Whether named for supraventricular tachycardia (meaning rapid heart rhythm) or the Ampeg bass amplifier, SVT was one of the more-interesting bands to emerge from San Francisco’s new wave scene of the late ’70s. The quartet combined catchy power-pop songwriting courtesy lead singer/guitarist Brian Marnell with a visceral attack and occasionally more extended numbers than were the stylistic norm – “Money Street” and the power ballad “Too Late” both clocking in past five minutes.
With Jack Casady’s post-Jefferson Airplane band Hot Tuna on hiatus, the formidable bassist’s presence and musicality gave SVT immediate cred. He eschews “Somebody to Love” explorations in favor of laying down low-end with the drums (Bill Gibson or Paul Zahl), always driving the song forward – particularly effective on the punk-surf instrumental “North Beach.”
“Waiting For You,” reminiscent of early Elvis Costello, features snaky lead from Marnell, who deftly slices off some false harmonics on “No Regrets,” while Casady solos on the ironically titled (and kick-ass) “You Don’t Rock.” The group only lasted from ’79 to ’82, but why “Heart Of Stone” wasn’t a hit, either as SVT’s single or Airplane bandmate Marty Balin’s subsequent cover, remains anybody’s guess.
This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.