Monday, July 04, 2005

talk about mud flaps...

Velvet Underground - Lisa Says (live 1969) 
Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane (live 1969) 
Velvet Underground - Rock And Roll (live 1969)

This post has been prompted by the excellent Kill All Artists mp3 blog, which recently featured a post a day based on each disc in the VU's Peel Slowly And See boxset. It made me realise that I haven't listened to them for AGES and sent me back to my favourite VU albums, the double "Live 1969" set.

One of the great things about the Velvets is that they're that rarity, a band whose stuff is worth hearing over and over again in different permutations and performances.The legendary "lost album" and numerous bootlegs add to the mystique(and marketing opportunities to saps like you and me), along with Lou Reed's seeming inability to sing a song the same way twice - he's a bit like Dylan in that way.

I always preferred the VU after they got rid of Cale and Nico - not the most popular opinion ever, but there you go. Don't get me wrong, I love the viola and the sturm und drang of the first two albums, but there is something (there's no other word for it) LOVELY about what they did in their final years, especially in these low key live recordings. You can hear what great songs they are and you can hear how fantastic Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrison (in particular) were.

This version of Lisa Says is particularly interesting - in it's "lost album" incarnation it's quite a slight but pretty song, but here it goes all over the place, slipping into bits of what sounds liken early version of "Satellite of Love" and stretched out to nearly six minutes.

In a classic bit of Reed revisionism, Lou claimed that the version of Sweet Jane was recorded on the day he wrote it, which Sterling Morrison refuted in Bockris and Malanga's "UpTight". But it sounds so fragile and simple - without the killer extra chord in the lick but with "heavenly wine and roses..." - that I almost believe the old bugger.

Rock And Roll is probably my favourite VU song and this version is great, gentle and yearning but driving at the same time. In the notes to the "Peel Slowly..." set, Sterling complained that these recordings didn't capture the live force of the band at the time. But the VU weren't just about what Lou Reed called "power- cubed",these were beautiful songs about the lost and the losing and they don'tcome across any better than on 1969.

Buy 1969: Live with Lou Reed, Volume 1
Buy 1969: Live with Lou Reed, Volume 2

No comments: