in the minds of pop impresarios but exalted by Myles herself, Black Velvet stands head and shoulders above the rest of the record. Nominally a ballad, it transcends such restrictions to become that holy grail of all manufactured pop: a creditable masterpiece that has shed all the tags and baggage of the pop assembly line. Dark and dusky, Myles exerts every vocal graze and scratch possible in a sort of restrained sonata that exudes the same apparitious mettle of 10cc's I'm Not In Love or Guns N Roses' November Rain. It deserves a place as one of the greatest singles in rock history.
Black Velvet is exemplary of all that is good about Myles' debut: the husky vocals and striking guitar work are reflected elsewhere, notably in Love Is and Kick Start My Heart. Opener Still Got This Thing showcases an arresting conversant guitar riff that simply makes the song, while the solo in Rock This Joint is euphoric. The collection falls away as it travels, culminating in the turgid closer Hurry Make Love. This is not to say that it isn't, on the whole, likable. If Pat Benatar and her type is your style, then this is for you.
For the sake of Black Velvet, Myles cannot be forgotten.