May 7, 2015

Classic Canadian Alternative: National Velvet

About a year and a half ago, I mentioned National Velvet in a post on cool Canadian alternative bands. This post features them in some more detail.

National Velvet formed in the mid-80s through a chance meeting between singer Maria Del Mar and bassist Mark Storm. Their 1988 début album was a fantastic mix of alternative rock with goth influence and aesthetic. There were many amazing tunes on that album including their biggest hit, "Flesh Under Skin", "A Wake", "Change My Mind", "Bam Bam", "68 Hours" and "Pacifist at Risk".

Their second album, 1990's Courage marked the addition of a second guitarist who unfortunately brought with him some of the hair metal stylings that were popular at the time. In spite of this, there were many cool tunes on Courage including "Shine On", "Sex Gorilla", "Chalice", "Rattlesnake", and "Weebles".

I was lucky enough to see National Velvet live a couple of times back in the day. A memorable gig was at Rock and Roll Heaven, a now-dead venue that was in the basement of the shopping mall at Yonge and Bloor. At this show, Maria was the subject of sexual heckles from an audience member who kept shouting things like "Let's see your tits!". Classy. Well Maria is not one to be the victim. She responded with something like, "Sure. First, let's see your dick." When she was greeted by silence, she waved her little finger in the air and said, "That's what I thought.". Nice.

Years later I was at The Ultrasound Showbar, a now-dead venue on Queen West where I was lucky enough to dance with Maria to whatever band was playing that night. A very cool human.

Their final album Wildseed came out in 1995 and sadly I never really got into it.

Bassist Mark Storm passed away in 2002 and the band still plays some gigs. I would love to see them on stage again.

Check out some tunes, first from their eponymous début:

"Flesh Under Skin"

"Bam Bam"

"68 Hours"

"Change My Mind"

All of their début is here, if you please:

And some tunes from Courage:

"Shine On"

"Sex Gorilla"

And here's all of Courage.

Pic from