LOU REED – ” Words & Music, May 1965 “

Posted: June 6, 2022 in MUSIC

Light in the Attic Records, in cooperation with Laurie Anderson, proudly announces the inaugural title in their ongoing “Lou Reed Archive Series: Words & Music, May 1965“. Released in tandem with the late artist’s 80th birthday celebrations, the album offers an extraordinary, unvarnished, and plainly poignant insight into one of America’s true poet-songwriters. Capturing Reed in his formative years, this previously unreleased collection of songs—penned by a young Lou Reed, recorded to tape with the help of future bandmate John Cale, and mailed to himself as a “poor man’s copyright”—remained sealed in its original envelope and unopened for nearly 50 years. Its contents embody some of the most vital, ground breaking contributions to American popular music committed to tape in the 20th century.

Through examination of these songs rooted firmly in the folk tradition, we see clearly Lou’s lasting influence on the development of modern American music – from punk to art-rock and everything in between. A true time capsule, these recordings not only memorialize the nascent sparks of what would become the seeds of the incredibly influential Velvet Underground; they also cement Reed as a true observer with an innate talent for synthesizing and distilling the world around him into pure sonic poetry.

The story of how this reissue came to pass is just as delicious as the music. In his early days as a songwriter-for-hire, Lou Reed attempted to protect his intellectual property by engaging in what has been referred to as a “poor man’s copyright”: mailing a copy of a reel containing a bunch of demos to himself. That tape sat dormant for decades, discovered only as archivists Don Fleming and Jason Stern were digging through Reed’s personal effects following his death in 2013. What they discovered were the sketches for future classics like “Pale Blue Eyes” and “Men of Good Fortune,” rendered roughly with just guitar and vocals. The remastered versions of these tunes, released by Light In The Attic as part of an apparent series of archival releases, feels like getting 4K footage of the Big Bang. It’s the raw material of a whole universe of art being flung into the black to eventually evolve into supernovas.

Featuring contributions from Reed’s future bandmate, John Cale, “Words & Music, May 1965” presents in their entirety the earliest-known recordings of such historic songs as “Heroin,” “I’m Waiting for the Man,” and “Pale Blue Eyes”—all of which Reed would eventually record and make indelibly influential with the Velvet Underground. Also included are several more previously-unreleased compositions that offer additional insight into Reed’s creative process and early influences.

Produced by Laurie Anderson, Don Fleming, Jason Stern, Hal Willner, and Matt Sullivan, the album features newly-remastered audio from the original tapes by GRAMMY®-nominated engineer, John Baldwin. Rounding out the package are new liner notes from acclaimed journalist and author, Greil Marcus, plus in-depth archival notes from Don Fleming and Jason Stern, who oversee the Lou Reed Archive.

“I was working for a record company as a songwriter,” Lou Reed remembered in 1972, “where they’d lock me in a room and they’d say, ‘Write ten surfing songs,’ ya know, and I wrote ‘Heroin’ and I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got something for ya.’  They said, ‘Never gonna happen, never gonna happen.'”  Reed wasn’t able to introduce “Heroin” to the world until March 1967 when the Verve label released “The Velvet Underground & Nico.  The VU’s debut album disappointed commercially but became greatly influential; Brian Eno once quipped that while the LP only sold around 30,000 copies in its first five years, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!”  (It’s been cited that it actually sold over 58,000 copies in two years.)  The influence of Lou Reed, who died in 2013 at the age of 71, as a songwriter and an artist, has remained mighty over the ensuing decades. 
The centerpiece of the inaugural Lou Reed Archive Series release is the Deluxe 45-RPM Double LP Edition of Words & Music, May 1965. Limited to 7,500 copies worldwide, this stunning collection was designed by multi-GRAMMY®-winning artist Masaki Koike and features a stylized, die-cut gatefold jacket manufactured by Stoughton Printing Co., with sequential foil numbering. Housed inside are two 45-RPM 12-inch LPs, pressed on HQ-audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl at Record Technology Inc. (RTI) featuring the only vinyl release of “I’m Waiting for the Man” – May 1965 Alternate Version.” A bonus 7-inch, housed in its own unique die-cut picture sleeve and manufactured at Third Man Record Pressing includes the only vinyl release of six previously-unreleased bonus tracks providing a never-before-seen glimpse into Reed’s formative years, including early demos, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” and a doo-wop serenade recorded in 1958 when the legendary singer-songwriter was just sixteen years old. An accompanying saddle-stitched, die-cut 28-page book features lyrics, archival photos, and liner notes Also included is an archival reproduction of a rarely-seen letter, written by Reed to his college professor and poet, Delmore Schwartz, circa 1964. The set includes a CD containing the complete audio from the package, housed in a die-cut jacket. 

releases August 26th, 2022

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