BCB 100 - The Velvet Underground

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Postby toomanyhatz » 10 Jul 2006, 23:00

Balboa wrote:
Hey Pep! wrote:
To me, at least initially, they were always about creating an unholy row, and that's largely what still appeals to me. These days, it seems people keep that kind of thing more and more at arm's length. It's all about Nick Drake and Fairport Convention and cathedrals of sound and fragile vocals and melodic pop and all that crap. It bugs me and one day I'll put together a thread about it.



Its funny but the "unholy row" accounts for such a small part of their work. The bulk of their stuff is reasonably accessible (at least musically)- at least 1/2 of the first album, actually not too much off the second, most of the third and most of the fourth. So maybe 60-70% is nowhere near as strange as you would think. Left of centre, sure, but its not all Sister Ray.

In fact there is plenty of fragile vocals and melodic pop going on.


And in fact this defines very neatly why I don't care for Yo La Tengo or (most) Sonic Youth- the "unholy row" side is all they got from the Velvets. They completely missed not only the fragile vocals and melodic pop, but the songwriting skill. Nothing by the Velvets- even "Sister Ray" meanders like almost all of either band's material.
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Postby Phenomenal Cat » 10 Jul 2006, 23:08

Matt Wilson wrote:Image


Actually, Matt, I saw The Velvet Stranglehold last year at the Free For All Tomorrow's Parties. Their performance of "Journey to the Satellite of Love" was incendiary. Everyone who saw them went out and started a paper route.

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Postby Jeff K » 10 Jul 2006, 23:12

toomanyhatz wrote:And in fact this defines very neatly why I don't care for Yo La Tengo or (most) Sonic Youth- the "unholy row" side is all they got from the Velvets. They completely missed not only the fragile vocals and melodic pop, but the songwriting skill. Nothing by the Velvets- even "Sister Ray" meanders like almost all of either band's material.


I can't agree with you about Yo La Tengo. They're very embedded towards the Velvets melodic side.
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Postby The Write Profile » 11 Jul 2006, 00:26

Okay, my standard, not-very-accurate summaries of the LPs coming up right now:


There's the trailblazing creation of a myth, sound and aesthetic the Velvet Underground & Nico
There's the sonic assault of White Light/White Heat
There's the romantic/violent pull ( like the preacher who has "love" and "hate" tatooed on either knuckle) and the comical screwing around with mythology of VU (technically not released at the time, but fits in with the chronology)
There's the intense, yearning (post adolescent) love of Velvet Underground


Finally, there's the would-be classic rock (with a twist) of Loaded

Actually, the first time I heard "Venus in Furs," it really knocked me for six. It was a whole of things, really, evenmoreso than Heroin. The piercing, corruscating viola playing, for one, but mainly Lou's delivery of the words- spaced-out, bordering on total detachment (the long gaps he leaves in the lines "I am tired...I am weary...I could sleep for a thousand years") that seem to really get the point home. And I still like their debut the best, partly because it is such a selfcontained piece of mythlogy/aesthetic. Everything about it is perfectly worked out, perfectly realised.

Yet for me, my favourites might be "Sister Ray" (off White Light/White Heat) or, strangely, the droppedout insouciance of "I Can't Stand It" (on VU). The former, despite its length, is kinda perfect in its own way, the sheer gall and humour of it, it's bordering on juvenille, really, but it's that noise. And the latter for the fact that I just like that whole "VU"-period, the perfect bridge between their final stages, the capriciousness is still there, along with sly wit.

A shoutout to the Live 1969 album, too. I like its mood more than anything else, it's astonishingly laidback and warm, considering the subject material of some of the songs (that version of "Heroin" is rather frightening, in its own way, the manner Lou runs the words together during the verses)

But it's all good ( Though I'm one of those who likes Loaded a lot while still playing it the least)

And, just for the sake of argument, Cale solo is far superior to Lou in both its range of styles covered and its consistency: Paris 1919, Fear, Slow Dazzle, Vintage Violence, Helen of Troy...
It's before my time but I've been told, he never came back from Karangahape Road.

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Postby Jeff K » 11 Jul 2006, 00:32

The Right Scarfie Profile wrote:And, just for the sake of argument, Cale solo is far superior to Lou in both its range of styles covered and its consistency: Paris 1919, Fear, Slow Dazzle, Vintage Violence, Helen of Troy...


You just had to go and sneak that in, Matt. 'Far superior'? I'll give you Paris 1919 but Lou had a nice run of solo albums in the 70's.
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Postby The Slider » 11 Jul 2006, 00:34

I haven't read the thread, but I bet it is full of people praising the 3rd and 4th records.
Don't listen to them.

The third one would be ok if it didn't have Doug Yule's sad excuse for a voice all over it and the 4th is just a collection of run-of-the-mill pop songs (many of which have Doug Yule's sad excuse for a voice all over them).

That is not why the Velvet Underground were great.
The Velvet Underground were great because of the huge gothic temples of sound on their first (and second to a degree) records.
Also - no Cale, no Comment. His avant garde leanings are what made them extraordinary. Without him they were a slightly left-of-centre pop group. No more - no less.

Album: The First One
Song: Venus in Furs

and don't let anyone tell you any fucking different.
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Postby The Slider » 11 Jul 2006, 00:38

The Slider wrote:I haven't read the thread, but I bet it is full of people praising the 3rd and 4th records.
Don't listen to them.


I have now briefly read the thead.
Some of you people should know better. :lol:
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Postby Jeff K » 11 Jul 2006, 00:39

* quickly changes my plans to start a Doug Yule appreciation thread*
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Postby The Write Profile » 11 Jul 2006, 00:39

Jeff K wrote:
The Right Scarfie Profile wrote:And, just for the sake of argument, Cale solo is far superior to Lou in both its range of styles covered and its consistency: Paris 1919, Fear, Slow Dazzle, Vintage Violence, Helen of Troy...


You just had to go and sneak that in, Matt. 'Far superior'? I'll give you Paris 1919 but Lou had a nice run of solo albums in the 70's.


Oh, I'm not denying that Transformer, Street Hassle and Berlin are all pretty good, or at least enjoyably peverse LPs, but I just prefer Cale's music and approach a lot more during the 70s, it seemed more far-reaching and generally more interesting, all told. Even his baroque material sounds oddly deranged, particularly something like "Gideon's Bible." No knock on Lou, mind. Rock and Roll Animal is just too wretchedly excessive for my tastes, though I understand that's part of its appeal.
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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 11 Jul 2006, 00:40

Jeff K wrote:
The Right Scarfie Profile wrote:And, just for the sake of argument, Cale solo is far superior to Lou in both its range of styles covered and its consistency: Paris 1919, Fear, Slow Dazzle, Vintage Violence, Helen of Troy...


You just had to go and sneak that in, Matt. 'Far superior'? I'll give you Paris 1919 but Lou had a nice run of solo albums in the 70's.


Jeff! 'Hallowe'en Parade' popped up on the iPod on the way home this evening. Lovely summer evening, strolling through Prague.

It was perfect. That's a fuck of a song. Cool, literate, moving, groovy, underplayed vocally and reeking of harnessed and brightly-burning talent. For today, and probably for some time to come (it's replaced 'Crazy Feeling'), it's my favourite Lou solo.

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Postby Quaco » 11 Jul 2006, 00:41

The Right Scarfie Profile wrote:Yet for me, my favourites might be "Sister Ray" (off White Light/White Heat) ... despite its length, is kinda perfect in its own way, the sheer gall and humour of it, it's bordering on juvenille, really, but it's that noise.

Yes, it's a great recording. I wish I could hear it right now. And seventeen minutes is often not quite long enough.
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Postby Guy E » 11 Jul 2006, 00:41

Album: Velvet Underground (3rd)
Song: Rock and Roll (Another View version)

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Postby The Slider » 11 Jul 2006, 00:45

Jeff K wrote:* quickly changes my plans to start a Doug Yule appreciation thread*


Doug Yule is a fucking spastic.

This is not his fault, of course.
I blame Lou Reed for encouraging his depressing mediocrity.
In fact I hate Lou Reeed for encouraging his mediocrity and ruining the VU at the same time.

Lou is a wanker.
He hated Cale because he knew that it was Cale that was the true musical mover in the band and he wanted to be the head honcho himself.
So he got a spastic in to play bass and then lost interest so he let him sing all the songs.

jesus, Lou. :roll:
You fucking ruined eveything.
Just like he ruined every fucking concert I have ever seen him play.
It is usually some kind of petulant tantrum or he simplay can't be fucking bothered to put on a performance for the poor fucking saps who have put food on his table for the last 40 fucking years.

Fuck you, Lou Reed. You are a worthless cunt.

Phew. That feels better.
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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 11 Jul 2006, 00:46

The Slider wrote:I haven't read the thread, but I bet it is full of people praising the 3rd and 4th records.
Don't listen to them.

The third one would be ok if it didn't have Doug Yule's sad excuse for a voice all over it and the 4th is just a collection of run-of-the-mill pop songs (many of which have Doug Yule's sad excuse for a voice all over them).

That is not why the Velvet Underground were great.
The Velvet Underground were great because of the huge gothic temples of sound on their first (and second to a degree) records.
Also - no Cale, no Comment. His avant garde leanings are what made them extraordinary. Without him they were a slightly left-of-centre pop group. No more - no less.

Album: The First One
Song: Venus in Furs

and don't let anyone tell you any fucking different.


Erm..I would have agreed, 10 years ago.

I think looking at the band's career as a whole, we should give them - and especially Lou Reed - barrelloads of credit for what they managed to do in 5 short years and 4 short albums.

They were incredible on those first two albums, it's true, but to turn it around like they did...from 'Sister Ray' to 'Candy Says'? Can you name another band who performed such a volte face? and so well?

You're wrong about Yule's voice, too. I'm not that keen but it helps strike a balance on the 3rd album. And it's utterly perfect for 'New Age', which is one of the very finest and most moving songs anyone has ever written, anywhere, ever.

I rate 'Loaded' so highly 'cos it's warm and pretty and slightly surprising. I mean, it's like The Beatles coming out with 'Back In Black' in 1970. The fact that they could do this marks them out as a truly incredible band.

And that album is by no means average, or just 'good pop'. Listen to the Rhino 2-CD set. They were on one fuck of a roll back then.

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Postby The Slider » 11 Jul 2006, 00:47

I am singularly unconvinced.

I hear nothing but third-rate Monkees when I hear Loaded.
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Postby Snarfyguy » 11 Jul 2006, 00:49

The Slider wrote:
Jeff K wrote:* quickly changes my plans to start a Doug Yule appreciation thread*


Doug Yule is a fucking spastic.

(etc)


Sometimes I think the Slider's opinions, or perhaps just the way he articulates them, are a tad extreme or provocative, but in this instance I agree 100%.

Lou Reed betrayed his band, his fans and - maybe worst of all - his own talent. I can't see a way to forgive him for ruining such a wonderful thing.
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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 11 Jul 2006, 00:49

The Slider wrote:
Jeff K wrote:* quickly changes my plans to start a Doug Yule appreciation thread*


Doug Yule is a fucking spastic.

This is not his fault, of course.
I blame Lou Reed for encouraging his depressing mediocrity.
In fact I hate Lou Reeed for encouraging his mediocrity and ruining the VU at the same time.

Lou is a wanker.
He hated Cale because he knew that it was Cale that was the true musical mover in the band and he wanted to be the head honcho himself.
So he got a spastic in to play bass and then lost interest so he let him sing all the songs.

jesus, Lou. :roll:
You fucking ruined eveything.
Just like he ruined every fucking concert I have ever seen him play.
It is usually some kind of petulant tantrum or he simplay can't be fucking bothered to put on a performance for the poor fucking saps who have put food on his table for the last 40 fucking years.

Fuck you, Lou Reed. You are a worthless cunt.

Phew. That feels better.


Yes.

Wrong about Yule, as I have said. As a vocalist his better moments were apt for the material. Let's just say that.

But yes, Lou. Lou. An utter cunt. A wretched individual who wrote some of the most wonderful music ever created, and then proceeded to ruin its appeal and his abilities by doing everything in his power.

And fucking everyone else over, too.

You said you saw the Velvets in 1993? How bad was it? I mean, really?

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Postby The Slider » 11 Jul 2006, 00:49

I am, by the way, going to go to bed now - before you try to convince me to waste 40 minutes of my life by playing it again and reasessing it.
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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 11 Jul 2006, 00:53

The Slider wrote:I am, by the way, going to go to bed now - before you try to convince me to waste 40 minutes of my life by playing it again and reasessing it.


Good - 'cos it's better in the morning.

So you know what you should stick on yr iPod at tomorrow a.m., then John, eh? :wink:

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Postby The Slider » 11 Jul 2006, 00:55

Sister Ray on repeat. two goes round will see me door to door.


Hey Pep! wrote:You said you saw the Velvets in 1993? How bad was it? I mean, really?


It was the most disappointing moment of my life as a music fan.
Lou was lazy and quite obviously didn't want to be there.
He drawled the words to the songs - tossed them off like so much garbage - and spent the entire show glaring at cale/the audience. He seemed ok with mo and stirling, but he was hardly chummy even with them.


I hate Doug Yule's weedy voice and I have no interest in most of the songs on Loaded.
He added nothing to the VU - especially as a replacement foil to Lou - and you only have to look at Squeeze to see the extent of his talents.
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