Tag Archives: Velvet Underground

Lost Classic: Nico – Desertshore

Nico - DesertshoreNicoDesertshore (Reprise)

You’ll all be grateful that Nico‘s third and most ambitious album, Desertshore, clocks in at a mere twenty-nine minutes…but maybe for different reasons. For some, the lack of variety within its grooves and the fact that Nico’s voice is a challenging instrument mean those twenty-nine minutes cannot come soon enough. For others, the material is hauntingly dark and the short running time is all that a sane person can probably take. In fact, if it were any darker, the record would need to be shipped with a suicide-prevention number. Just in case.

Nico pairs up with Velvet Underground alum John Cale once again on what may be the most challenging post-Velvet offering ever made by a former member. You’d have to remove Metal Machine Music on sheer principle to get that distinction, but Cale does a stand-up job by removing everything out of the mix, save for his occasional piano jabs outlining the drone of Nico’s harmonium and her Germanic monotone.

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The Velvet Underground: New York Art

The Velvet Underground: New York ArtThe Velvet Underground: New York Art – Edited by Johan Kugelberg (Rizzoli)

As influential as the Velvet Underground is, there is surprisingly little written material devoted to the N.Y.C. groundbreakers. For years, Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga’s Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story was the best reference point available—a collection of interviews and retelling of the band’s history.

It remains as the go-to book for anyone wanting to learn more about the band and it presents the band in a warts-and-all fashion, particularly Lou Reed who is not spared from the harsh realities of truth, or at least his peer’s interpretation of it.

The Velvet Underground: New York Art takes a different approach in delivering the band’s story, as it focuses on telling it through visual methods instead of the traditional black and white prose.

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Velvet Underground – I’m Not A Young Man Anymore

Big news for Velvets fans. Dead Flowers has generously liberated a freshly discovered bootleg of a 1967 Velvet Underground show at the Gymnasium in NYC.

It’s lifted from a message board post by a character calling himself “Furious Wank” who claims, “It’s the ONLY available live stuff from 1967 and has only become available in literally the last two days. Recorded just after the release of The Velvet Underground And Nico and featuring the debut performance of Sister Ray (19 mins long) and the *previously unheard* song I’m Not A Young Man Any More.”

I’ve listened to it (somewhat skeptically) and it definitely sounds like the real deal to my ears. Gotta love Lou Reed whining about no longer being a young man at ripe old age of 25. Dipshit whippersnapper.

The Primitives (pre-VU) – The Ostrich

Lou Reed might be a complete asshole these days, but he was undeniably amazing back in the sixties (and even for a small part of the seventies). WFMU’s Beware of the Blog has uncovered the 1964 novelty single from the Primitives, and they’re sharing both sides: “The Ostrich” b/w “Sneaky Pete.”

The Primitives - The OstrichRemarkably, this single “generated enough interest to put together a band for a few live gigs. And amazingly enough, that touring version of The Primitives featured John Cale…”

The A-side featured an alternative guitar tuning with all the strings tuned to a D. This tuning became known, not coincidentally, as Ostrich tuning, and was later employed by Reed on several Velvet Underground songs.

Via the gum.

Velvet Underground Acetate MP3s

4-25-66Remember that Velvet Underground acetate on ebay? Apparently, that one wasn’t “one of a kind.” Or else someone ripped the vinyl before losing it. Or something… Because there’s a Japanese bootleg of the material floating around.

The bootleg’s source was apparently in rougher shape and contains more surface noise than the one that was being auctioned off last week. But there are probably a lot of people out there who just want to hear the alternate versions, no matter how shaky the quality.

Well, Merry Christmas, motherfuckers! After the jump, you can download the four songs from the acetate that were completely different takes from the officially released album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

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Velvet Underground Rarity under the Gavel

4-25-66A one-of-a-kind Velvet Underground acetate is being auctioned off on ebay. These are the legendary “lost Scepter Studios recordings” that include the original, unreleased versions of “European Son,” “Heroin,” “Venus In Furs,” and “I’m Waiting For The Man.” The other five tracks are the same takes that were released on Velvet Underground & Nico, but with different mixes.

There had been talk of Universal buying this and releasing it, but apparently that fell through… Current bid is $18,600.00 and bidding ends on December 8. If you’ve got some extra cash, buy this and upload the mp3s so we can all hear the first Velvets album as Andy Warhol originally intended it.

Via Percolator.

I’m Beginning to See the Light…again.

Rediscovering the Velvet Underground

Sometimes it’s amazing what you find when you dig back into your collection. Forgotten gems of music gathering dust in crates or on CD racks can take you back to specific times in your life or fill you with emotions also long forgotten.

I recently dug out my copy the Velvet Underground’s debut album and was immediately awash in memories of my first listening of this fantastic record. Back in our college days, Glono founder, Jake Brown, was away on foreign study in Scotland and had left me his entire CD collection for safekeeping. Totaling less than a hundred CDs, Jake’s collection still dwarfed my meager assortment of Beatles, Smiths and Stone Roses disks. My collection was reigned in by my seemingly endless state of destitution and I was forever borrowing disks from Jake. Now I had them all together and I was going to listen to every damned one.

I was going to use this time to catch up with the old boy. His collection was always more mature and diverse than mine. Though I was always hip to the good stuff, I never owned it and my exposure was limited to selections on mix tapes. Now, I was going to take the time to get to really know the stuff I’d only ever really had a glimpse.

Rummaging through the box less than an hour after Jake’s plane headed to the UK, I found not-so-golden oldies like Nancy Sinatra and the Jackson 5, the latter of which introduced me to soul music. Rare UK Import CDs quickly found their way to mix tapes I made for the Indie Kids at Denny’s. The real discovery though was a collection of disks from the pioneers of both Punk and New Wave like The Modern Lovers, the Pretenders and finally the Velvet Underground. That fall is when my fascination with VU was born.

I think most people discover the Velvets in college. It’s a time for liberal thinking and acceptance of art as more than just an easy class. The Velvet Underground is the perfect catalyst for accepting art in rock. They serve as a Trojan Horse for underground ideals to sneak into suburbia with droning, driving rhythms that thinly veil the sexual/drug themes in good, honest Rock. It also introduced poetry in Rock in a way the bloated ramblings of Jim Morrison never could. Where the Doors were a fat, bearded howl of paganistic declarations and Jim Beam ballyhoo, the Velvets were sleek speed freaks with minimalistic ravings from pseudo bisexuals and Warhol ingenues. Though they were twenty-odd years gone by the time I’d found them, they were fresh and new and dangerous. And I loved them.

But time fades away and you discover new fascinations. Later that year I also discovered Neil Young and that obsession led me to alt.country and the founders of the No Depression genre, Uncle Tupelo. Soon, Tupelo split into Son Volt and Wilco, my current obsession. Listening to Wilco’s yet unreleased Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and its droning art rock leanings led me back to the Velvet Underground and those long fall nights listening alone in my room. I can still see the ceiling fan of my teenage bedroom swirling as the long notes and cryptic laments of VU swirl in my head. The Velvet Underground opened my mind to a different brand of Rock and Roll that has led me to the finest unheard bands in America and THAT has changed my life.