Thursday, March 6, 2014

the velvet underground

The Velvet Underground found a softer pop sound with a new lineup for the mesmerizing mitigation of this moving and melodic masterpiece.  The band had revolutionized rock music with the wildly experimental music of their first two albums 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' and 'White Light/White Heat'but, with the departure of John Cale, the group was ready to change things up.  The theft of their amplifiers just before recording began may also have contributed to their more acoustic direction.  They picked up multi-instrumentalist Doug Yule and began work on their eponymous third album at TTG Studios in Hollywood, California.  The sessions were produced by the band and featured Lou Reed on lead and rhythm guitar, piano, lead vocals, and verse co-vocals on "The Murder Mystery"; Sterling Morrison on rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals, verse co-vocals on "The Murder Mystery";  Maureen Tucker on percussion, backing vocals, lead vocals on "After Hours", chorus co-vocals on "The Murder Mystery"; and Doug Yule on bass guitar, organ, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Candy Says", and chorus co-vocals on "The Murder Mystery". 

Reed revealed:    "Everybody in the group sang on this album this time.  You know:  Sterling, Doug, Mo, and me.  Everybody sang different parts...The album had kind of like a unity to it.  The first song states what- it's like, this person named Candy asking all of these questions and then starts to delineate answers, you know, and it goes all the way through to a song called 'hat's the Story of My Life'.  And after you've got all that solved, you've got 'The Murder Mystery' ... I really didn’t think we should make another 'White Light/White Heat'. I thought it would be a terrible mistake, and I really believed that. I thought we had to demonstrate the other side of us. Otherwise, we would become this one-dimensional thing, and that had to be avoided at all costs."

Morrison considered:    "I think the third album is a lot more subtle...As an album, I think it holds up better than the other ones. The others, when you listen to them, something reaches out and hits you over the head, and something else drops back. The new album is a lot more cohesive. I mean why would we do another 'Sister Ray'? For our purposes, we've already covered that ground."

Yule remembers:    "The gray album was a lot of fun. The sessions were constructive and happy and creative, everybody was working together. I remember working on 'What Goes On', working on the solo. Lou cranked his guitar up all the way and played a solo. It was good and we said 'wanna try another? We got a few more tracks', and we put down three solos. He came back in and listened, and the engineer said, 'well, the next one you do, we'll have to kill another one, because we don't have any more open tracks'. This is in the days when you didn't have unlimited tracks. So I said, 'Why don't you play one more, and we'll play them all at once', and it worked. It sounds like bagpipes. 'White Light/White Heat' and 'What Goes On' aren't that different to me. Different treatments, but basically very similar tunes. 'White Light' ends in chaos and the end of 'What Goes On' is rhythm but they're both rock-n-roll songs. 'Murder Mystery' is manic. I can't listen to it. The words are manic and they're presented manically."

'The Velvet Underground' just barely made it onto the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and ninety seven.  Tucker muses:    “We hardly sold any records when we were together.  Even at the beginning when we had the patronage of Andy Warhol we couldn’t afford more than eight hours in the studio to record the whole of our first album! In some ways, it was helpful because we sounded more desperate and the music had a raw edge to it...It was Lou’s fantastic songs and the way the rest of us interpreted them. Each of us approached the songs from a different angle, putting our individual stamp on them. I played standing up so that I wouldn’t fall into the standard way of drumming and I hadn’t learned to play ‘properly’. I couldn’t do a roll to save my life! John [Cale] came from an avant-garde background and would play viola in a manic style unique to himself, while Sterling was a ‘traditional’ pop guitarist which left Lou free to experiment on lead guitar. You’ve only to listen to the solo albums Lou made with ‘normal’ rock musicians after disbanding the Velvets to see what a dramatic difference we made ... I was pleased with the direction we were going and with the new calmness in the group, and thinking about a good future, hoping people would smarten up and some record company would take us on and do us justice."

'The Velvet Underground'
full album:

All tracks written by Lou Reed

Side one
1. "Candy Says" 4:04
2. "What Goes On" 4:55
3. "Some Kinda Love" 4:03
4. "Pale Blue Eyes" 5:41
5. "Jesus" 3:24
Side two
6. "Beginning to See the Light" 4:41
7. "I'm Set Free" 4:08
8. "That's the Story of My Life" 1:59
9. "The Murder Mystery" 8:55
10. "After Hours" 2:07

'Some Kinda Love' closet mix with different vocal take

live at the Boston Tea Party, January 1969

1. Heroin (0:00)
2. Move Right In (8:26)
3. I'm Set Free (13:12)
4. Run Run Run (17:49)
5. I'm Waiting For The Man (25:39) 
6. What Goes On (34:35)
7. I Can't Stand It (39:05)
8. Candy Says (45:23)
9. Beginning To See The Light (50:10)
10. White Light/White Heat (56:00)
11. Pale Blue Eyes (61:42)
12. Sister Ray (68:10)

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