Ed Ward (captward) Thu 28 May 09 02:09
On overloading the board while recording, I've always thought that's what makes "What Goes On" as exciting as it is. There are instrumental interludes with the organ just blasting away, and it produces overtones which I think may be due to waves in the room where the recording was made. When the album was reissued on CD, though, those overtones vanished, and I thought I'd imagined them. But the box set includes two mixes of the album, and on one of them (I forget which one and don't have the box handy) you can hear the overtones. I wonder if this was intentional or not.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 28 May 09 05:09
Richie, that's weird - somehow I was certain I'd read the '69 recording was done here. I wouldn't know the difference from the album, of course. I did read the piece in the book about the Vulcan appearance, and I was thinking an interview with Kruppa would've been a great addition, especially given his relationship with Sterling Morrison. I kick myself because in all the years Morrison was at UT, I never made an effort to meet him. I had the coffin poster on my wall for years, and probably still have it in a box somewhere. It's black and white in the book, but the original had a purple border and was just weird. I think my wife eventually convinced me to take it down. When Loaded came out, we wore the grooves down. I thought it was the greatest album ever. Ed: that's weird about the mix switch on the CD. I notice that the copy with the organ is referred to as the "closet mix." I found a reference to that on Wikipedia: <quote>Sterling Morrison thought Reed's mix had a small, closed in, cramped sound. With the music so muted, the phrase "Closet Mix" was coined by Morrison, who said, "We did the third album deliberately as anti-production. It sounds like it was done in a closet it's flat, and that's the way we wanted it. The songs are all very quiet and it's kind of insane. I like the album." Overall, the songs on Reed's mix of the album sound different from the Valentin Mix in that the vocals are brought to the foreground, as opposed to the more "even" mix of Valentin's version. Drums and percussion on the Closet Mix are generally panned to one stereo channel only (typical of many other 1960's rock recordings.) On the Valentin mix drums are usually placed in the center.<end quote> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Velvet_Underground_(album)
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Thu 28 May 09 07:04
That overly intense sound on "What Goes On" is perfect complement to the song's frenetic urgency. It could be a meandering ballad, but it isn't, and it's a whole different song cranked too loud and to the edge of fast. *Very* interesting about Yule and Reed being the two in charge during the Loaded sessions. That starts to make me think more charitably of Yule's "takeover" of the Velvet Underground "brand" after Lou split. To what extent do you see that music -- post-Lou, as Yule's band -- as continuous with the four albums we've been talking about?
outside the law and honest (tbessoir) Thu 28 May 09 07:36
Some background: I got into the Velvets after "Walk on the Wild Side" came out as a single in 1972. I was in high school and already knew who Andy Warhol was. I tracked down a used copy of the banana album is a Greenwich Village record store. I was hooked, bought the other VU records and any solo work by its members that I could find. In the 70's I went to see Lou Reed and John Cale as often as possible. In 1978 I started taking photographs, mostly of musicians. I got to meet Cale through his manager Jane Friedman of Wartoke Concern. Through Jane and John I got to meet Nico when she made her comeback playing at CBGB's. I have a large collection of bootleg LPs, CDs and tapes. The Texas portion of the 1969: VU Live record was recorded at a club called The End of Cole Avenue over two nights. The album was made from a mixed down tape given to the band. The complete sets were released on two different bootlegs (both double CDs): "Live at End Cole Ave" and "The First Night." These bootlegs are from the original tape source, not the mixed down tape given to the band. Richie, I really enjoyed the book. What a phenomenal research job you did. And it is very readable. Did you get to interview any of the band members? I know that in the late 70's Cale was pretty tired of talking about the VU. Although he had been out of the band for a decade that is what fans always seemed to want to talk about when coming back stage after a show.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 08:47
First bumbaugh's question about the post-Lou Velvets: I don't find the Velvet Underground's limited output from the time Yule led the band (late August 1970 to mid-1973) continuous with their previous work. Some might find this harsh, but I find this version -- versions really, since they went through several lineups, Yule being the only constant -- the Velvet Underground in name only. When Reed was with them, the VU, I hasten to emphasize, *were* a band, not just Reed's backing group. That's true of the two years after Yule replaced Cale too, I think, though some critics think otherwise. But Reed's singing, guitar work, and especially his songs, were ultimately the group's greatest assets. After he left, the material -- mostly written by Yule -- just wasn't either too similar or on remotely the same level. Doug Yule himself doesn't like "Squeeze," the 1972 Velvet Underground album (not issued in the US) on which he's actually the only member of the band to play. For these reasons, the coverage in the book of the post-Reed early-'70s lineups is considerably less in-depth than the pre-1971 coverage. That era just isn't that interesting, and the publisher and I agreed there wasn't a need to be as completist in that section. But the unimpressive nature of the post-Reed VU shouldn't obscure a point I made earlier: Doug Yule *was* an important member of the group in the two years after he replaced Cale, though some accounts dismiss him as an unimaginative fill-in. He was a very good multi-instrumentalist -- that's him on organ on "What Goes On" -- a good backup harmony vocalist, and occasionally a good lead vocalist (especially on "Candy Says"). He also worked better within the more straightforward if still edgy rock the band and Reed's songs were moving toward, in my opinion, than Cale would have. His contributions are unfairly overlooked. It doesn't bug him personally, but I found it disgraceful his name wasn't even mentioned in the two UK television documentaries on the VU. And although he wasn't inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame when the VU made it in 1996, he actually plays on more of their released recordings (not even counting the post-Reed lineup releases) than Cale does.
The Highly Overrated (joeyx) Thu 28 May 09 08:53
I'm coming in late to this conversation, but am really looking forward to picking up your book, Richie.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 08:57
My biggest regret about the book is that, even though I did a great deal of research and about 100 interviews, I was only able to interview two band members: Doug Yule and his brother, Billy Yule (the Velvets' temporary drummer for two months in the summer of 1970 when Maureen Tucker was pregnant). Reed and Cale did not respond to interview requests, though someone representing Cale gave me the impression at one point that I could talk to him. Maureen Tucker responded positively to my first interview request, and indicated she'd still do it after I followed up after a couple months of not getting one, but never did do one. Still, I did find a great deal of archive quotes from Reed, Cale, Tucker, and Sterling Morrison (who died in 1995), quite a few from vintage articles that haven't been reprinted. Also, in addition to talking to quite a few people with interesting passing associations with the group, I interviewed a few people as close to the group's inner circle as you could get without being in the band, like Sterling Morrison's widow; original drummer Angus MacLise's widow (Angus died thirty years ago); and Paul Morrissey, who really was the band's manager in most conventional senses from early 1966 to mid-1967, though Warhol (officially the co-manager with Morrissey) is usually said to be the group's manager at this point. To be technical, I did interview one of the guys who played in the Velvet Underground in the early 1970s post-Reed (Rob Norris, who played with them on a brief late 1972 tour). Actually our talk was more about his experiences as a young fan of the band in the mid-to-late 1960s. He actually saw the first appearance at which they were billed as the Velvet Underground, on December 11, 1965 at Summit High School in New Jersey.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 09:29
Here are a couple clarifications about the two different mixes of the third Velvet Underground album, since these have been mentioned in a couple posts: The Velvet Underground box set (at least the one VU box set that got wide attention), "Peel Slowly and See," actually includes only the "closet mix" of the third album. The "regular mix," for lack of a better term, is still the one you hear if you get the album as a standalone CD. I know some audiofiles feel more strongly about this than I do, but actually I don't feel the two different mixes make for remarkably different audio experiences for the average listener. The notable exception is "Some Kinda Love," for which entirely different takes are used; the one on the regular mix has a hoarser vocal and two guitars. Also the bass on "Afterhours" is much more audible on the regular mix; on the closet mix, it's almost inaudible. For those of you reading this who might not be big VU collectors and unfamiliar with these subtleties, it's worth stressing that these mix variations are far from the more interesting or notable things about their third album. What's far more important is that it's a great record with (mostly) great songs that show the group going into a shockingly quiet, sometimes almost folk-rockish direction, and Lou Reed brilliantly developing the more compassionate, melodic, and romantic sides of his songwriting.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 09:37
There seems to be a fair amount of interest in the Velvet Underground's fall 1969 Texas shows, so a couple other clarifications about those: The entirety of the October 18 and October 19, 1969 shows at The End of Cole Ave. in Dallas have been bootlegged, and those tapes are described in detail in the book. But the Dallas material that shows up on "1969 Velvet Underground Live" was only taken from the October 19, 1969 show. The October 18 show has notably inferior sound quality, especially in the vocal department. Also, most of the material on "1969 Velvet Underground Live" was recorded at the Matrix in San Francisco in November 1969; only "I'm Waiting for the Man," "Pale Blue Eyes," "I'll Be Your Mirror," and "Femme Fatale" (as well as the spoken intro to "Some Kinda Love") are from Dallas. Four other songs from the Dallas show show up on a couple obscure import CD compilations. Sterling Morrison did say in a 1986 interview for Spanish television that there were some good recordings made of one of the Austin shows at the Vulcan. These don't seem to have circulated, however, and possibly Morrison was actually thinking of the Dallas recordings.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 09:45
Ed's note about "What Goes On" brings to mind an interesting story about the recording of that track. The guitar solo has a hypnotic, almost bagpipe-like quality. Doug Yule told me that was achieved by basically overlaying several Lou Reed solos at once, saying, "Lou has a tremendous sense of melody. He played three or four solos for that, and they were remarkably similar, simply because he had sort of a basic roadmap for a melody he wanted to play in his head, and he stuck to it." Because Lou Reed's abilities as a guitarist don't get quite all the attention they merit, it's worth pointing out that his playing on the "1969 Velvet Underground Live" version of "What Goes On" is some of the greatest, most mesmerizing rhythm guitar ever recorded. Also Doug Yule's organ work on that live version is an amazing searing swirl. Some collectors/experts just assumed that must have been recorded with the Cale lineup earlier than 1969, feeling that only Cale could have played the organ that demonically. It's another illustration of how Yule's talents and contributions to the group were severely underrated.
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Thu 28 May 09 10:26
I remember reading an interview years ago in which Reed was asked what he'd most like to be, and he responded, "A great rhythm guitarist."
Angus MacDonald (angus) Thu 28 May 09 10:41
I'm enjoying the book tremendously [Bruce & Dana, thanks for alerting me to this discussion]. Like the Velvets' body of work, it's a marvelous gift to humanity. The "trainspotting research" aspect is not a problem, since this kind of exhaustive reference needs that in order to balance a half-century of rumor and legend. Especially glad to read the clarifications of the ostensible VU/Zappa animosity, and how Verve's allocation of resources was driven more by accident and incompetence than by sinister calculation.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 11:02
That Mothers/VU rivalry always mystified me. I don't think there's ever going to be a way of getting to the bottom of it. For those readers unfamiliar with this, various members of the Velvets put down the Mothers and especially Frank Zappa numerous times in interviews. They also charged or insinuated that the Mothers and/or their management had conspired to delay the release of the VU's first album so that their own first album, "Freak Out," could come out first (both bands were on Verve Records and produced by Tom Wilson). There are a couple problems with this theory that I felt obligated to point out in the name of responsible research. First, "Freak Out" was completed (in March 1966) before the VU's first album was recorded, and released (in June 1966) at a point where the VU's first album had yet to be finished. Yes, the VU's first album was already done in June except for "Sunday Morning" (done in fall 1966). But it simply seems like "Freak Out" was recorded and ready for release much earlier. My educated guess, too, is that Tom Wilson wanted to test the market with a couple of VU singles (two came out in 1966, featuring four tracks from the first album) prominently featuring Nico before committing to an album release. Plus there were probably delays associated with manufacturing the banana album sleeve, with its gatefold design and peel-off banana. A bigger interesting surprise to me was finding this quote from Frank Zappa himself about the banana album in the October 1967 issue of "Jazz & Pop": "I liked that album. I think that Tom Wilson deserves a lot of credit for making that album, because it's folk music. It's electric folk music, in the sense that what they're saying comes right out of their environment." So Zappa actually liked the Velvets, something which seems to be overlooked by accounts suggesting he and Reed couldn't stand each other's music. The whole rivalry seems to have gotten out of hand because Zappa and the VU didn't get along when they shared some bills in California in May 1966. Zappa apparently might have made a putdown remark about the VU onstage, seriously or in jest, that sparked the whole thing. Someone who booked the Velvets suggested to me that the VU might have been a little envious of the Mothers' musical abilities, which might have been superior (in conventional terms) to those of the VU in 1966. What I don't think the Velvets fully understood is that they weren't gaining any points with their fans by putting down the Mothers -- not just for the supposed conspiracy against the release of their first album, but also putting down the Mothers musically in very strong terms. A lot of VU fans (myself among them) *like* the early Mothers of Invention, and vice versa. Both groups were extremely adventurous and boundary-breaking in different ways. And the Mothers certainly weren't commercial sellouts. Just because you like the Velvet Underground shouldn't preclude you from being a big Mothers fan too.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 11:19
Another rumor sometimes reported as fact that didn't hold up for me was that the Velvets were thrown off MGM in that label's infamous purge of supposedly drug-related acts. That might seem logical given Velvets songs like "Heroin" and "Sister Ray" and MGM's move toward wholesome acts like the Osmonds. But in fact Lou Reed himself later told Creem that he didn't think that was the case, and that the main reason was that the Velvets actually wanted to leave MGM on their own (which they did in early 1970, signing with Atlantic). Also the MGM "purge" supposedly instigated by the label's Mike Curb wasn't widely reported until much later in 1970, by which time the Velvets had been off MGM for a while and recorded "Loaded" for Atlantic.
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Thu 28 May 09 13:08
Among the many small things I learned from your book: The Velvet Underground performed at a benefit for The Merce Cunningham Dance Company. The West Coast tour of the summer of 1968 sounds just great. I liked Ken Barnes' comment on the interplay of the musicians, which is something underappreciated about the band and which reinforces your earlier emphasis, Richie, that this had always been a band, rather than a singer/backing group.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 13:33
I bet the West Coast tour in the summer of 1968 was the best time to see the Cale lineup (actually the final version of the Cale lineup, to be specific, which was the quartet of Reed, Cale, Morrison, and Tucker). By then the four of them had been playing together two-and-a-half years, and Cale was likely becoming a lot more adept at playing rock than he'd been at the beginning, when most of his background was in classical and avant-garde music. If there were any good-quality live recordings from that tour, however, they haven't yet surfaced. A tragic tale (for VU collectors at any rate) recounted in the book is how a four-track tape of one of their shows with Quicksilver Messenger Service in San Diego in early July 1968 was made. Sterling Morrison said it was great, and included asong called "Sweet Rock and Roll" the Velvets never put on their records (which Lester Bangs, who was there, wrote about ecstatically in one of his pieces on the Velvets). But Morrison said the tape was stolen that very night, within seconds after it had been played at a party the same night of the concert.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 28 May 09 13:46
Following up on the note about the Merce Cunningham benefit the Velvets played, they sure did play some strange concerts. Among the weirdest: Summit High School Auditorium, Summit, New Jersey, December 11, 1965: Their first concert where they were billed as the Velvet Underground, right after Maureen Tucker joined. They played three songs"There She Goes Again," "Venus in Furs," and "Heroin"to an almost wholly uncomprehending and unappreciative audience of adolescents. "The band just emptied that auditorium," Sterling Morrison's wife Martha told me. Delmonico's Hotel, New York, Annual Dinner of the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry, January 13, 1966: Their first gig after hooking up with Warhol, playing "Heroin" with a film of a torture scene with a man tied to a chair. In front of the movie danced a real, whip-wielding guy, Gerard Malanga. The group's friend Barbara Rubin filmed the psychiatrists, at the same time confronting the 350-strong audience with embarrassing questions about their personal sexual behavior. Playboy Club, Chicago, late June-early July 1966: Verified by a photo of the event in the fall 1966 issue of Playboy's VIP magazine showing Morrison, John Cale, and Gerard Malanga onstage performing for several dancers, costumed Playboy bunnies prominently among them. Michigan State Fair Coliseum, Detroit, November 20, 1966: As part of "the world's first mod wedding happening," the Velvet Underground played traditional wedding songs sung by Nico. The newlywed mod couple received a screen test for Underground Movies from Warhol during their honeymoon trip to New York City. Warhol himself gave away the bride, after which he sat on a box of tomato soup autographing cans. Lincoln Center, New York, November 13, 1967: A fundraising benefit for public television station Channel 13 (WNET) at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, and one of their only three known gigs (all low-profile) in New York between spring 1967 and summer 1970. The program printed a menu listing "Relish Bowl, Blanquette de Veau a l'Ancienne Rice Pilaff, Glazed Baby Carrots with Chives, Cucumber & Cherry Tomato Salad with Dill, Fresh Fruit Bowl, Assorted Cheese Tray with Biscuits, Petits Fours, Demi Tasse, Champagne, [and] Cognac" as the evening's refreshments. Women's Wear Daily confirmed the next day that "tables were set up around the dance floor but when Andy Warhol's Velvet Underground rock group started tuning up, the guests chickened out, and a more sedate band took the stand." Beverly Hills High School, Late October-November 1968: Though the exact date hasn't been pinned down, we have proof it takes place, the damning evidence being a photo in the Beverly Hills High School 1968-69 yearbook of the band sitting amiably onstage with what look like various school officials and students. They were booked as a result of votes from hardcore VU fans in the student body. The Kinetic Playground, Chicago, April 25-27, 1969: For the second and last time, the Velvet Underground shared a bill with their ultimate antithesis in attitude, the Grateful Dead. According to Doug Yule's recollection in the fall/winter 1994 edition of the fanzine The Velvet Underground, "That show the Dead opened for us, we opened for them the next night so that no one could say they were the openers. As you know, the Grateful Dead play very long sets and they were supposed to only play for an hour. We were up in the dressing room and they're playing for an hour and a half and, hour and 45 minutes. So the next day when we were opening for them, Lou says, 'Huh, watch this.' And we proceeded to play a very long set. We did 'Sister Ray' for like an hour and then a whole other show." Hilltop Pop Festival, Rindge, New Hampshire, August 2, 1969: The Velvet Underground headlining an actual rock festival the same month as Woodstock, even getting billed over Van Morrison, the only other famous performer on the bill. It was a benefit to -- of all things -- buy the town of Mason, New Hampshire a new fire engine. Honorable mention: Though these took place in early 1971 after Lou Reed left the band, somehow the band still billed as the Velvet Underground -- with Doug Yule, Sterling Morrison, and Moe Tucker still aboard -- ended up playing New England ski lodges. At least they got free passes for the ski lifts. "I was kind of aghast that [manager Steve Sesnick] had them playing ski lodges, but it was really fun, and of course it was beautiful," Martha Morrison told me. "We all learned to ski."
John A. Morris (johnmorris) Thu 28 May 09 18:17
I was a roadie for the Charlatans and a friend of the incredible Lynne Hughes when Travis T Hipp's Rawhide Realities attempted to push into that rivalry between the VU and the Dead. I thought we were pretty cute but we never really stepped up to it. Oh, heady days.
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Fri 29 May 09 19:37
I had not known that "Sunday Morning" was forced on the group. I guess that means it isn't to be understood ironically. (Although, had Nico sung it as apparently intended....) What other songs turned up surprises, Richie?
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 29 May 09 20:59
It might be better to say that "Sunday Morning" wasn't so much forced on the group -- I think they would have recorded it whether or not producer Tom Wilson wanted to make it a single and add it to the first album. I think it was more a case of Wilson wanting a single featuring Nico at a point where the group considered the first album completed and were impatiently waiting for its release. I don't think they or Reed were reluctant to record the song per se; what Paul Morrissey emphasized in his interview with me, however, was that Reed was *very* opposed to Nico singing it. Morrissey put down the song quite mercilessly in his interview, calling it "a terrible song. It was kind of a Simon & Garfunkel doo-dee doo-dee thing." I have to say I disagree quite strongly with that opinion. I think it's a great song, and does much to add to the balance of the first album, setting off the more scabrous songs like "Heroin" and "I'm Waiting for the Man." Also I don't think Lou Reed meant it ironically. Like some other Velvets songs (like "Femme Fatale," about Edie Sedgwick), it was specifically instigated by a suggestion by Andy Warhol, who asked Lou if he could write a song about paranoia. Hence the line, according to a 1972 Reed interview, "Watch out, the world's behind you." He said, " I figure that's the ultimate paranoid statement, that you're being watched all the time. When actually no one gives a damn." More on some songs that turned up surprises with the next post.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 29 May 09 21:17
I already talked about how finding out that "White Light/White Heat" was partly inspired by occult writings by Alice Bailey was one of the most interesting and illuminating surprises in writing the book. Another was that, according to filmmaker Rosalind Stevenson, "All Tomorrow's Parties" (Andy Warhol's favorite VU song) was written for use in the soundtrack to her film "Deux Voix," starring Elektrah Lobel, who played with Reed and Cale briefly in a band called the Falling Spikes around 1965. One prominent Velvet Underground song that always puzzled me very much, though I like it a lot, is "Jesus," from their third album. Its humble reverential Christian religious tone just doesn't seem like something Reed would write, or at least believe. He's Jewish, for one thing, but of more importance, he just didn't write anything else with that kind of religiously devout flavor with the Velvets. Part of the mystery was solved for me when I found an obscure 1971 interview where he explained that his songs are "all supposed to be little plays. I would see myself as the lead part because I'm a ham, so I would give myself the lead singer role and I would write myself out this dialogue, then I would play different characters. You notice they all have characters which are completely different. And so people used to say 'that must be you' or 'THAT must be you,' but they couldn't figure out how I could be the same person because the people in the songs were different, sometimes they would be opposite. For instance you'd have 'Heroin' and then you'd have the opposite with 'Jesus.'" So it's at least to some degree a character he's taking on when he writes/sings "Jesus," probably not a reflection of any short-lived zeal for Christianity. "Train Round the Bend," one of their more minor songs to be honest (off "Loaded"), was the source of some amusing contradictory speculations. Doug Yule once said when introducing the song at one of the final post-Reed VU gigs that it was about the Long Island Railroad (five Velvets, by the way, grew up in Long Island: Reed, Morrison, Tucker, and both Yules). Steve Nelson, who often booked the band in Massachusetts, strongly differed, and said it was about the VU playing Western Massachusetts shows for him -- for which they had to take a train for New York -- and pining to go back to the big city. "After Hours" is usually thought of as one of the more minor VU songs, but hearing live tapes from late 1969, it's interesting to hear how heartily it was applauded by the audience. That was mostly because it gave fans their only chance to hear Maureen Tucker sing. It was kind of like a lower-level version of the Ringo Starr phenomenon, where Beatlemania audiences would scream their lungs out when Paul McCartney introduced the one song that Ringo sang per Beatles show.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 29 May 09 21:29
One big surprise for me that didn't relate to a specific song, but certainly related strongly to the material, was finding how Reed viewed each of the VU's albums (especially the first three) as something like chapters in a book that should be heard in sequence. That sounds like something he might have said once or twice because it made a good soundbite, or only said many years later in retrospect. But he said this in interviews a number of times, going back to the late 1960s. He even said in one obscure early-'70s interview that he wished MGM would have issued all three albums together -- not something that would have been commercially practical for a band like the Velvets, but you can see how his point is valid if you leave the economics aside. I think this explains, to some degree, the radical shifts in tone between the three albums, and especially between the second and third albums. To generalize, "White Light/White Heat" is one of the most aggressive and noisiest albums of its time; "The Velvet Underground," which followed just a year later, is unbelievably *quiet*. Each of the records *could* have been more balanced; some gentle melodic songs Reed had already written before "White Light/White Heat" were left off that album, and some noisier harder-rocking things had been written by the time of "The Velvet Underground" but were not used on that LP. But Reed said, again more than once, that "White Light/White Heat" was kind of designed to be the most ferocious extreme experience possible, deliberately sequenced so that the most outrageous cut ("Sister Ray") was last. "The Velvet Underground," in his view, was how characters such as the ones he wrote about in "Sister Ray" kind of came out of the other side of that experience into something more introspective and subdued, as you couldn't take the kind of lifestyle narrated in "Sister Ray" any further without imploding. He also emphasized that within the separate LPs, the songs were also deliberately sequenced to tell a story of sorts, even if it wasn't as obvious a concept album as something like "Tommy." Of the third album, for instance, he said in a November 1969 radio interview: "Its not just arbitrary,. Theyre all supposed to complement the preceding song. Like on the third album, Candy Says had this person asking all these questions, and then What Goes On kind of asked like one specific one, and then Some Kind Of Love and Pale Blue Eyes explicated some of it. It just went on and on and on. Thats why the first side closed with Jesus, and then the second side was Beginning To See The Light. And then it went all the way to like Thats The Story Of My Life, which like summed up the whole thing. And then after you got that far and figured it had everything solved, then you hit The Murder Mystery, which is like the next step past it.
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Sat 30 May 09 03:33
Takimg the albums as chapters makes mote sense of "Jesus," too. It only comes *after* "Heroin," "Sister Ray," and so on. What would have been next, if Lou had stayed?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 30 May 09 07:37
Richie, considering the question of Reed's departure, you say "one wonders why [he] didn't simply replace Doug Yule (as Tucker has already sugested), fire Sesnick, and continue The Velvet Underground with Morrison and Tucker." Just reading about the state of things preceding his departure, I'm thinking he was depressed and couldn't imagine any scenario that would work for him... that it was more about his state of mind and the state of his emotions. Logic wouldn't apply.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Sat 30 May 09 08:35
In retrospect, it's hard to imagine the Velvets hanging together for another album with Reed, at least as long as the manager with whom he was having problems (Steve Sesnick) was on the scene. As I said earlier, I do think "Loaded" had a much better chance of being the commercial success they hoped for had Lou Reed stuck around and toured with the VU after its release. As several comments by band members have indicated,"Loaded" was definitely recorded and produced with the mindset of each track being a potential hit, or at least something that would pick up a lot of FM airplay. If that had worked and "Loaded" had made the Top Forty of the album charts, that in turn might have given Reed second thoughts about starting a solo career, at least for a while. But it might have also stirred unwelcome pressures to become yet *more* commercial to sustain that success, which Reed could well have been resistant to. But had they stayed together for one more record, Reed *did* already have at least an album's worth of good songs written by the time he left in mid-1970. Many of these showed up on his early solo albums; in fact his first album, 1972's "Lou Reed," is almost *all* VU leftovers. So let's say Sesnick was fired, Reed stayed on after "Loaded"'s release, and that album *was* the commercial breakthrough, in at least the modest way, that it was intended. The next album's track list could have gone something like this: "We're Gonna Have a Good Time Together" "Lisa Says" "Satellite of Love" "I Can't Stand It" "Andy's Chest" "Stephanie Says" (or "Caroline Says," as it morphed into by the time of Reed's "Berlin") "She's My Best Friend" "Wild Child" "Sweet Bonnie Brown"/"It's Just Too Much" "Over You" "Ride into the Sun" "Ocean" That's not the greatest of albums, but it's a pretty good one. Maureen Tucker would have been back in the lineup, which itself might have been a good thing for the sound of the record, though it's doubtful the band would have gone back to the relative pre-"Loaded" rawness. In a way the CD of a live Reed solo show from December 26, 1972 ("American Poet") might be a rough approximation of what the Velvets would have been playing. Half the songs had been released by the VU, and some of the others had been recorded and/or performed (though not released) by the VU when Reed was in the lineup; mixed in were other highlights of Reed's early '70s solo albums, like "Vicious," "Walk on the Wild Side," and "Berlin." His backup band (not including any ex-Velvets) was still playing in a fairly rough'n'ready style. It's a recommended CD if you're a VU/Reed fan and haven't yet heard it. Had this alternate scenario played it, though, bear in mind that we wouldn't have had the good solo records Reed made in the early 1970s. I don't like "Lou Reed" (the album) much, but "Transformer" and "Berlin," both of which have some VU leftovers, are both very worthwhile and likely gave Reed the chance to do some work in a different style than he could have as part of the Velvet Underground.
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