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.
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.
Dig into a homemade comp of choice Velvet Underground performances at the Boston Tea Party, the club that served as the band’s home away from home in the late 1960s. These so-called “Professor Tapes” have circulated for years, but the master reels were made available a while back, and – though they’re still far from an audiophile experience – they’re much more listenable now. And the music here more than makes up for the 50+ year old tape hiss.
Here’s our own reimagining of The Velvet Underground & Nico, featuring obscure takes on the VU, spanning from the 1960s to the 1990s. Some of these renditions are fairly faithful to the source, while others are decidedly irreverent, finding some truly weirdo approaches to these very sturdy songs. Synth-pop, goth, glam, industrial, grunge, garage … it’s all here, and more.
…fiery renditions of “White Light / White Heat,” “Sister Ray” and “Foggy Notion” (Sterling Morrison sounding especially killer on the latter tune). There’s a rare take on the lovely “Over You,” for some reason never attempted in the studio — here, Lou Reed calls it his “Billie Holiday impersonation.” And then there’s “Sweet Jane,” still in its original, slow-and-steady incarnation, Reed making up lyrics as he goes. Lo-fi quality? Yeah. Hi-fi experience? Oh yeah.
Loaded has been rightly celebrated plenty over the decades, but what the hell, let’s celebrate it a little more. This latest Unearthed mix cobbles together an alternate version of the LP via some tasty live recordings, rehearsal tapes, backstage jams and other obscurities. Recording quality varies wildly, performance quality is great throughout. Heavenly wine & roses await.
Most of what you read concerning the Velvet Underground will inevitably note how woefully under-appreciated the group were during its brief lifespan. But the VU were superstars — and not […]
Welcome to the March installment of Aquarium Drunkard’s recurring Transmissions podcast, a series of interviews and audio esoterica. This month, we’re centering in on a sense of place. First, we sit […]
No other rock n roll band was recorded live in the ’60s as frequently as The Velvet Underground, thanks to characters such as ‘The Professor’ in Boston, and future guitar […]
With the official release of (most of) the Matrix Tapes last year, there is very little unheard Velvet Underground live material left in the vaults. But there is a still-unreleased tape that should […]
In a few weeks, a six-disc box set celebrating the Velvet Underground’s self-titled third LP will hit shelves. The main draw is the inclusion of The Matrix Tapes – long-awaited, […]
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 […]
The just-announced “super-deluxe” edition of the VU’s White Light/White Heat will include a handful of previously unheard performances — the most interesting of which are a live rendition of “The Gift” and […]