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Chastain had recorded in the mid-1980s as a solo artist and as a member of Nines and The Stupid Cupids, while Menck had been a member of The Reverbs and The Paint Set. The long association between Chastain and Menck began in 1987 with the indie pop band Choo Choo Train, who released two singles and an EP and were signed to the British indie label The Subway Organization. The duo also recorded for Sarah Records as The Springfields, and for Bus Stop as Bag-O-Shells. Both had been based in Chicago, but they relocated to Rhode Island around this time. Opting for a more rock-oriented power pop sound, the duo formed Velvet Crush in 1989, with Jeffery Borchardt of Honeybunch. After three singles on Bus Stop Records, the band released a cover version of Teenage Fanclub's "Everything Flows", as an extra track on the CD Single of 'Ash & Earth, on Seminal Twang, run by David Barker of Glass Records, who was in charge of the Paperhouse label for Fire Records at this time. Paperhouse were keen to release the first Velvet Crush LP, but they chose to sign to Creation Records in the UK, who issued the band's debut album, In the Presence of Greatness, in 1991. The band stayed with Creation for a second album, Teenage Symphonies to God, released in 1994 (on Sony Records in the US). The group members spent the next few years acting as Stephen Duffy's backing band, recording two albums with the singer. Velvet Crush returned in 1998 with the Heavy Changes album, now on the Action Musik label. Another album, Free Expression, followed in 1999, by which time the band was reduced to a duo of Chastain and Menck. Soft Sounds followed in 2002, and Stereo Blues in 2004.

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