Posts Tagged ‘Loaded’

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,


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.

Rhino has a fully loaded slate for this autumn. On October 30th, the same date as the recently-announced 20th anniversary edition of Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill”, the label will give the deluxe treatment to The Velvet Underground’s fourth studio album. Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition will follow in the footsteps and format of the deluxe sets previously released by UMe for the VU’s first three albums The Velvet Underground and Nico, White Light/White Heat, and The Velvet Underground. This 6-disc box will feature:
•The original 1970 album remastered in both its stereo and mono mixes;
Demos, singles, early versions and alternate takes from the Loaded era;
•A previously unreleased Philadelphia concert from May 1970 featuring seven songs from Loaded;
•A newly-remastered and re-edited version of Live at Max’s Kansas City containing tracks from the original 1972 album plus selections from Rhino’s expanded 2004 edition; and
•Stereo and surround mixes of the original Loaded album on DVD.

By the time of the original release of Loaded on Atlantic Records’ Cotillion imprint in November 1970, Lou Reed had already departed The Velvet Underground. But the album contains some of his most beloved songs for the band including “Sweet Jane” and “Rock and Roll.” With the increased participation of Doug Yule (including on the lead vocals on four songs) and without the credited Maureen Tucker, who was pregnant at the time of the album’s recording, Loaded has a very different – and unabashedly commercially-oriented – feel than its predecessors in the group’s catalogue. (VU guitarist Sterling Morrison does play on the record. Guest drummers including Doug Yule’s brother Billy subbed for Tucker.) Remastered stereo and mono versions of the album fill out the first two discs, along with various outtakes, and the mono mix for the unissued single: “Rock & Roll” b/w “Lonesome Cowboy Bill.” The third disc explores the creative process behind many of the songs on the album with more than 20 demos, early versions and alternate mixes. An unreleased club performance feature on the fifth disc. It was recorded on May 9th, 1970 at the Second Fret in Philadelphia. The band was down to a trio that night: Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison and Doug Yule, who alternated between bass and drums to fill in for Moe Tucker, who was pregnant at the time. Loaded, which came out six months after the show, is well represented with seven songs, including: “Cool It Down,” “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” and “Sweet Jane”.

In 1997, Rhino Records released the Fully Loaded 2-CD reissue, with 23 outtakes, demos and alternate mixes. This release forms the basis of the additional material on Disc Three of Re-Loaded, with the outtakes appended to Disc One and the single versions (including two previously unreleased mono single mixes) on Disc Two. Note that, per Rhino, for the surround and stereo downmix on the DVD, the original album track listing has been slightly re-sequenced to include the segue originally planned for “I Found a Reason/Head Held High.” The press release also indicates that the album’s surround mix (the first surround release for the Velvets) will be playable in DTS and Dolby Digital.

Rhino re-loads on October 30th with this deluxe set. You can peruse the track listing and pre-order below! A single-disc remastered edition of the album will also be available at Amazon U.S. that same day. (Amazon U.K. link is TBD.)

The Velvet Underground, Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition (Rhino/Atlantic, 2015) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. TBD)

CD 1: Loaded – Remastered Stereo LP plus bonus tracks
1.Who Loves the Sun
2.Sweet Jane (Full Length Version)
3.Rock and Roll (Full Length Version)
4.Cool It Down
5.New Age
6.Head Held High
7.Lonesome Cowboy Bill
8.I Found a Reason
9 Train Round the Bend
10.Oh! Sweet Nuthin’
11.I’m Sticking with You (Outtake – New Remix)
12.Ocean (Outtake)
13.I Love You (Outtake)
14.Ride Into the Sun (Outtake)

CD 2: Loaded – Promotional Mono Version, Singles and B-Sides
1.Who Loves the Sun
2.Sweet Jane (Full Length Version)
3.Rock and Roll (Full Length Version)
4.Cool It Down
5.New Age
6.Head Held High
7.Lonesome Cowboy Bill
8.I Found a Reason
9.Train Round the Bend
10.Oh! Sweet Nuthin’
11.Who Loves the Sun Single)
12.Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ (Single)
13.Rock and Roll (*)
14.Lonesome Cowboy Bill (*)

CD 3: Demos, Early Versions and Alternate Mixes
1.Rock and Roll Demo)
2.Sad Song (Demo)
3 Satellite of Love (Demo)
4.Walk and Talk (Demo)
5.Oh Gin (Demo)
6.Ocean (Demo)
7.I Love You (Demo)
8.Love Makes You Feel Ten Feet Tall (Demo)
9.I Found a Reason (Demo)
10.Cool It Down (Early Version – Remix)
11.Sweet Jane (Early Version – Remix)
12.Lonesome Cowboy Bill (Early Version -Remix)
13.Head Held High (Early Version – Remix)
14.Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ (Early Version -Remix)
15.Who Loves the Sun (Alternate Mix)
16.Sweet Jane (Alternate Mix)
17.Cool It Down (Alternate Mix)
18.Lonesome Cowboy Bill (Alternate Mix)
19 Train Round the Bend (Alternate Mix)
20.Head Held High (Alternate Mix)
21.Rock and Roll (Alternate Mix)

CD 4: Live at Max’s Kansas City – Remastered and Re-Edited
1.I’m Waiting for the Man
2.White Light/White Heat
3.I’m Set Free
4.Sweet Jane
5.Lonesome Cowboy Bill
6.New Age
7.Beginning to See the Light
8.I’ll Be Your Mirror
9.Pale Blue Eyes
10.Candy Says
11.Sunday Morning
12.After Hours
13.Femme Fatale
14.Some Kinda Love
15.Lonesome Cowboy Bill (Version 2)

CD 5: Live at Second Fret, Philadelphia 1970 (*)
1.I’m Waiting for the Man
2.What Goes On
3.Cool It Down
4.Sweet Jane
5.Rock and Roll
6.Some Kinda Love
7.New Age
8.Candy Says
9.Head Held High
10.Train Round the Bend
11.Oh! Sweet Nuthin’

DVD: (*)
1.96/24 Hi-Resolution Surround Sound Mix (DTS, Dolby Digital)
2.96/24 Hi-Resolution Stereo Downmix
3.96/24 Original Stereo Mix

(*) denotes previously unreleased track