Listening to this phenomenal collection of Velvet Underground prehistory, it’s fairly mind-boggling how fast Lou Reed and John Cale moved in the earliest stages of their creative partnership. Less than a year after these acoustic demos were made, the pair were in the studio recording the epochal Velvet Underground & Nico — an LP whose reverberations are still being felt today.
To celebrate a half-century of Transformer, here’s an alternate version of the album, cobbled together from live performances, NYC apartment demos and internet sessions, stretching from the early 1970s to the 21st century. Some of these tunes would become setlist mainstays; others didn’t make it past 1973. The reinventions here are sometimes radical, veering from buoyant glam-funk to shameless Michelob Lite-rock, from austere and solemn readings to goofy garage pop. The one constant? Lou himself, of course. Even as his voice and vibes shift from year to year, Reed’s intense, one-of-a-kind life force shines through, no matter where he takes these tunes. If he taught us anything, it’s that there’s more than one way to walk on the wild side.
Taste the whip. Captured in January 1972, a year and half following Lou Reed’s hard exit from the Velvet Underground, we find ourselves at Le Bataclan theatre, Paris, France. The occasion marked a semi-impromptu reunion of the former VU bandmates. For a night, anyway.
“This is a song about copping drugs in New York…” Taste the whip. Captured in January 1972, a year and half following Lou Reed’s hard exit from the Velvet Underground, […]
The day after Christmas, December of 1972: Lou Reed and band (The Tots) in Hempstead, NY, recording live for radio at Untrasonic Recording Studio. Recorded just a month after the release […]
When Lou Reed penned the classic “Rock and Roll” he paid tribute not only to rock and roll music, but also to the transformative powers of rock and roll radio. Radio was […]
A blueprint for the nascent VU. In the early 1960s, just prior to the formation of the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed worked as a staff writer for the rip-off, cash-in label […]
When I heard the news of Lou Reed’s death yesterday, I didn’t immediately reach for a record, but instead picked up my copy of Lester Bangs’ Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung . Re-reading Bangs classic Creem […]
Twelve acoustic demos recorded in the Fall of 1970 following Lou Reed’s departure from the Velvet Underground. Concerning the set, A History of The Underground notes that while many of the tracks are similar to […]
A highlight of Lou Reed’s 1989 album New York , “Halloween Parade” is as evocative as it is chilling. Through a processional cast of characters the track chronicles the decade’s AIDS epidemic […]
(Album artwork: Does it indeed affect our listening experience, and if so, how? Scratch the Surface takes a look at particularly interesting and/or exceptional cover art choices.) Expectations. We all have them, for […]
Like some of you, I suffer from a condition that involves me personally investigating just about every Velvets, or Lou Reed, cover I can get my hands on — I […]