The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
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Sunday Morning A+
All you have to do is take a listen to this song and realize that The Velvet Underground are accessible after all. The melody isn't unlike something that any old pop act of the day could conceivably come out with. What was uniquely The Velvet Underground was that drowsy and eery drugged-up atmosphere. John Cale's viola is this album's signature sound, and you can hear it play long-drawn-out and hazy notes in the background. Cale also had the brilliant idea to play a celesta throughout this, which was the one instrumental touch that most people find memorable about this song. Lou Reed's lead vocals (which were originally intended for Nico's vocals) sounds like how I feel after taking a Benadryl.
I'm Waiting For the Man A+
This song is about DRUGS! Even if you weren't listening to the lyrics, you would probably suspect that about it, because it sounds like its on drugs. It's characterized by a pounding piano and drums and Lou Reed's deadpan vocal performance. The atmosphere isn't nearly as lush as the previous song, but it's still thick and quite gritty. But through all that, they have a hooky tune, and that pounding piano plays quite a catchy riff.
Femme Fatale A+
Here is Nico, one of the most unloved creatures in all rock 'n' roll. I don't know why people bother to hate her, though. Her voice is spooky, like some sort of German ghoul, and she fits the hazy, drugged up atmosphere of this wonderfully. Then again, perhaps I've gotten so used to this album that I won't even dare to picture it sounding any other way? This song is easily one of the most accessible ones, and I would imagine it wouldn't sound all that out-of-place on a Henry Mancini soundtrack. The strings and keyboards play familiar patterns and the song is structured with a traditional verses and chorus. But this song is catchy! I mean, Duran Duran covered this.
Venus in Furs A+
Yes, I'm just overloading this with A+s! What else can I do? These songs are great! This song has a definite Indian influence, but it's not even remotely similar to The Beatles' “Within You Without You” released that same year. Rather, Cale recreates the droning tambura sound with his viola, and they play some slowly paced, clompy percussion. It's quite mesmerizing! And the melody is even catchy. I could imagine Frank Sinatra turning this into one of his awful songs, except it wouldn't have been that awful.
Run Run Run A-
The squeaky feedback sounds purposefully used in this song was a revolution at the time. But what band was the first to ever do that in rock 'n' roll? The Beatles. But I suppose The Beatles' use of feedback sounded more civilized than this, with those squeaky noises coming as a result of an extremely fast-paced and off-kilter electric guitar solo. It's a good song as well although the pounding guitar riffs aren't nearly as potent as the previous songs, and the melody isn't great either.
All Tomorrow's Parties A+
Once again, Nico takes the lead vocals, and she's chilling. Perhaps she might not be an ordinary singer, but who the hell defines what a “singer” is, anyway? Her deep voice takes command over this song like some sort of evil countess. She sings a catchy tune as well, and it's no surprise that acts like Nick Cave and Japan pulled out excellent cover versions of this. The vocal melody is quite simple, but what keeps it unique of course is that pounding piano in the background and those almost picked-at guitars noodling around. They keep that rather unkempt texture going throughout its entire six minutes, and I never break my concentration on it.
I wonder how many people could have predicted these scores? Of course I only give A+s to songs that could easily be translated into an ordinary pop-song! ...I suppose someone could come along and turn this into a pop song, but it would take a lot away from the original. Anyway, this is quite a weird song mostly due to the tempo, which increases and decreases in speed at will. John Cale's viola drones away in the background, sounding like my ears are ringing. The ugly feedback noise and screechy sounds are amplified throughout this, which I suppose makes it more artful.
There She Goes Again B+
The Rolling Stones' take on this riff was way more effective, because every time I hear this song, I'm still anticipating hearing Mick Jagger boisterous vocals coming in singing “Hitch hike!” I suppose borrowing Marvin Gaye's riff was a fairly terrible idea and constitutes one of this album's greatest weaknesses. It's a good riff, but why couldn't they have written one of their own?
I'll Be Your Mirror A
It would be quite a thing if I looked in the mirror and saw Nico. Although if Wikipedia is to be trusted, Nico said she approached Reed after a show and told him that she wanted to be his mirror, which was what inspired him to write this song. It's easily the least fascinating of the Nico numbers, but it does have a nice melody.
The Black Angel's Death Song A-
Yes, I talk the good talk about being a fan of music that's weird just for weird's sake. And, to tell you the truth, this song doesn't seem all that weird to me anymore since I've listened to this album enough times! Its main appeal has got to be its dissonant atmosphere, created particularly with that two-note viola blaring off throughout as well as that strange steam sound that pops up occasionally. The atmosphere is interesting, but not entirely immersible, and I do find it mildly irritating.
European Son A-
Some reviewers have called this thing nothing but an extreme mess, and it's easy to hear why they thought so. This is pretty messy. Like “Heroin” before it, they seem to slow down and speed up the tempo as they feel like it, and prefer instrumentation that's cluttery instead of clean and coherent. This is more of a wave of noise than it is a song even though we do hear Lou Reed sing in it occasionally. These jumbles of noises interests me, however, and I'm not quite as turned off by it as “Heroin.”
White Light/White Heat (1967)
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White Light/White Heat A
The Velvet Underground brought back what was probably the most appealing aspect of their debut album... That rapidly pulsating piano! But behind that weird piano, it's a basic '50s-rock boogie-rock groove that's sped up a bit. Many early punk bands would claim that this song was a major inspiration for their sound! (What is punk, anyway? Sped up '50s music!) Lou Reed takes on the lead vocals and he sings it in a rather conversational manner as opposed to the scream-singing that most '50s bands would do. Though, like many '50s rock songs, Reed engages in a call-and-response with some back-up singers. This is a rather short song (less than three minutes) and the last 40 seconds or so are taken up by a crazy, distorted guitar jam. All in all, this is an excellently exciting song. The melody is catchy, and it's fun to listen to. It's rather ugly and many mainstream listeners probably won't connect too well with it. But that's their loss. Another reason I like this, I saw David Bowie sing this song live twice, so it has some good memories attached to it.
The Gift A-
This is an eight-minute piece consisting of a heavy groove while John Cale reads off a short story. That sounds awful, right? Fortunately, I find it to be rather fun listening to that heavy, elephant groove chug along. I'm not sure if it's a figment of my imagination or not, but the chug seems to get more menacing as it goes along. I'm not a huge fan of listening to spoken words in music, but there's at least something creepy about hearing Cale read off words in a very straitlaced manner. To make this even less accessible, they bring back their practice at the end of their previous album of letting this deafening, squeaky feedback sounds come in here and there. I'm wondering if they actually planned those, or just decided to let one rip whenever it came about. Like a fart.
Lady Godiva's Operation A-
Maude! I saw that show on TV Land a few times back in the day. What a terrible TV show!!! Anyway, like “White Light/White Heat” before it, this is a normal song at its core. More than that, it's even a good normal song at its core. It has a catchy riff, a nice chuggy riff, and a simple though effective melody. But then these guys go out of their way to make it as freaky as possible. John Cale takes the lead vocals, and he sings out of key. The ultra-fuzzy guitars give the song a strange, sick feeling. Toward the end, Lou Reed starts to talk the lyrics very loudly over John Cale, and we're never sure why. And by the end, everybody's making whirly airplane noises. The production is all very muddy, too.
Here She Comes Now B+
This is another song that's difficult for me to put my finger on. It seems more or less like a half-written song that they weren't entirely sure how to play before getting into the recording studio. The guitars, while they play some interesting things, seem rather unsure of themselves. Did they make up this whole thing on the spot? Lou Reed doesn't come up with anything more interesting to say than repeating the song title over and over again. It's only two minutes long and ends with a fade-out. Hm... I sort of like listening to it, because they come up with some appealingly washy textures, and Reed manages to eke out a relatively coherent vocal melody.
I Heard Her Call My Name? B
Over all that racket? They did at least save the album's most unlistenable songs for the end of the album, so you won't miss any of the good stuff before you turn this album off in disgust. I'm having a difficult time bearing through all those screechy distortion-ridden guitars, even though I'm fully aware they're playing it poorly on purpose! What they did do correctly was giving this tons of energy, so I'm quite well inclined to bearing through it all. Lou Reed takes on strangely boisterous vocals, but he's singing it poorly and off-key on purpose. ...And I suppose I shouldn't be describing it as “poor,” because that was kind of the point. Well anyway, this is difficult to listen to, but it works. What doesn't always work are those awful bands this inspired!
Sister Ray B-
I went through this overblown tirade in the review I wrote of this album in 2003, but I don't have the energy anymore. But this song is really trying on the ears and on the heart. It's 17 and a half minutes long, it consists of a chugging groove, and Lou Reed sings the entire time about his ding-dong. John Cale provides some wandering organ noodling that was routed through a guitar amplifier, and the result is something like what a cat would sound while it's being tortured by Satan. Making a song like this was certainly groundbreaking, and it's surprising the record company even allowed them to release it. To me, it's much more theoretically interesting than it is entertaining, although at least they keep that rhythm going on steadily throughout it.
The Velvet Underground (1969)
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Candy Says A
I don't know about you, but this song is a *pleasant* shock. After attempting to digest the closing song from White Light / White Heat, the last thing I would have expected to hear is this sleepy and extremely slowly paced, jangly folk tune. The melody, sung by newcomer Doug Yule, is so solid and catchy that it rivals (but doesn't quite exceed, in my opinion) the best stuff from their debut album. The lyrics are quite good, centering around the thoughts of a transvestite (“Candy says, I've come to hate my body / and all that requires in this world / Candy says, I'd like to know completely / what all the souls discretely talk about”)
What Goes On A
This is one of the faster paced, rock 'n' roll numbers, and it's quite good. The guitars crunch along in an appealing manner, and the upbeat melody is catchy and fun to listen to. There's a hint at their past when they let some long-drawn-out guitars take over a solo in the middle of it, but there's almost no distortion to be seen. There's a simple organ playing basic chords in the background, which isn't much, but it adds body to the song. As a whole, this song is almost normal, but it still has that weird edge to it that makes it stick apart from the standard songs.
Some Kinda Love B+
This is one reason why I can't quite agree with some critics' assessments that this album is better than their debut. While this song isn't bad through any stretch of the imagination, it's rather monotonous and uninteresting, which is a stark contrast to how rich and powerful I found the songs on their debut album. This is based on a repetitive mid-tempo guitar groove while Lou Reed talk-sings (in that Lou Reed way) through the lyrics. They use wobbly guitars to create that groove, which gives it a texture.
Pale Blue Eyes A
This is similar to “Candy Says.” It's a very, very slow ballad. Also like “Candy Says,” it has an excellent melody! Lou Reed takes on the lead vocals this time, and he delivers the lyrics with a convincing warmth to them. They're not too complicated, at first anyway, but the delivery makes it sound genuine. (“Sometimes I feel so happy / Sometimes I feel so sad / Sometimes I feel so happy / But mostly you just make me mad / Baby you just make me mad / Linger on, your pale blue eyes.”) The guitars, once again, are playing a monotonous groove, but this time they succeed in hypnotizing me. This is nearly six minutes long and I swear I hardly notice the time flying by.
What do these heathens know about Jesus?!?! Actually, this song is potentially much more useful to religious people than the vast majority of CCM songs I hear. Lou Reed has a way of singing as though he genuinely means it, and here he sounds like he's searching desperately for meaning to his life through Jesus. (“Jesus, help me find my proper place / Help me in my weakness / 'Cause I'm falling out of grace.”) So, there you go. From the same guy who sings about sucking on ding-dongs.
Beginning to See the Light A
After singing about Jesus, he's singing about seeing the light? Perhaps this shows these guys were closet Christians. Anyway, this is yet another one of those great Velvet Underground tunes. Its melody is simple but effective and memorable. The somewhat monotonous, chuggy texture seems like a watered down version of “I'm Waiting For the Man,” and I kind of like that they revisited those ideas and applied it to somewhat more poppier music.
I'm Set Free B-
Not my particular cup of tea, this one. It's very slow and dreary with the flooded guitars that overshadow the vocals. The drumming is similarly uninteresting, particularly in the 'instrumental interlude,' which just chugs along at a monotonous pace. Given that this is The Velvet Underground, I have to assume that they did all of this on purpose and it was all for art. I can appreciate it, but in this case I'm not completely with them.
That's the Story of My Life B+
Quite a bit more pleasant and poppy than the previous song, which I appreciate of course, but it doesn't seem to want to be anything beyond that. It's devoid of emotion. Then again, maybe that was the point. The story of his life was devoid of emotion.
The Murder Mystery A
For some reason, this has always been my favorite of The Velvet Underground's weird experimental pieces even though it's nine minutes long and I don't understand a word of it. It goes back and forth between a purposefully amateurishly sung song and some very sped up talking. The song is simple, consisting of two people singing over each other and a disjointed organ groove, and the talking is completely unintelligible. The final third consists of a strange piano groove and more of that talking. So much for ever learning the outcome of this murder mystery! I'm not exactly sure why I like this. Maybe it's the mildly catchy (mostly because it's extremely simple and repetitive) melody as well as the freaky atmosphere. But as it is, it's nine minutes long, and I could take it even longer.
After Hours A-
Quite a good old timey tune sung by Maureen Tucker, who is by all standards, pretty much a non-singer. But I suppose having a non-singer perform such a derivative song gives it an extra dimension. Nonetheless, it has a nice tune, so I couldn't possibly hate it.
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Who Loves the Sun A
I guess they weren't really much for opening with a big blast! Although what we have here is a rather nicely done, laid-back pop tune. ...That's right, this is a full-on pop album, which would later point to the more radio-friendly direction Lou Reed's career would take immediately after this. There is nothing very special about the instrumentation... Strummy acoustic guitars, a simple shuffly drum pattern, some Turtles-style back-up singers singing “ba-ba-ba-bam!” The melody is simple, but it's catchy. They interrupt its steady flow with an odd, 10-second diversion at roughly the two-minute mark. What was that all about? The lyrics are OK, and to answer their question, I care about the sun. I love it even if it broke your heart. The sun grows food and makes electricity.
Sweet Jane A
I think this song is more famous for the cover Mott the Hoople did of it. That version has some sexy glam magic, but this version is more slowly paced and well textured. This version might be slightly better (mostly because Lou Reed's vocals are more stylin' and passionate), but it doesn't have that sexy glam magic, does it? ...And yes, they're now writing songs so poppy that it became one of the more memorable moments for Mott the Hoople. The riff is very catchy, and it's fun listening to it with another simple drum line. The chorus is great.
Rock & Roll A+
This is the song that plays when you discover rock 'n' roll in Civilization IV. It's like this song is the ambassador for rock 'n' roll for the universe. I suppose listening to this song, it's not such a huge surprise that Lou Reed would eventually work with David Bowie in an attempt to become an awesome glam superstar. Indeed, it's not really a stretch of the imagination to think this was one of the songs that got David Bowie himself going... The fast paced, tight guitar riffs, and Lou Reed's extra-stylin', larger-than-life vocals all ring of pre-glam to me. It's a great song, too. Extremely catchy and a lot of fun. That must be what rock 'n' roll is all about!
Cool it Down A
That's great advice; I think I am going to cool it down! ...Well, I must say I feel a little bit wrong giving a song like this an A, because it's obvious to me that they were just messing around for this one.... but what can I say? I like it! It has a chugging, mid-tempo rhythm that's fun to listen to, but not anything particularly special. It's Lou Reed's vocals that I find so amusing. He dubs himself singing the vocals twice, and he sings it in the most ridiculously smarmy way that he could muster. It's like he thinks he's the coolest kid in school, but we're not sure the other kids are on board with that.
New Age B+
Awww... This is the first song here I actually get bored with. It's slow paced, and the only thing interesting going on with the instrumentation is its tendency to build-up and get louder as the song progresses. (Without that quality, I don't think there would have been much of a chance of this song being any good!) Guitars chug along sluggishly, and so do the drums, which seem awfully low in the mix much of the time. The melody isn't too memorable, and Reed seems a bit dull singing it. The lyrics aren't bad.
Head Held High A-
Yes sir, gimme that dirty old rock 'n' roll with the overblown, smarmy vocals. That's the only way you're going to entertain me in this album, apparently. ...I'm not terribly sure how to describe this! Maybe it sounds like a song The Rolling Stones recorded in 1969 but had quickly abandoned. (That extra-guttural way Reed sings these vocals do have a Mick Jagger feeling to them, and the rough back-up vocals are very Stonesy.) The reason they abandon it is because the riff wasn't great and so they could afford to leave it... At any rate, this is a fun song. Like “Cool it Down,” it sounds like they're just goofing off, but I'm very much enjoying it.
Lonesome Cowboy Bill A-
Yet another sloppy old rocker and therefore an enjoyable old rocker. Doug Yule sings this one more or less straight (so you don't have to worry about him speaking with an outlandish Texas accent or yodeling or anything). My main complaint about it is just that it's not terribly memorable. The melody is somewhat generic, but the instrumentation at least is fast, sloppy and fresh. No doubt, you'll want to tap your foot to it.
I Found a Reason C
...I found a reason not to call Loaded the best album of the Velvet Underground discography! That would have been easy to do, with an album with “Rock & Roll” in it and other assorted outlandish rock 'n' roll songs on it. But this verrrry slow ballad is a big ole dead spot on the album. They're still goofing off with this, making fun of the slow ballads they used to make in the '50s except performing it with their sloppy instrumentation standards for this album. (Lou Reed delivers a monologue in the middle of this.) If they made the atmosphere more interesting, instead of simply leaving it at a couple boringly strummed guitars and an uninvolved drum line. The melody is forgettable. ...Yawn.
Train Round the Bend B+
I have no idea how they did this, but they create a droning, scratching noise that sounds like a train chugging. That's easily the song's most distinguishing characteristic, but we also get some good electric guitar licks and a fun, toe-tapping groove. Lou Reed sounds like he was a little bit drunk when he sang this, letting his vocals flail up and down and occasionally shrieking, which gives me the impression that he didn't care what it would sound like. At any rate, this is an enjoyable song.
Oh! Sweet Nuthin' A-
This is very similar to “Hey Jude;” it's a lengthy song in which they repeat its chorus forever and ever until an epic-style fade-out. This album was designed to be filled with hits, and I guess these sorts of songs were big in 1970. They do a pretty good job of it, although I don't find it terribly exhilarating. The melody is alright. The instrumentals are fine, but nothing greatly special. It's a fine listen, but doesn't quite end this album with the *pow* that I might have been expecting from a closer in the style of “Hey Jude.”
Live at Max's Kansas City (1972)
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I'm Waiting For the Man B
Alright. Well. It seems that when they issued this on CD they added all sorts of extra stuff to it. In the original LP version, every track pretty much just started and stopped with the actual songs. But here, there's about a minute and a half worth of hearing the small audience chatter, and the band warming up their instruments. Take it or leave it? Well, I suppose you could use it to fantasize that you were there listening to the proceedings, if you want! Of course you'd better not fantasize that Maureen Tucker is there, because she ISN'T! It's Doug Yule's brother temporarily filling in. And... er... He likes to play loudly doesn't he? Throwing in all sorts of clunky fills whenever he feels like it. Other than that, this isn't too bad. I hear the recording break off a few times. This doesn't sound much different than a recording I would have made with my Fisher Price tape recorder when I was a kid. …Other than that, it's kind of fun. Upbeat. Morrison gives a pretty cool solo. Reed, when you can hear him clearly, gives a nice boisterous performance. He pretty much growls at one point. ...You can dance to this, if you want to.
White Light / White Heat A-
I almost don't think I should be writing too much on these track reviews, since I don't think anybody likes this album. Unless I'm mistaken, I think I hear Lou Reed say that this song is based on a romantic novel from the 1840s! ...Is that funny? ...Oh yeah. Well, this is a great song, and the docked points are for the recording quality. ...And I gotta say, I'm not thrilled about this drummer, and this awful recording quality pretty much means he drowns everything out including Reed's vocals much of the time. ...I'd might as well copy and paste that statement in all these track reviews. Other than that, it's pretty fun. I mean, you can't argue with The Velvet Underground performing this song, can you? They create a bit of mayhem at the end, that's a little hard to explain. ...Jumbled noise? ...Awesome. ...Once you make it through the song, you hear more audience chatter and Morrison practicing with his guitar. I think I'm hearing Reed instruct the drummer to play the next song slowly... probably a good idea...
I'm Set Free C+
Alright, I'm overwriting these track reviews again. Here's a song I never cared much for, so I can write this one shorter. ...Er. It's not exciting or particularly fun to listen to. The guitar playing doesn't interest me terribly much. Reed's vocals are very low in the mix. The drummer still loves to play loooooudly and put in all these sloppy fills all over the place. ...There's a little bit of polite applause at the end.
Sweet Jane (Version 1) B+
I think it might be somewhat obvious I'm just giving the high-ish ratings to the songs I originally liked. Well doesn't that make sense??? This one in particular is fun to listen to for the most part, because it has a good melody, catchy riff, and Reed's vocal performance (when you can hear it) is spirited. The recording quality is especially awful. I can hear the tape spaz out a couple of times.
Lonesome Cowboy Bill (Version 1) B-
And everyone says in unison They needed two versions of this? At the beginning of this, I can hear somebody talking really loudly, more loudly than we've ever heard Reed in this. He sounds like he's on some kind of narcotic... It would've been funny if Joe Friday from Dragnet came on this tape and interrupted him and gave him a stern lecture about how drugs are bad. ...Hah, that would have made this live about about 10,000,000 times more entertaining. Anyway, here's a rough and rude version of “Lonesome Cowboy Bill.” Again, the recording is terrible. It's a nice song, and they turn it into another mayhem-ridden jam toward the end, which is sort of fun. ...And there's one person clapping at the end of it. …Wow.
New Age C
According to Wikipedia, the person we keep on hearing in this is author Jim Carroll, who can apparently be heard ordering drugs... I'll keep an ear out for that, but I'm not hugely interested in pinpointing the exact spot of this occurrence. ...Once again, this is another poorly recorded performance. I wasn't huge about the original song, and thus I'm even less huge about this live version.
Beginning to See the Light B+
I like this song, so I'll give it a higher rating. That's the pattern! Energetic? Oh yeah. Drums too loud and with dumb fills? Yeah. Can I hear Lou Reed very well? NOPE. ...Here we go again.
Who Loves the Sun B
That was weird... they just sort of suddenly start playing this... No chatter or anything? Hm. ...This is a song so good that I'll call it SWELL. I like how the recording quality is the worst I've heard it so far. It's fuzzy, fuzzzzzzzzy.
Sweet Jane (Version 2) B+
Again? Eh? ...Well, thanks! ...I really don't have anything to say about this. You don't care about it. I don't care about it. Blah blah blah.
I'll Be Your Mirror B+
Lou Reed announces at the beginning that they're going to play “I'll Be Your Mirror,” and one person in the audience starts howling to which Reed responds with a deadpan “Thank you very much.” This is a good song to hear because it was Nico who played it in the original recording, and of course she was somewhere in Germany making ice cubes with her eyes. ...But once again, the poor recording quality doesn't make it that much worth hearing. ...It's a good song, though.
Pale Blue Eyes B
I'm getting very tired of these extended periods of hearing people in the club chatting away... Especially here, because I can hear them talking over the music sometimes... Linger on, audience chatter..................... (There's one guy talking in particular who I can hear very loudly... Shut it, you douche! I'm tryin' to listen to The Velvet Underground!) They also play this song for a loooooooong time (seven minutes), and it never gets past this sleepy drone. Nice melody, though, of course.
Candy Says C+
Ah there's nothing like the sleepy drone of “Candy Says” to help us get out of the funk that the previous song left us….......... Does it have a nice melody? Yeah. It's a great song. But stick with the studio version. (And what is that I hear? A waitress? Glasses clinking? Eh??? ...I can clearly hear someone's conversation louder than I can hear Lou Reed sing... He apparently saw Patton recently. Did you know President Nixon sent troops into Cambodia after he saw Patton? ...Gee, thank you, random person talking through a Velvet Underground concert, for telling me that bit of info. ….....I feel a little bit like Gene Hackman in The Conversation. I bet you didn't see that movie yet, person talking at The Velvet Underground concert. Cos it didn't exist yet. Hahahahhhh!)
Sunday Morning B+
SUNDAY MORNING! IT BRINGS THE DAWN IN! AND I'VE GOT A FEELING! I DON'T WANT TO KNOW! ...I'm enjoying this one, I guess. ...yay.
After Hours B
There's another good movie. After Hours. That guy didn't see After Hours because it wouldn't come out for another 15 years. BOO YAH!!!! ...Hey, I guess Lou Reed is taking advantage of the fact that Maureen Tucker isn't there, so he gets to sing the song that she usually does! (He says it's a fun song to sing at the beginning of this. Yup, it sounds like he's having fun.) Once again, I can hear people talking through this, although no specific conversations this time.
Femme Fatale B+
Great soooooonggggggggggggg... People in the audience are so casually excited about it! ...I hear a woman nearby the tape recorder singing a bit through it... Sounds like the next Maureen Tucker...
Some Kinda Love C-
It sounds like someone brushed something against the microphone tape recorder at the beginning of this. ...I think I even her the person who recorded this talking about the tape recorder. Whoah... Anyway, this is another blah-be-blah-be-blah. I'm not terribly excited about this song to begin with, and the tape recorder spazzes out through this so much that it's can be a bit nauseous if you're listening to this with headphones. Like I am. Barf. And why the hell is this track more than 11 minutes long? It's so booooringggggggggggggggggg. No wonder Lou Reed left the band shortly after this. He was bored.
Lonesome Cowboy Bill (Version 2) B-
Cowboy Bill couldn't have been that lonesome if his song was played twice on this live album....... I'm just sayin'........ Once again, this isn't terribly great. It's listenable for sure, but … eh. Eheheheheh. Bob Dole rules. (For the lack of anything else to say.)
In case you were curious, you'll find the hidden track right next to “Lonesome Cowboy Bill.” This is a very silly, extremely sarcastic radio advertisement for this album. By the sound of his voice, it sounds like he's making fun of Chris Hansen... except Chris Hansen didn't exist yet, so I find that to be quite an amazing paradox. I mean, this is serious, freaky Twilight Zone stuff.
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Little Jack A-
That's right. This song really isn't that bad. ...Really, the whole album isn't too bad. The riff isn't great but it's fine, and the melody is nicely written. Yule sings it in a perfectly V.U. sort of way, trying to keep their deadpan style going. I mean, it might not be Lou Reed, but I'll take this over “I Found a Reason” any day of the week. It's upbeat, toe-tapping. I like the messy electric guitar solos they intertwine through this. Nothing genius of course like on Eric Clapton's “Layla,” but I enjoy it. ...So there. If this song murders Velvet Underground's good reputation, then you're taking them way too seriously.
I read a review of this album on allmusic.com stating that it was all a shameless rip-off of Loaded. ...But this piano-pop ditty sounds more like they ripped off the melody of The Beatles' “When I'm Sixty-Four” while orchestrating it with the piano from “Martha My Dear.” I also don't know why it is, but it sounds like someone was screwing around with the panning knob. It's making me a bit nauseous! Anyway, this isn't a terribly great song, but it's not bad. It's decent piano pop.
Once again, how is this ripping off Loaded? This sounds more like it's ripped off the early Beach Boys. The ultra-clean rhythm section is updated for the '70s of course and perhaps sounds a little bit glammy. (When this song starts, it feels like they're about to play some New York Dolls.) Then the tight harmonies in the background are right out of a Beach Boys album as well as a very brief and old-fashioned guitar solo. It's nothing that blows my mind away, but it's hardly terrible.
Mean Old Man B
Well I'll have to say this is a pretty dumb song. But that's because this is a GLAM song. Like something out of a Sweet album. The guitars are poppy, the drum beat is fresh and clean, and the chorus is simple and dumb. ...It's not great—the melody is a bit weak—and Yule's plain-man vocals seem out of place for it. But again, this is not anything like Loaded. If anything this is probably the sort of thing Velvet Underground would have done anyway if Lou Reed were still in it. (I mean... Transformer... yeah...)
Dopey Joe B+
OK. This is another glam song. Was Loaded a glam album, or something? I don't think so, bro. (Stephen Thomas Erlewine is full of crap.) And you know what else? I'm actually really enjoying this. They use some swinging saxophones to keep the rhythm poppy, as well as another nice bout of guitar solos. Again, hardly Eric Clapton level, but fun. Rock 'n' roll is supposed to be fun, isn't it? The weakest link, once again, has gotta be Yule's vocals. You can hear him trying, desperately, to let out a falsetto “Woooooooo!” at the end of this like Lou Reed probably would... But he just can't do it. His voice cracks. I mean, mine would, too.
Er... Well... Now look, I'm not married to Doug Yule or anything. I just happen to think the poor guy has been given a bum rap through history. A reader comment on the Mark Prindle board alerted me that those assholes at the rock 'n' roll hall of fame wouldn't induct him in. ...Sheesh. I mean, never mind that he was with the band when they did some of their most famous songs! Anyway. This song isn't too good, though... Hardly an atrocity, but you know, this is rock 'n' roll and not some sort of genocidal dictatorship. (People take rock music too seriously... I mean, I take it seriously sometimes, but I shouldn't.) This is a very monotonous piano pop song. Mostly two chords that goes back and forth. His vocals have been pretty awful on this album, and they sound worse here coupled with that blocky piano. The melody isn't anything interesting. Kinda dull. ...Next. Can't really defend you on this one, Doug.
She'll Make You Cry A-
Here's another song in this notoriously bad album that I'm really kind of enjoying. Seems like a perfectly decent pop song. It has a nice chugging beat, and Yule's simple melody is quite hooky. He's also not trying to over-sing it like he was with a glam tune, rather he's using his deadpan vocals to the best of their ability. Nothing that blows my socks off me, but it's a nice toe-tapping little song.
This ballad is pretty! The sleepy melody sounds like it could have been on their debut album... Except of course, they don't orchestrate it with anything of that album's thick intoxication. They just use ordinary guitars and and drum beats, and midway through a piano joins in. This is also clearly the best use of Yule's vocals, who can do the melancholy thing quite well. ...Man, if he just filled the album with songs like this, then maybe the universe wouldn't hate this album so much?
Send No Letter B+
Once again. For the worst rock 'n' roll album ever made, this is pretty good! It has a toe-tapping beat, some rockin' piano, swinging saxophone, and best of all, two electric guitars noodling over the proceedings. Yule's vocals even sound pretty good, and (if I may sound so bold) Velvet-Undergroundish. I mean, who doesn't think Doug Yule would have eventually contributed a few songs if Lou Reed and Co. stuck around?
Jack & Jane B
Still fine. I like it. It's like a wimpier version of David Bowie's “Watch That Man.” It's way more understated of course, but that's kind of been one of Velvet Underground's things, hasn't it? Certain parts of this strike me as cheesy, but I like listening to the evolving bass groove. Maybe the chord progression could have been less generic for blues. Hardly one of the highlights of this album, but … still quite good for the worst album ever made.
Again, if anyone's ripping off anybody, it's The Beatles. I don't remember anything from Loaded that sounded like The Beatles. ...And The Beatles were ripping off barroom shuffles when they were making songs like this, so... Anyway, this melody is pretty catchy, and Yule gives a nice vocal performance. There's a nice descending chord progression he comes up with, which also sounds Beatles-esque, and he keeps layering on some harpsichords as it reaches its conclusion. I sort of wish the orchestration were more interesting, but I guess they had such a low budget that they couldn't afford much other than the minimal instruments. Oh well! I also don't think they needed to put on that extended coda with the pretty, “melancholy” singing taking over. Seems a bit overwrought to me.
1969: The Velvet Underground Live, Vol. 1 (1974)
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Waiting For My Man A
The stage banter at the beginning is great. I wish someone would have come along with decent recording equipment and recorded all their shows so that someone could just compile all the stage banter. I transcribed part of what he said at the beginning of the main portion of this review, so I won't type it all down again... Anyway, it's pretty funny. When they get to the actual song, you can tell right away that the recording quality is decent but the volume of Lou Reed's vocals are very low, and the bass is very high. (So Doug Yule fans, come on board!) The band is quite good, though. The guitars are grooving perfectly, and it's fun hearing them speed up at the at the end. ...I guess this isn't quite as raucous as the Velvet Underground shows were in the Cale years, but … I guess they didn't have any fans with fancy recording equipment coming to record their shows! What we wouldn't do with a time machine, right? I swear, anyone who invents a time machine would be rich just by recording concerts. ...I'll get right on that.
Lisa Says A
Wha?? This song appeared on Lou Reed's solo debut album! It was also supposed to appear on that “lost” album that was supposed to come between The Velvet Underground and Loaded, but that record company threw them out. Anyway, it's great hearing it here. I of course associate it more with Lou Reed's solo career than I do with The Velvet Underground. ...Man, I probably listen to Lou Reed albums more than I listen to VU anyway!! Well, it's a great song. It's very poppy, and very catchy. I like hearing Reed singing it, even though I wish I could hear him more clearly. I hear some ambient hissing, but otherwise, I can hear the guitars pretty well.
What Goes On A+
Mmmmm... Very tasty... Of course now that we're used to the relatively poor recording quality of this disc, I start to appreciate here that it sort of makes the experience more gritty. Hell, maybe this grit helps me enjoy it more than I did the original incarnation on The Velvet Underground. (I certainly gave it a higher track-score, but... I can't guarantee how that those translate between album reviews... not that you can really quantify songs, anyway!) What I like about this song is that they just keep the groove going... It lasts almost nine minutes long, and that seems like the perfect length for it. Really, this is like “Sister Ray” was in White Light / White Heat except it's way more awesome. Why? Because it's fun and it doesn't make me want to gouge out my ear drums. The organ noodles around in a very uncouth manner... but sort of help drives the texture. ...So, this song is fun, dirty, and mesmerizing.
Sweet Jane A-
Live “1969?” And they're playing “Sweet Jane” from a 1970 album? ...Whoa, I guess these guys cover it all, don't they? I guess that helps make this album a “definitive” live document of The Velvet Underground... I mean, they're covering stuff from all their albums. Except for Squeeze, but we're brainwashed into believing that album doesn't exist... Anyway, this is played more slowly than it was in Loaded, which I'm not terribly sure does it any favors. I want them to speed it up! This is sleepy! Anyway, this is a terrific song, and still good listening.
We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together A-
I heard that some of the mastertapes of this live album had been lost and thus some of these songs sound like they were taken from a vinyl rip. This has got to be one of them; I can hear the crackles and pops! ...Anyway, this is an interesting Velvet Underground song, because THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I EVER HEARD IT! There's a studio version of it that pops up in Another View, which was finally released in 1986, and it doesn't show up in Lou Reed's solo discography. Anyway, it's not a great masterpiece or anything, but it's a fast and catchy rock 'n' roll song. They play some raucous, and very tight guitars, and Tucker plays a tight drum beat. Reed gives another great performance.
Femme Fatale A
Yet another good reason to shell out some money on this live album series. Nico of course was originally the one who sang it, but here we get to hear Reed singing it! And it's a real treat hearing him sing it. Not that I don't like Nico. He also introduces this song in a funny way. “This is a song called Femme Fatale, which we wrote about someone who was one, and has since been committed to an institution for being one, and will one day maybe open up a school to train others.” ...Hehe... Anyway, this is one of my favorite songs of theirs, and it's extremely well played. The band sounds tight, and Reed's performance is phenomenal. (It sounds like about five people are clapping at the end of this! Wha---?)
New Age A-
Another song from their future album! All in all one of my least favorite songs from Loaded, because it's slow and probably because it sort of disrupted the “flow.” It doesn't really interrupt the flow here, though, but I still find it to be a bit slow for my taste. The melody has its moments, and it's delivered well by Reed. It manages to come off pretty well in this grittier version. It's also quite a bit longer, and they manage to let it evolve to garner some extra intensity in its final minutes. So maybe I like this version slightly better.
Rock and Roll A
YET ANOTHER song from their future album. ...I'm not sure why I find that so freaky, come to think of it. Anyway, I'm of course glad that they were doing songs from an album that wasn't released yet... especially this one, because as I mentioned in my Loaded review, I think it deserves a place on my top 100 favorite songs of all time. Reed's vocal performance is more glamorous and keyed-up in the studio cut, so I waaaaay prefer that to this. Anyway, keeping with the general high quality of this release, this makes a very good listen. The band is tight and fun and they improvise a lot more than they did in the studio cut... particularly in the middle where they go for another raucous jamming section. ...And I still like listening to Reed's singing, especially how his intonations differ from the studio version I know so well. I mean, I wouldn't mind hearing 100 different versions of this song.
Beginning to See the Light A+
This one really just seems like a great song for them to play live. It was a terrifically fun and upbeat song in The Velvet Underground, and that quality is intensified even greater here. As usual, the grooving instrumentals come off as tight and toe-tapping (of course with the usual slightly below average recording quality... but that doesn't matter). It goes on for five and a half minutes, too, and it's consistently fun through it. Especially great is Lou Reed's energetic vocal performance who sings it more glamorously than he did before, and hearing a few of his yelps and roars inserted throughout is extremely entertaining to me!
And the final song from Volume 1 is this selection from their debut album. Their debut album has always been my favorite of theirs, but this is my least favorite song on there, so... let's see... … Er. I guess I'm just not a fan of this song. Pretty much everything else here is groove based... they find a groove and pretty consistently keep it going through the whole length. This one consists of a lumbering groove that every once in awhile picks up steam to something more chaotic. ...I appreciate the “art” of it, but it just doesn't appeal to me. Making it worse, I have to sit through more than eight minutes of it, which is kind of trying on me. So if you like this song, then you are a true Velvet Underground fan. Not me, someone who felt like giving Squeeze the time of day.
1969: The Velvet Underground Live, Vol. 2 (1974)
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Whoah... This song would appear on Lou Reed's debut solo album in 1972! And it's being played here as The Velvet Underground! Isn't that amazing? (Well, I think it's amazing.) Unfortunately, this has got to be one of the man's least interesting songs. It extends nearly to 11 minutes long and consists of kind of a lumbering groove, and I don't even think the melody is that great. But at least they pick up some of the energy by the end, and this 11 minutes doesn't get terribly tedious. Doug Yule goes at the electric organ again, and I still like listening to his grooving noodles. Maurice Tucker goes to town with the hi-hat crashes, I guess symbolizing waves crashing on the rocks. ...Hoity-toity art band.
Pale Blue Eyes A
Oh good, a song we've actually heard before, says the audience members. (I guess they didn't record these in the order they appear in this live album! Although if they did that might have been a better excuse to split this live album up into two separately sold CDs.) ...This was a slow and hypnotic song in the studio version in The Velvet Underground, and they're able to recapture much of that state in this live version. The main difference is the recording quality, which is still amateur quality. ...But that doesn't hurt them as much as you might think.
Didn't they already do this song on Vol.1? … But, er... Can this be happening? …I actually kind of like this. It starts out with a low, rumbly and subdued beginning, kind of captivating me. Whenever the band is supposed to intermittently pick up steam, they keep that quiet droning quality of it intact while sort of welling up. The version of “Heroin” in Vol. 1 as well as the studio incarnation of it made my stomach turn, but this version keeps that full-on druggy haze completely intact. They even let it go completely nuts at the end, but it seems like they achieved it more naturally. Certainly the rough, low quality recording helped it maintain that consistent druggy haze, so maybe it *was* best these guys never got a proper live album. So, wow. Finally. I like this song. I'll call this the definitive version of it, unless something I listen to later proves otherwise.
Some Kinda Love A-
Yet another song I like listening to here more than the studio version. How are they doing this? I guess they must've been an excellent live band, or something. ...Here, the guitars sound louder and more intense than the studio version, which forces me to sit up and pay attention to it. Nonetheless, I still don't think this is one of the better songs they were responsible for. The melody isn't one of their more memorable ones... but the appeal of this is in the singing and the instrumentation.
Over You B+
Well here's a song that you can only find here. It's only two minutes long so it's hardly a “significant” sort of song. I can also hear those vinyl pops, so I guess this was another song where they lost the mastertapes to. ...It's not a particularly wonderful song, though. Just a guitar grooving lightly a descending riff, and Lou singing in that deadpan, warbly way that he does. They also fade it out at the end... What's with that?? I thought this was live!
Sweet Bonnie Brown / It's Just Too Much A-
Yet another song that you can only hear in this album, since no studio version of it exists to my knowledge. It's a '50s rock inspired tune, featuring a usual chord progression and back-up singers repeating the chorus after Lou Reed sings it. What makes it uniquely these guys is the droning quality of the instrumentation as well as some delicious electric guitar work from Sterling Morrison who seems to be channeling Chuck Berry, but putting his own twists on it. Not bad! I'll add that this track is nearly eight minutes long, and I'm with it the whole way.
White Light / White Heat A+
This is the only representation of their White Light / White Heat album throughout both volumes of this live series. Why is that?? But anyway, they picked the best song to cover, so let's not complain too much about it. As you would probably expect by now, this is a very extended version, and its main appeal is that droning groove they manage to generate. In previous songs, they let Doug Yule noodle around with an organ. But here, they're letting Sterling Morrison noodle around with his guitar, and he finds plenty of odd and detached things to do. Sometimes it sounds like he's playing with the groove, but most of the time, it seems like he could care less. ...It's interesting, and continues to show that these guys were absolute powerhouses in the live setting.
I Can't Stand It B+
This is another song that never had a studio version appear properly in their discography until the mid '80s, and that was just an outtakes version. This wasn't even included on the original vinyl pressing of the album, so I guess the people of the '70s would have had to wait awhile before they finally got to hear this. Anyway, this can't really compare to their rendition of “White Light / White Heat” previously. The drone they create is a little on the blocky side and thus strikes me as more monotonous. Tucker's drumming in particular. Sterling Morrison is at it with the guitar again, and he seems even less interested in the actual groove than he was in the previous song. His guitaring is all over the place, very jumbly and fast-paced. Sounds a little bit like the piano that's playing throughout Aladdin Sane except less stylish. (Naturally, Bowie got his ideas from them!)
I'll Be Your Mirror A-
Yay! Another song that was originally sung by Nico, but now we get to hear a different interpretation. Although I think that must be Doug Yule singing, because it doesn't quite sound like Reed. (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong... I spent about 45 seconds researching this and came up empty...) Anyway, I like the Nico version, but it's still great to hear these... The vocals are kind of mumbly and quiet, which is a drawback. The band doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly wonderful with it. It's also not even two and a half minutes long... So, really, I consider this the live album's coda.
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I Can't Stand it A
This was also the song that started Lou Reed's debut solo album, so I can see why huge Lou Reed fans would love hearing this “older” version. Although people point out those drums seem awfully loud for a song supposedly recorded in 1969. (It sounds... you know... like '80s drums...) According to Wikipedia these tracks were largely remixed when this was released, which would explain it. Anyway, this is a very catchy guitar rocker with tight guitars that are playing a good riff. Reed's vocal performance is great, of course. The version that appeared on Reed's solo album is quite different—utilizing back-up singers and sounding more “glammy”—but I like this version just as much.
Stephanie Says A+
This is beautiful! It's a ballad with a shuffly beat, sweet vocal performance, and—best of all—a viola (I presume) and xylophone noodling around. According to Wikipedia, this is a John Cale era song, so that explains that ...Lou Reed later slowed down quite a bit, retitled it as “Caroline Says II,” and put it on his Berlin album. This version, however, is quite a bit more breezy and... er... likeable, I guess.
She's My Best Friend B+
...I know Loaded was their pop album, but how are these songs not pop? Could the release of VU revealed to the world that The Velvets were planning on going pop all along whether they were coaxed into it by their managers or not? ...Anyway, this is a pleasant toe-tapper. I like listening to it, but it doesn't make an extreme impression on me, or anything. It's well-played and fun but somewhat forgettable. (This later appeared on 1976's Coney Island Baby! He saved the most compelling leftover for last I guess!)
Lisa Says A-
Why does Lou Reed care what women say to him all the time? ...Serially... I mean, Lisa, Stephanie, Candy, Caroline II... You might recognize this song from Lou Reed's first solo album, but a version of this that surfaced on their 1969: Live album made an even bigger impression on me. Without a doubt, this is a very good song with some forceful guitar playing (where the guitars sound a bit muted to me), and Reed gives off a loud and passionate performance. ...It's a great melody and I like hearing it again, but this isn't the definitive version.
To this song, I say “hmm...” It's certainly sophisticated and ambitious in which they recreate the sound of a seashore, but I still find it rather slow-moving and dull for my tastes. ...It doesn't quite sweep me away like the ocean waves... The long-drawn-out melody doesn't interest me a whole lot, either. At least some of Sterling Morrison's guitar work is quite good.
Foggy Notion A+
This is the album's lengthy grooving tune, and I'll just say that it's one of the best songs these guys have ever done. It's nearly seven minutes long, the guitars are tight and exciting, and Lou Reed sings stylishly a very catchy melody. (He comes off a bit effeminate singing this, which strikes me as funny.) Once again, the mixing sounds like it was done in the '80s. The bass and drums are clear as a bell and rather loud, and they're using the stereo effect to its full potential. Nonetheless, that might have just helped it become such an enjoyable song to hear. ...Hey, what's wrong with being able to listen to every element of this song individually?
Temptation Inside Your Heart A-
Is it just me or does this sound a bit like surf music? (The brief electric guitar solo in the middle of it certainly reeks of surf music...) Reed sings the vocals as though he were talking, and there's someone talking in the background, making strange comments to him. ...I'm not sure it worked that well, but at least it gave me something to talk about! The riff is pretty good, though. And I like the bongo drums.
One of These Days A-
It's a nice song if a bit underwhelming to me. The groove is a bit slow, and I don't find much to get excited about over Reed's vocal performance. It does pick up steam in its final half, though, when the band starts to groove out a bit, and some hazy noisiness is brought into the mix. There's a distinctly unusual electric guitar performance there where he's giving it these off-kilter wobbly sounds.
Andy's Chest A-
Wha-wha?? A song from Transformer? (I've listened to Transformer about a billion times, and only listened to Lou Reed maybe twice, so this is way more familiar to me.) It's more fast-paced than the version I'm most familiar with, but the melody is still great! Reed made an excellent decision deciding to bring in those back-up singers for the Transformer version. ...On the other hand, that version didn't have that enjoyable albeit brief electric guitar performance from Morrison.
I'm Sticking With You A
Maureen Tucker and her famously amateurish vocals take lead on this theatrical piano ballad... And, oh, this would be an easy one for me to pick on if I felt like being mean to at least something on this album. But no. I like this. This song is rather sweet and romantic, and hearing Tucker's vocals somehow makes it more believable. Midway through, a male voice comes in (Yule?). The orchestration build up right at the end is, really, the touch that makes me like it even more. (I guess this was used in the Juno soundtrack... Sort of an annoying soundtrack when it comes right down to it... But not because of this song...)
Another View (1986)
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We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together A-
Well this is quite a straightforward song for them! It's a simple, upbeat pop-rocker with Lou Reed (and Yule on back-ups?) rock 'n' roll song with a basic pop-rock riff, repetitive (and kind of dumb) melody, with some handclaps at the end. It's quite catchy, of course, but certainly not the sort of melody that lingers on in my mind long after its done. The production sounds very smooth and clean, which shows the signs that they probably did the mixing in the '80s when these tapes were discovered. Anyway, it's somewhat forgettable and I'm sure these guys considered it a “throwaway” at the time anyway. Fortunately, it's a lot of fun.
I'm Gonna Move Right In B
It was a very good thing the record executives did by releasing only the cream of the crop for VU and left the relatively underwhelming stuff on this disc... It saves non die-hard Velvet Underground fans from having to buy this. (However, originally, they only released this album as a bonus disc to a reissuing of The Velvet's first three albums... well I guess die-hard fans would've bought the reissues anyway!) Well this is a six-and-a-half minute jam instrumental. They sounded great when they jam on their live albums, but here … with all this crystal-clear production … it's just a whole lotta meh. They jam in a sort of conventional way... Keeping the beat, and Sterling Morrison does the usual bluesy finger-work with a high-pitched guitar.
Hey Mr. Rain (Version 1) B+
John Cale? …I remember you! ...This is one of those songs that huge Velvet Underground fanatics like to single out as a lost gem, but I don't really see what's the big deal with it. Other than, I guess, we get to hear John Cale's droning viola play throughout it. Usually, he doesn't seem terribly interested in playing in-tune, although that's just John Cale for you. The drumbeat is very subdued and hidden in the background, and the lead guitar plays rather jangly. ...The atmosphere of it is certainly unique, and Reed gives a very odd vocal performance that comes off as a bit freaked out and wobbly. It picks up slightly with intensity by he end, but it's not quite enough... Obviously, this is just an outtake, and I can see some potential in this.
Ride Into the Sun B-
This is another instrumental! It sounds like their instrumentals were burning up as though they were riding into the sun... Especially that electric guitar that's just playing long-drawn-out and frequently out-of-tune in the background. Apparently Reed had lyrics written for this, because he redid this song for his debut album and that song had lyrics! Anyway, its chord sequence sounds like a modified version of “Pachelbel's Canon,” which I don't think I ever noticed quite as starkly with the remade version. Anyway, I'm kind of bored sitting through this... The version on Lou Reed is about a billion times better.
Coney Island Steeplechase B
Again, this is a perfectly good song... The melody is a very catchy sort of old-timey ditty. Reed sounds like he's singing it in a megaphone like... er... Rudy Vallee, I guess. He just sounds very low in the mix and the guitars come off as muddy. Tucker keeps a steady beat at least. ...This didn't end up in Lou Reed's Coney Island Baby... Contrary to what I thought prior to looking it up just now....
Guess I'm Falling In Love A-
WOW... They REALLY muddled up those guitars for this one. ...I said I didn't like the muddled sound in the previous one, but that was because it didn't suit it. Here, at least, they use that EXTREMELY DISTORTED sound to create something quite exciting and fun. Maureen Tucker comes in with thunderous drums to match. This is an instrumental, and it's pretty clear they were just screwing around in the studio, possibly warming up.
Hey Mr. Rain (Version II) A-
Ah, I bet you saw that coming. You saw that “Version I” written in between those parentheses and you probably thought to yourself: “You know, I bet there's gonna be a Version II!” ...Well for what it's worth, I like this version a little better. It actually makes me quite dizzy and want to vomit... In other words, it actually gets a gut reaction from me. It also helps that Cale's viola is a little deeper in the background, and I like those occasional blasts of fuzz guitar that pops up in the background. Reed's vocals aren't shaky like they were in the previous take, but they're still weird ...It really shows that this is an outtake, and this had the potential of being something very cool if they chose to flesh it out. I'm assuming they just didn't know where to take it.
Ferryboat Bill B
This must be Lonesome Cowboy Bill's little brother who isn't right in the head... What I like about this is the fact that they had the gall to create a very weird, neverending loop that strives to do nothing else but drive the living crap out of me crazy. This is so weird that I can't see how they thought a record company would have let them released it. ...Well, now, we have things like new wave and freaky art-rock so something like this seems tame in comparison. Tucker is tapping, tapping, tapping away at those drums so busily that she probably couldn't possibly put any fills in there... if she even wanted to. The guitars are extremely repetitive, playing up and down the scale over and over again. Reed comes up with a melody, but it's not catchy at all... though for some reason I find those high-pitched back-up vocals hilarious.
Rock and Roll A
Whoah! An alternate version of the awesome song from Loaded appears here! I thought Velvet Underground weren't allowed to do songs for Loaded that they were originally going to record for their forth MGM record? ...Oh, I guess Atlantic didn't like any of these songs... Except of course for “Rock and Roll,” which rules. The riffs are fantastic, and Tucker's drumming is actually quite fun to listen to here. The big drawback with this outtake version is Reed's vocals... He of course perfected it brilliantly for Loaded. Here, he seemed to still be working out those charming intonations that he does.
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