Posts Tagged ‘Doug Yule’

For the Velvet Underground completist This 2017 release (not to be confused with 1969 Live) compiles 1969-era Velvet Underground classics, including some rare mixes, instrumentals and alternate takes on official vinyl for the first time. Lou ReedDoug YuleSterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker spent much of their time on the road in ’69 resulting in the “lost” live album 1969 Live. Several original 1969 mixes from this era are featured here including “Foggy Notion,” “I’m Sticking with You,” “Andy’s Chest,” “I’m Gonna Move Right In,” and “Ocean,” as well as 2014 mixes of “One of These Days,” “Lisa Says,” and more. Double vinyl pressing from Republic Records,

This definitive vinyl edition of VU’s ‘lost’ fourth album presents one cohesive collection on two LPs, with many tracks and mixes making their vinyl debut. You’ll hear the original 1969 mixes of “Foggy Notion,” “I’m Sticking with You,” “Andy’s Chest,” “She’s My Best Friend,” “I’m Gonna Move Right In,” “Ferryboat Bill,” “Ocean,” “Rock & Roll,” 2014 mixes of “One of These Days,” “Lisa Says,” “Ride into the Sun,” “Coney Island Steeplechase” and more precious original recordings of an iconic band. The Velvet Underground formed in 1964 in New York City by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise (replaced by Moe Tucker in 1965).

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The Velvet Underground Share Unissued Single Version of “Rock & Roll”

The Velvet Underground announced a 45th-anniversary reissue of 1970’s album Loaded. Today, they’ve shared one of the six-disc set’s many rarities. “Rock & Roll” (Mono Single Cotillion 45-44133), from the second disc, is the mono mix featured on an unissued “Rock & Roll” single.

That final blast of the spectacular is Loaded; this latest Velvets birthday installment nicely broadens the landscape of their most straight-ahead studio disc. It’s also arguably their most influential LP, with much of their tenure as a legit cult act deriving from its merger of no-nonsense rock riffing, Tin Pan Alley-descended songwriting, and proto-glam moves. Really, any creeping fatigue over the VU reissue apparatus is easily eradicated by pondering just how influential they’ve been; for evidence,

loaded

Looking back on the circumstances around his departure from the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed had this to say in 1972: “I gave them an album loaded with hits to the point where the rest of the people showed their colours. So I left them to their album full of hits that I made.” The recording of Loaded was clearly an emotional time for Reed. The period between the March 1969 release of The Velvet Underground and the start of Loaded’s principal recording sessions in April 1970 was especially fraught for the group. They began work on a fourth studio album in May, 1969. But by August, the band had parted company with MGM – new MD Mike Curb envisaged a more wholesome direction for the label, and suspecting how that might pan out the for his charges, manager Steve Sesnick extricated the group from their contract. By November, the album had disappeared. Lou Reed, meanwhile, was having problems of his own. His long-running affair with Shelley Corwin, his muse, was in a slow decline. Increasingly disturbed by the effects of long-term drug use on close friends including Factory compatriot Billy Name, Reed responded by getting even more out of it. “Lou went out of his skull and ended up with a warped sense of time and space that lasted several weeks,”

At the start of 1970, the Velvet Underground signed to Atlantic Records, while still $30,000 in debut to MGM. Moe Tucker, meanwhile, took maternity leave in March; her stand-in was Doug Yule’s younger brother, Billy. Existing frictions between Reed and Sterling Morrison continued. “I had hardly spoken to Lou in months,” Morrison admitted to NME’s Mary Harron in 1981. “Maybe I never forgave him for wanting Cale out of the band. I was so mad at him, for real or imaginary offences, and I just didn’t want to talk. I was zero psychological assistance to Lou.” Elsewhere, other equally toxic dramas were being played out. Writing in The Velvet Underground fanzine in 1996, Doug Yule revealed, “Sesnick, always looking for the advantage, was driving wedges between everyone, trying to keep the bickering going and the communication between us shut off.”

By the time the Velvets convene to record Loaded, you could be forgiven for wondering whether they’d actually finish the album, or simply combust in the studio. The April to July sessions at Atlantic Studios, New York overlapped with a ten-week homecoming residency at Max’s Kansas City. Reed, worried about his straining his voice, ceded four lead vocals to Doug Yule. “The sessions for Loaded were extremely different than those which produced the third album,” Yule wrote. “Many of the songs had been played live, but the recorded versions were very different than the road versions. The emphasis was on air time. Every song was looked at with the understanding that there was a need to produce some kind of mainstream hit… Songs were built intellectually rather than by the processes that live performances brought to bear, instinct and trial and error.”

The songs – including their roll call of ladies: Jane, Ginny, Miss Linda Lee, Polly May and Joanna Love – represent a refinement of the band’s aesthetic – a healthy middle ground between the avant garde stylings of the first two albums and Reed’s Top 40 sensibilities. And such variety! From jaunty, Monkees style pop (“Who Loves The Sun”) to freewheeling rave-ups (“Oh, Sweet Nuthin’”). And then there’s “Sweet Jane” and “Rock & Roll”. The former, with its sensational ‘D-A-G-Bm-A’ hook, finds Reed on familiar territory, “Standing on the corner / Suitcase in my hand”, watching Jack and Jane, two straights: a banker and a clerk. Reed describes the differences between male and female, conservative and liberated, old and new, shifting perspectives as the song progresses, double backing on himself, wrong-footing the listener. It’s an immense and highly complex piece of narrative songwriting, followed by “Rock & Roll” – one of the great songs about the transformative power of music. Possibly autobiographical, it’s about five-year old Jenny, who “one fine morning turns on a New York station and she doesn’t believe what she heard at all.” Her “life is saved by rock and roll” and she is elevated to the ultimate Reed condition: “It was alright”.

“Cool It Down” is more up-tempo pop, this time with a Stonesy barroom piano, before “New Age” – another example of Reed’s next level song writing on this album. A love song of sorts – delivered by Yule – full of tender nostalgia for a “fat blond actress… over the hill now / And you’re looking for love”. But the real thing here is the song’s audacious three-act structure, beginning with the verses, rising at 3:08 to what you assume is the outro and then slipping in a majestic middle eight at 3:32 to lead you out of the song across the next minute and a half. “Head Held High” is a fun stomping boogie followed by the almost comically jaunty “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” and the beautiful “I Found A Reason” which walks a line between the doo wop so beloved by the young Reed and the stoned balladry of “Pale Blue Eyes”. The pace quickens with “Train Round The Bend” draped in eerie swathes of tremolo, before we reach the album’s hymnal-like closer, “Oh, Sweet Nuthin’”. Step forward Sterling Morrison, who delivers some fine intuitive guitar playing here opposite Reed: whatever issues they might otherwise have had, they operated entirely in synch here as Morrison’s loose, rolling guitar chords sit perfectly against Reed’s wide-ranging solos. Credit, though, is also due to Doug Yule: an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, whose work here – on bass, piano, guitar and vocals – provides a consistently solid bedrock for Reed’s flourishing songwriting.

Lou Reed left the Velvet Underground on August 28, 1970 after the final show at Max’s, leaving New York for his parents’ home in Freeport, Long Island. The strain had become too much for him. In his absence, Sesnick meddled with Loaded: he cut the “wine and roses” bridge section from “Sweet Jane”, trimmed back the ending to “New Age” and messed with Reed’s intended sequencing. Further, he shunted Reed’s name below Yule and Morrison on the band line-up for the album’s original pressing, and attributed the songwriting credits as: “All selections are by The Velvet Underground”. It took a subsequent court case to restore Reed’s full rights to all the material.

While Reed spent 1970 and 1971 in exile, Yule ploughed on with the Velvet Underground, fulfilling dates in Europe. It was a dismal end – their explosive promise fizzing out in European backwaters during the early Seventies, the corpse growing cold somewhere between Kingston Polytechnic and Northamptonshire Cricket Club. A fifth album, Squeeze, appeared in February, 1973 although this was ostensibly a Doug Yule solo record (with, curiously, Deep Purple’s Ian Paice on drums).

None of this, though, can diminish the power and brilliance of Loaded. As Reed himself observed, “Despite all the amputations, you know you could just go out and dance to a rock and roll station.” The power of rock and roll conquers all. It was alright.

Velvet Underground Unreleased

The Velvet Underground releases “The Complete Matrix Tapes” collects recordings made at San Francisco club the Matrix on November 26th and 27th, 1969. As previously reported, the four-disc box set will be released November 20th via Polydor/Universal Music Enterprises.
Including a previously unreleased recording of “We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together”.

By September 1968, Lou Reed was hell-bent on kicking John Cale out of the Velvet Underground. Reed and Cale started the band, but after two albums, Lou was no longer interested in working with the Welsh musician.

It’s always been unclear as to why Lou Reed felt this way, but the most plausible reason is that he sought to make the Velvets more accessible, while John Cale wanted to keep one foot in the avant-garde. Regardless, in late September, after what would turn out to be Cale’s final concerts with the group, Reed met with drummer Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison and gave them an ultimatum: Either Cale goes or the band is finished. Reluctantly, Tucker and Morrison agreed to sack Cale. But with Cale’s exit and upcoming concerts scheduled for the first week of October, a replacement needed to be found—and fast. Doug Yule, a Boston musician who was friendly with the band, was quickly brought into the fold. Yule would have to swiftly learn a set of songs, many of which he hadn’t heard before because they hadn’t been released yet. He made his way to New York City to rehearse for shows booked at a small venue in Cleveland called La Cave. Yule’s first gig with the Velvets is usually cited as having taken place on October 2nd, though in his exhaustive book, White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day, author Richie Unterberger writes that Yule’s debut was October 4th. Either way, the band’s new member had little time to prepare.

John Cale and Lou Reed

The Velvet Underground played two sets that first night in Cleveland with Yule, and thanks to recordings which were subsequently bootlegged, we can hear what they sounded like during this historic show. Incredibly, Yule already appears to be a good fit. He’s obviously up for the task, coming up with interesting bass lines—even singing background harmonies—on songs that he had just learned. His harmony vocal gelling perfectly with Reed’s during a lovely version of “Jesus” is just one of many cool moments. Reed’s guitar work is also noteworthy, like during the wild and weird middle section of “I Can’t Stand It,” but it’s the track that opens the first set that takes the cake.

“What Goes On” was one of many numbers played that first night that Yule barely had time to acquaint himself with (the tune would be included on their next album, The Velvet Underground, which came out the following year). There’s nothing all that interesting happening here at first (though Yule once again contributes some mighty fine harmonizing); that is, until Reed kicks off the initial solo with a fierce blast of noise. He follows up with melodic lines that resemble what would be heard on the now-familiar album take, but while the guitar tone on the LP version is psychedelic, here it’s all about volume and distortion. During the second and final solo, after a similar melodic passage, Lou lets it rip. At around the 4:52 mark, he goes into hyperactive overdrive, whipping up an atypically riotous, face melter of a solo that’s downright giddy in execution. It’s the sound of a man set free.

This joyfully savage version of “What Goes On” would appear decades later on Peel Slowly and See, VU’s 1995 boxed set, and to date it’s the only track from the Cleveland concerts to be officially released. In his liner notes for the box, David Fricke is suitably inspired by the rendition, writing that it’s “rich with pyro-fuzzbox spew and climaxes with a staccato rush of tonal destruction over Sterling Morrison’s implacable, syncopated rhythm clang.”

The Velvet Underground

As first-rate as Doug Yule is during his debut outing with the Velvet Underground, it’s Lou Reed who makes the performances extraordinary. His solos during “What Goes On” sound like they’re coming from a man who is positively euphoric. No matter what his motives were behind getting rid of John Cale, it’s undeniable when listening to him play how he felt about the end result. “What goes on in your mind?” I think we all know the answer here.