In 1986, they split a cassette release, the avant-pop Big Big Sun, with old pals Half Japanese. The group then took a break, with Fleming and Spiegel moving to New York to join fellow musician/producer Kramer's pop-deconstruction unit B.A.L.L. During the sojourn, they issued a compilation of early material with Rotting Corpse Au-Go-Go (1989). Upon B.A.L.L.'s reportedly acrimonious demise, they re-formed Velvet Monkeys with guest musicians Thurston Moore, J Mascis, and Pussy Galore's Julia Cafritz for 1990's concept album - and swan song - Rake, a take-off on the exploitation soundtracks of the 1970s (like Curtis Mayfield's Superfly). Fleming and Spiegel returned the favor by subsequently playing on and/or producing recordings by Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and Free Kitten. Velvet Monkeys also appeared on a number of compilations during the 1980s, including The Other, Sub Pop 9, Train to Disaster, Let's Sea, and Deadly Spawn. In addition, they released a single on Sub Pop (with the Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" on the flip) and a double-single of early '80s demos (Better Living) on Moore's Ecstatic Peace label.
In 1990, Fleming, Spiegel, and Riviera morphed, as it were, into a new group: Gumball. Two years later, Rake's "They Call It Rock" was included on the soundtrack to Alison Anders' Gas Food Lodging (along with tracks by J Mascis and others). Six years later, House Party, which was recorded for - but never released by - SST in 1985 with Workdogs' Rob Kennedy and Scott Jarvis (two other Half Japanese vets), was released by God Bless. The highlight was a ten-minute version of the Stooges' minimalist dirge "Little Doll." Although they had been gone from the scene for five years by that point, Velvet Monkeys hadn't been completely forgotten, even if Fleming and Spiegel have since become better-known for the other bands with which they've been associated. ~ Kathleen C. Fennessy, All Music Guide