Posts Tagged ‘Lou Reed’

Towards the end of Talking Heads’ career, all four members of the band gathered in the studio with Lou Reed to record the Velvets’ “Femme Fatale.” The result came out on a Tom Tom Club LP (Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom), but the credits sure read like Talking Heads + Lou: Tina Weymouth on bass and keyboard, Chris Frantz on drums, Jerry Harrison on keys, David Byrne on slide and rhythm guitar, and Lou Reed on lead and rhythm guitar. Weymouth sings Nico’s part and everyone else joins in on backup vocals.

Rolling Stone reported news of the NYC supersession in 1987. It provided the happy ending to “Are Four (Talking) Heads Better Than One?,” a profile that suggested the foursome was held together with Scotch tape and chewing gum, and contained some bons mots from Lou:

Back in earlier, calmer days, the band looked to Lou Reed as a sort of patron saint. He doled out advice like “Get some dynamics in your songs” or “David should wear a long-sleeved shirt – his arms are too hairy.” And more profound warnings, which the band still remembers today. Chris: “Lou Reed once told us, ‘Man, I’ve gotta go out on tour again. People want to view the body.’” Tina: “He told us, ‘A band is like a fist of many fingers. Whereas record companies like to ego-massage one finger and break it off.’”

The Byrne/Frantz/Harrison/Reed/Weymouth “Femme Fatale”:

In 1993, the BBC documentary series Arena devoted four episodes to “Tales of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The third of this series focused entirely on the real-life figures in Lou Reed’s most famous song, “Walk on the Wild Side,” collecting footage of and fascinating biographical detail about each superstar sketched in the song’s verses—Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, “Little” Joe Dallesandro, Sugar Plum Fairy and Jackie Curtis.

I don’t know how the producers managed to keep Bono out of this documentary, but somehow they were able to limit the show’s interview subjects to people who actually had some business talking about this scene, such as Factory resident Billy Name, photographer Lee Black Childers and Reed/Warhol biographer Victor Bockris. Their perspectives are interesting. For instance, where many sources now identify the Sugar Plum Fairy as Joe Campbell, the former boyfriend of Harvey Milk whose character in My Hustler was called the Sugar Plum Fairy, Billy Name says this is too narrow an interpretation:

If you’re in the world of music or drugs, there is always a Sugar Plum Fairy: the one who delivers, who brings the stuff to you. Now, during this time, from ‘64 to ‘70, there were two individuals I knew who were called the Sugar Plum Fairy, as a nickname. Neither of the individuals who were the Sugar Plum Fairy were important to remember. Their only significance is that they became that character at that point. Lou, in “Walk on the Wild Side,” took poetic license. The Sugar Plum Fairy. The man, like in “Heroin” or “I’m Waiting for the Man” The guy who delivers to you, the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Certainly there are worse ways to spend the holidays than lounging in bed with Holly Woodlawn and Andy Warhol.

The Warhol Superstars were a clique of New York City personalities promoted by Andy Warhol during the 1960s and early 1970s. The Superstars appeared in Warhol’s artworks and accompanied him in his social life. They epitomized Warhol’s famous dictum: “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” The Lôu Rëed song ‘Take A Walk On The Wild Side’ (1972) offers insight into a few of the Warhol Superstars – Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis and Joe Campbell (referred to in the song by his nickname Sugar Plum Fairy).

This is the same material as released on the albums “Rock’n’Roll Animal” and “Lou Reed Live” and from the recordings of the same tour. Although the band are as tight as they were on the seventies albums, The bonus tracks on Rock’n’Roll Animal were originally withheld because Lou wasn’t completely satisfied with his vocal performance . It’s a worthwhile addition to Lou’s live collection. Recorded a few weeks before what was to become the classic that is the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal’ album . It’s a slightly different ordered set, but tight and immensely powerful. Lou’s voice is indeed ‘strained’ to put it politely, but it doesn’t detract too much, and I can’t stop playing this album. A great curiosity I guess, but one well worth acquiring. I loved this era of Lou’s career for all it’s perceived faults, and I loved this band One of rock’s greatest bands.

Lou Reed – vocals, guitar; Steve Hunter – guitar; Dick Wagner -guitar; Ray Colcord – organ; Prakash John – bass; Pentti Glan – drums

This set, recorded at Loew’s Palace Concert Theater in Providence a week prior to the classic live album recording, captures this moment in time when Reed was creating emotionally honest musical turbulence on stage.

This recording begins with the band developing the soon-to-be classic opening jam for “Sweet Jane” that would eventually come to define the sound and creativity of this band. However here it is utilized as a prelude to “Vicious” instead. This opening jam clearly points the way toward the sound Reed fans would soon experience on his live Rock & Roll Animal album. The ambiguous “How Do You Think It Feels,” “Caroline Says 1” and “Lady Day,” all from the “Berlin” album follow in sneering style. Despite the first and third of these being incomplete, it is tantalizing to hear these musicians beginning to tackle the Berlin material. A tough, undulating “I’m Waiting For The Man” is up next, with this propulsive rhythm section taking this classic Velvets song to another level.

Following some tuning, the group eases into “Heroin,” and audible applause of recognition is heard from the audience. Every group added their own dimensions to this song and this band is no exception. One of the key elements is Ray Colcord, whose organ work greatly enhances the rush feeling following the verses leading into each jam sequence. Although all of the preceding material is engaging, “Heroin” finds the band fully hitting their stride and features an inspired vocal from Reed. The cascading flow of music from this band engulfs the lyrics as Reed battles his way through the highs and lows of addiction.

From here on out, most of the songs segue directly from one to the other. Upon the conclusion of the last frenzied rush in “Heroin,” where the group is fully cooking away, an incredibly abrupt transition occurs, where they suddenly ease into the opening bars of “Sweet Jane.” Both “Sweet Jane” and the “Satellite of Love” that follows, are incomplete, but the latter song is particularly interesting here. While “Satellite” was a dreamy, downright romantic ballad during the European tour leg earlier in the year, here the song has become far more forceful and upon it’s conclusion another remarkable transition occurs, as the band skillfully drops into the opening bars of “Walk On The Wild Side.” This segue is so well done that Reed can clearly be heard spontaneously exclaiming “Perfect! Alright!” to his band members. Also of note here is the wonderful bass work of new recruit Prakash John and the entire band providing background vocals much like the album arrangement. Certainly one of Reed’s most fully realized character studies, this is followed by another in the form of “Oh Jim.” Clocking in at nearly 12 minutes, “Oh Jim” gradually ratchets up the tension before blazing into a searing jam featuring plenty of great call and response guitar work from Hunter and Wagner. Another skillful segue occurs out of “Oh Jim” as the band transitions into the lurching beat of “Sad Song.” Once again, Reed cannot contain his elation and he exclaims “Beautiful!” as they begin. This is another great example of this band in top form, with fine vocal arrangements and the guitarists playing unison leads that couldn’t possibly be tighter. Just as a brief organ interlude from Colcord ends this number, the group immediately launches into the set closer, “White Light / White Heat.” This classic Velvets number is taken at a fast clip, with both guitarists reinforcing the chugging rhythm section. Colcord serves up a frantic electric piano solo, in addition to playing organ here, adding a whole new dimension to this song. This is a blazing conclusion to an extraordinary sequence that leaves the audience wanting more. Reed and the band return for an encore of “Rock And Roll.” A strong rendition all around, this features a highly engaged instrumental rave-up at the end and a standout contribution from Prakash John, whose bass is very prominent in the mix. A downright awesome performance, this number becomes an anthem for the only thing that can save Reed’s life: rock and roll.

In retrospect, 1973 was a year of massive growth for Lou Reed and certainly a critical step in his approach to live performing. Regardless of how the shows on this tour were perceived at the time, something important was clearly going on here. The melding of Reed’s unique brand of decadent, literate music with a big arena rock sound would eventually reach the masses in a way The Velvet Underground never could. The strange contrast between Reed’s detached, blasé vocals and the hard rocking professionalism of his backup band is the essence of its appeal.

Image may contain: 1 person, playing a musical instrument and guitar

By the mid-’70s, Lou Reed had been through a lifetime of rock ‘n’ roll experiences in just a little more than a decade. From early-’60s session work to the Velvet Underground to the unexpected chart success in the early ’70s with the solo hit “Walk On the Wild Side,” Reed was never one to stay in limbo. He followed his hit Transformer album with the dark and haunting Berlin, the live album Rock and Roll Animal and the back-to-basics Sally Can’t Dance.
His next move remains one of the most famous middle fingers in the history of music: the 1975 release of Metal Machine Music, a double album of guitar feedback and other noise effects. Was it a joke, a bold artistic statement, a contractual obligation or all of these? In early 1976, Reed told an interviewer, “I committed a number of blasphemous acts that I can back myself up on, only in saying that it got me the chance to make Metal Machine Music, and it gave me the power to make Coney Island Baby my way, from top to bottom.

That’s why I did Metal Machine Music. It was supposed to clear the air. Most people, even if you are into electronic music, aren’t going to listen to that.”
Reed was back on a more conventional path with Coney Island Baby in early 1976, and by October, he returned with the self-produced Rock and Roll Heart, his seventh solo album. It’s another of Reed’s more conventional records, opening with the soul-injected “I Believe in Love,” which surges along with R&B horns. Its refrain of “Good time music, good time rock ‘n’ roll” is a 180-degree turn from the barrage of noise found on Metal Machine Music.
Reed sticks to traditional music here: “Banging on My Drum” is a straightforward rocker, “Follow the Leader” is funky and “You Wear It So Well” is a soulful ballad. On “Ladies Pay,” he even sounds like he’s imitating Patti Smith imitating Lou Reed.

There’s much use of horns on Rock and Roll Heart, bearing the influence of early rock ‘n’ roll and jazz that often hangs out in Reed’s work. The closing “Temporary Thing,” one of the album’s best tracks, creates a tension that never breaks over five intense minutes as it borrows from the Velvets, jazz and soul music.
Like many of Reed’s albums from the late ’70s and early ’80s, “Rock and Roll Heart” doesn’t get much love these days. But give it a chance. It’s a fresh and intriguing listen, hardly the throwaway its critics claim.

A half a century ago this year, the Velvet Underground released its debut LP, “The Velvet Underground & Nico.” This enduringly transgressive album would go on to earn the music-industry axiom, that although relatively few people bought it initially, everyone who did started a band.

The Velvet Underground — featuring Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker, with additional vocals from the German singer Nico — would enter Scepter Studios in New York to record its first professional demos of songs like “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and “Heroin.”

One night at a club in New York — described in The New York Times then as “the temporary cinema-discotheque that Andy Warhol , the apostle of Pop Culture, has installed at 23 St. Marks Place” it was all so new. Attendees, wrote, you could “grope their way to the dance floor in blackness that is broken only by hallucinatory flashes of multicolored lights in order to wriggle, writhe and tremble to the music of the Velvet Undergrounds, a four-piece band whose chanteuse is a fashion model answering only to the name of Nico.” The group was merely a detail in the story and getting its name right was not yet a priority.

The concert was part of Warhol’s traveling multimedia shows, known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which mixed projected films, live music and dance. (The entry fee for the night: $2.) Gerard Malanga, a Warhol associate and Factory collaborator, can be seen shimmying onstage with the fresh-faced Velvets. “It was an ephemeral but everlasting experience,” he recalled in an interview this week.

While the images show a split between the squares seated, straight-faced, at clothed tables, and those letting loose on the dance floor, Mr. Malanga remembered the atmosphere as “one of participation and excitement.”

“The crowd looks like they were all grown-ups everybody looks so well-behaved,” he said. “I do remember it being younger and more lively.”

In the celebration of the 50-year anniversary of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” — plus the news that Lou Reed’s personal archive has now been acquired by the New York Public Library.

By now it’s a pretty famous story of how some guy found a one-of-a-kind acetate pressing of an early, 1966 version of what would become “The Velvet Underground and Nico” album on a New York City street for 75 cents, then sold it on eBay for 25 Grand. It’s known as “The Norman Dolph Acetate”,
The acetate itself was of course very scratchy. This bootleg vinyl released a couple years ago, apparently from Sweden but who knows, offers a beautifully cleaned-up version of the acetate. But you should also go to WFMU’s blog and get the original, scratchy version. For comparison at least. Or history. Apparently this recording was sent back from Columbia Records with a note that said, “You have got to be fucking kidding!” Note that this version of the LP starts off, audaciously, with an even noisier version of European Son, a whole minute longer at 8:49 and a whole lot more cacophonous than the final version which ended up at the opposite end, closing the LP. Also notable are very different versions of “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “Venus In Furs”.

That album was The Velvet Underground and Nico, a uniquely groundbreaking release from a band of arty New York misfits and marketed by the creative whims of one of the most iconic figures of the time:Andy Warhol . The cornerstone of the Velvet Underground’s image and sound was the songwriting of Lou Reed. A socially-awkward Jewish kid from Long Island, Reed’s musical voice, like so many others, was forged in pop and in pain. He taught himself how to play R&B songs on guitar by listening to the radio, eventually forming a doo-wopish group as a teen. Reed also began suffering panic attacks and after a mental breakdown following his first semester at NYU, his parents submitted him for electroshock therapy.

“Panic attacks and social phobias beset him,” wrote Reed’s sister, Merrill Reed Weiner, in 2015. “He possessed a fragile temperament. His hyper-focus on the things he liked led him to music and it was there that he found himself.”

But Lou Reed’s love of music became his guide, and rock ‘n’ roll became his voice. He eventually landed work as a pop songwriter, churning out middling hits for Pickwick Records while composing songs for himself on the side. His approach was to keep things simple and direct.

“I studied classical piano, and the minute I could play something I started writing new things,” Reed said in 2004. “And I switched to guitar and did the same thing. And the nice thing about rock is, besides the fact that I was in love with it, anyone can play that. And to this day anyone can play a Lou Reed song. Anybody. It’s the same essential chords, just various ways of looking at them. There is nothing special about it, and it only becomes special when I can’t do it. When I can’t do it I’m very impressed by the person who can, and when I can do it, it means nothing. But I would write new things from the day I could play anything.”

Reed had been inspired by as much as R&B as pop, and his edgy approach belied a music lover whose tastes were informed by a wide variety of influences.

“There were two sides of the coin for me: That kind of music—R&B, doo-wop, rockabilly. And then Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry, Archie Shepp, stuff like that,” Reed told rock journalist David Fricke in 1989. “When I was in college, I had a jazz radio show. I called it Excursion on a Wobbly Rail, after a Cecil Taylor song. I used to run around the Village following Ornette Coleman wherever he played. There was his song ‘Lonely Woman,’ Charlie Haden’s bass on that [he hums the riff]. Extraordinary.”

What would become the Velvet Underground started in 1964, when Reed met experimental instrumentalist John Cale and formed a band called The Primitives. With Reed on guitar and Cale on virtually everything else, they eventually added guitarist Sterling Morrison and percussionist Angus Maclise. After a short stint as The Falling Spikes, the fledgling quartet dubbed themselves “The Velvet Underground” after Michael Leigh’s book about sexual subculture in the 1960s. After Maclise suddenly left the group prior to their first paying gig, Morrison brought in Maureen Tucker to play drums. With Tucker’s unique approach (she used mallets more than drumsticks and never played cymbals), the Velvet Underground’s classic sound began to come together.

Gigging around New York City, the band eventually was introduced to Andy Warhol and became fixtures at The Factory, his famous studio in the Decker Building on Union Square West. Warhol insisted on becoming their manager, and centered the Velvet Underground in his ambitious pop art roadshow, Exploding Plastic Inevitable, with the VU’s music combined in showcase with experimental films from Warhol and his associates. The exposure raised the band’s profile significantly—despite the fact that Warhol had little-to-no influence on their actual approach or sound and rarely operated as a traditional manager for the band.

“We needed someone like Andy,” John Cale has said . “He was a genius for getting publicity. Once we were in Providence to play at the Rhode Island School of Design and they sent a TV newsman to talk to us. Andy did the interview lying on the ground with his head propped up on one arm. There were some studded balls with lights shining on them and when the interviewer asked him why he was on the ground, Andy said, ‘So I can see the stars better.’ The interview ended with the TV guy lying flat on his back saying, ‘Yeah, I see what you mean.’”

“I loved him on sight, he was obviously one of us,” said Reed in 2004. “He was right. I didn’t know who he was, I wasn’t aware of any of that, amazingly enough. But he was obviously a kindred spirit if ever there was one, and so smart with charisma to spare. But really so smart. And for a quote ‘passive’ guy, he took over everything. He was the leader, which would be very surprising for a lot of people to work out. He was in charge of us, everyone. You look towards Andy, the least likely person, but in fact the most likely. He was so smart, so talented and 24 hours a day going at it.”

It was Warhol who famously pushed the Velvet Underground to add German model Nico as they worked on their first album—a move that the band resented.

“We were together as a band, and then Nico showed up at the Factory,” said Morrison in 1980. “Andy said, ‘Oh, here we have Nico. Would you like her to sing with you?’ We said, ‘Well, we couldn’t dis-like it.’ That’s how we became the Velvet Underground and Nico. She just came kind of creeping in. We knew that it couldn’t last, because we didn’t have that many songs she could sing. Lou and I cranked out some songs for her. ‘Femme Fatale’—she always hated that. Nico, whose native language is minority French, would say, ‘The name of this song is ‘Fahm Fahtahl.’ Lou and I would sing it our way. Nico hated that. I said, ‘Nico, hey, it’s my title, I’ll pronounce it my way.’”

“Lou and I were sort of startled,” Cale recalled  “Moe didn’t know what to make of it. And Sterling was harumphing . . . But, y’know, after a little bit, you got to understand Andy, and that was really pure Andy. Everybody suddenly started looking at us in a different way.”

The VU began recording the album in the spring of 1966 at the ramshackle Scepter Studios in New York City. The original acetate was shopped around to labels and routinely dismissed, prompting the band to re-record several songs. To facilitate a more marketable approach to the music, producer Tom Wilson, who had produced Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel , was brought in to remix some tracks. In Los Angeles, the Velvet Underground would re-record “Waiting For the Man,” “Venus and Furs” and “Heroin,” a seven-minute composition Lou Reed had begun as far back as 1964. At Wilson’s urging, the band also recorded the more radio-friendly “Sunday Morning.”

“I’d been around studios before, writing and recording these cutout-bin kind of records, trendy songs that sell for ninety-nine cents,” Reed said in 1989. “But Andy absorbed all the flak. Then MGM said they wanted to bring in a real producer, Tom Wilson. So that’s how you got ‘Sunday Morning,’ with all those overdubs—the viola in the back, Nico chanting. But he couldn’t undo what had already been done.”

For all of its visceral feel and focus, the debut album from the Velvet Underground opens with this rather delicate ballad. “Sunday Morning” it features Lou Reed cooing in his most preciously girlie voice about “all the streets you cross not so long ago.” The song is a beautiful ode to paranoia (“Watch out—the world’s behind you”), and an early indicator that Reed was capable of remarkably simple melodicism that rivaled the more mainstream songwriters of the era while not directly emulating any of them. “Sunday Morning” was explicitly written to be a single, and is one of the most pop-friendly songs on the album. Wilson wanted the tune to be a showcase for Nico; nonetheless, it was Reed who sang the lilting lead vocal.

The jaggedly jaunty classic “I’m Waiting For the Man” sits somewhere between Bob Dylan, Lead Belly and glam rock, laying a sonic foundation on which David Bowie would build his church (Bowie recorded a live cover in 1972). The soundtrack for a white hipster’s travels uptown to score drugs, Reed’s crass “Hey white boy, what you doin’ uptown?” jive along with the strutting rhythm sounded more urban and streetwise than anything else happening in rock at the time. The declaration of “Man, you gotta split ‘cause he got no time to waste” captured the awkward hastiness of scoring some shit, with Reed’s chugging chords and Morrison’s Cropper-esque guitar lines swerving against the melody throughout.

The dirge-like “Venus In Furs” drips with sex and oozes doom. It’s an S&M-driven masterpiece that features Cale’s dissonant viola set against Maureen Tucker’s thumping drums. Reed’s lyrics are inspired by the novella of the same name—by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (“I didn’t write the book. But what a great book to throw into a song,” Reed would say in 1988), with declarations to “Strike dear mistress, and cure his heart” and references to “Sevrin” who “awaits you there.” The primary narrative of the novella describes the suprasexuality of Severin von Kusiemski, who is smitten with a woman named Wanda von Dunajew and longs to be dominated by her in degrading ways.

The forced addition of Nico adds an off-kilter element to the three songs on which she’s featured. Her icy vocal is best highlighted on the swirling midtempo “Femme Fatale,” a song inspired by Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick. Warhol had requested Reed write a dedication to Sedgwick specifically, and “Femme Fatale” would be the first of many Reed compositions inspired by personalities he’d met at Warhol’s Factory. Reed’s observations of the people at Warhol’s Factory also inspired the Nico-led “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” Cale’s repetitive piano drives the melancholy feel, as the lyrics detail a sad woman who has lost her family. She was among the personalities Reed had encountered around Warhol.

Despite Reed’s declaration that “if anybody played a blues lick [in the band], they would be fined,” “Run Run Run” sounds like Slim Harpo sitting in with a garage band, with a driving rhythm turned on its ear and driven dissonant with Morrison’s jagged leads and Reed’s abrasive solo. It’s another song focused squarely on New York City junkie life, with lyrics that detail strung-out characters Teenage Mary, Margarita Passion, Seasick Sarah, and Beardless Harry, who need to “get a fix” and “rode the trolleys down to 47” to “get himself to heaven.”

“There She Goes Again” is the album’s most explicitly R&B-influenced track; the opening guitar rhythm is directly lifted from Marvin Gaye’s 1962 hit “Hitch Hike” and the backing vocals are straightforward harmonizing—or at least as close to it as the Velvet Underground got. Reed’s lyrics focus on the daily life of a prostitute: “She’s out on the streets again / She’s down on her knees, my friend / But you know she’ll never ask you please again.” The song never presents the woman as a tragic figure. In keeping with many of Reed’s characters, her life is just a reflection of reality—not a cautionary tale: “Now take a look, there’s no tears in her eyes / Like a bird, you know she would fly, what can you do / You see her walkin’ on down the street / Look at all your friends that she’s gonna meet…”

Nico’s vocals on “I’ll Be Your Mirror” became a source of frustration for Morrison and Reed. The German model seemed to be adamant in singing the song aggressively, which neither of the band members felt was suitable. After Morrison decided that they would scrap the song if she couldn’t get it right, Nico sang the final vocal in one take. It would be one of the first commercially available songs by the Velvet Underground—a single that was released in July 1966, almost a year before the album itself.

Cale’s experimentalism was at the core of “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” with dissonant viola and droning rhythms. The Chuck Berry-esque guitar riff repeats early on and slowly descends into avant-noise with feedback and distortion—as well as a crash of plates, courtesy of Cale—with Reed singing dismissive lyrics aimed at writer Delmore Schwartz, who was a mentor to Reed during the rocker’s time at Syracuse University. The lyrics don’t directly mention Schwartz, but original pressings of the album titled the track “European Son (Dedication to Delmore Schwartz.)”

One of the most harrowing and beautiful drug songs ever recorded, “Heroin” is an epic that seems to define the album. Opening with Reed’s distinctively melodic guitar lines and building into a cacophony of sound that evokes the rush of shooting up, it was a daring record—even during the “mind expanding” rhetoric of the 1960s. Hippie bands were singing about marijuana and LSD, but the darkness and danger of heroin was something else entirely. The element of release was there, but this was a harder addiction—something that the idealistic flower-power crowd hadn’t broached on record. Reed relished standing apart from what was supposedly the counterculture of the time.

In a 1987 interview, he told Joe Smith, “When [bands] did try to get, in quotes, ‘arty,’ it was worse than stupid rock ‘n’ roll,” he said. “What I mean by ‘stupid,’ I mean, like, the Doors. I never liked the Beatles, I thought they were garbage. If you say, ‘Who did you like?’ I liked nobody.”

The Velvet Underground’s “arty outsider” ethos and fiercely New York image went against the grain in 1967, but their association with Andy Warhol kept the band’s profile relatively high for an act that was never very mainstream. The weight of Warhol’s image over the band came to be something that the Velvet Underground chafed against—especially after The Velvet Underground and Nico was released with the “produced by Andy Warhol” tag on the sleeve.

John Cale fully understood the power of Warhol’s vision when the he saw what would become the iconic album cover for The Velvet Underground and Nico. The inspiration was purely spontaneous and indicative of how Warhol saw high art in the everyday. Warhol had noticed a magazine in the waiting room at an earlier doctor’s appointment; there was an ad inside that featured a banana with a peel-away sticker that revealed the nutrients in a banana. “He called me over and showed me: this is the album cover,” Cale said in 2011. “He said ‘What do you think of this as an album cover?’ I thought it was amazing.”

The Velvet Underground and Nico was finally released on March 12th, 1967, but a pending lawsuit from actor Eric Emerson (his image was inadvertently featured in the background of the album’s back sleeve, in a photo of the band performing) led to it being shelved briefly and redistributed that summer. With the Summer of Love in full swing and much of the world fawning over Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper…, The Velvet Underground and Nico barely made a commercial dent. Shortly thereafter, the band broke from Warhol. And Nico, always viewed as a temporary affiliate of the Velvet Underground as opposed to an actual member, went her own way. She would release six solo albums before her death in 1988.

The Velvet Underground, of course, would release three more seminal albums, White Light/White Heat, their eponymous 1969 album, and 1970’s Loaded, before ultimately deteriorating (Cale would leave after White Light/White Heat and be replaced by Doug Yule; Reed and Morrison left the band after Loaded.) Cale would become one of the world’s most highly-regarded experimental rock artists, and Reed would go on to a legendary solo career, becoming one of the most revered rock songwriters of his generation before his death in 2013.

The Velvet Underground and Nico now looked more like the future of rock music. With its embrace of dissonant sounds, unapologetically gritty subject matter and simplistic rhythms and songwriting, the album is a jumping-off point for virtually every form of “alternative” music that would take hold over the next 30 years. Glam, punk, noise rock, art rock, ’80s college rock—it all seemed to draw from something established on The Velvet Underground and Nico. There has never been a rock album more ahead of its time.

Tracks:
01. European Son
02. The Black Angel’s Death Song
03. All Tomorrow’s Parties
04. I’ll Be Your Mirror
05. Heroin
06. Femme Fatale
07. Venus In Furs
08. I’m Waiting For The Man
09. Run Run Run

 

Lou Reed had been in mourning for the past few years at least when it came to his albums. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the middle-aged rocker had delivered an epitaph for the Big Apple New York and a tribute to the late Andy Warhol “Songs For Drella”, created in collaboration with his old Velvets band mate John Cale.

When he began work on his 16th studio album in 1991, Lou Reed didn’t plan on continuing to sift his music through a black veil. But life or, perhaps, death had other plans.

“I was originally going to write an album about magic … the desire for magic in life … the magic of transformation … the idea of a man turning into a bird,”   said Reed  “But my two friends died during this time and I wrote ‘What’s Good’ and that started the other songs, not necessarily in order you find them on the album. It was painful to write, but it was obvious what it was about. All I had to do was look at that line, ‘What good is cancer in April,’ and I knew.”

So the songwriter combined the two themes on Magic and Loss, eventually discovering a balance between the enchanting wonders of life and the fragile mortality of human beings. Or, as Reed intones on the final, title track, “There’s a bit of magic in everything and then some loss to even things out.”

Reed suggests loss in the lyrics of these dozen songs via hospital visits, tubes in arms and defunct phone numbers. The newly christened elder statesman draws on his familiar deadpan poetry to grieve for his friends: legendary songwriter Doc Pomus and Warhol “Factory” pal Rotten Rita. The music on Magic and Loss is often as unadorned as Reed’s delivery, riding chugging guitars and simple percussion, with a hint of magic to be found in bendy bass turns and the occasional, ragged freakout.

“I just hope it doesn’t start getting thought of as this terrible down death album, because that’s not at all what I mean by it,” the rock legend said. “I think of it as a really positive album, because the loss is transformed magically into something else. The way these two people face these things. They were giants throughout their lives and they were giants in these situations also, and a lot can be learned from them. I was very lucky to know them through all of it.”

Despite its perception as a difficult album, Magic and Loss became one of Reed’s most successful albums after it was released on January. 14th, 1992. Greeted with warm, even effusive, reviews from many rock writers, the record became his highest-charting U.K. LP (No. 6) and boasted the U.S. No. 1 Modern Rock Tracks single “What’s Good.” The praise and success shocked Reed.

“Astonished would cover it. It’s very strange,” said Lou after the album came out. “In a sense it’s my dream album, because everything finally came together to where the album is finally fully realized. I got it to do what I wanted it to do, but commercial thoughts never entered into it, so I’m just stunned.”

“Between two Aprils I lost two friends/Between two Aprils magic and loss…”.

The short inscription Lou Reed wrote in the liner notes to his 1992 album Magic and Loss is the backdrop to one of the most inspired albums of his career. At the end of the album credits he wrote: “This album is dedicated to Doc and especially to Rita”. While he preferred to keep the identity of Rita away from the public (“Rita wouldn’t have wanted to be known. I was a very lucky person to know her”), he was open about his recent friendship with legendary songwriter Doc Pomus who died in 1991. Magic and Loss captures the pain and emotions that Reed felt as his friends were dying. This is the story of the album, the musicians who influenced and created it and most importantly, the amazing songs Reed wrote as a healing process from the death of his friends.

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T Rex  –  Taverne De L’ Olympia Paris 1971

Limited Edition of 300 – Pressed on Purple Vinyl, The Earliest recorded Live performance by T.Rex whilst still a 3 piece band – Features the single Ride A White Swan All royalties go to Light Of Love foundation for The Marc Bolan School Of Music.

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Lou Reed –  American Poet (Deluxe Edition)

Recorded live at Alice Tully Hall, NYC, January 27, 1973. Re- Packaged with completely new design photos and liner notes housed in deluxe card gatefold sleeve – Re mastered audio. CD Contains additional bonus disc of Unreleased U.S broadcast of the very first ‘proper’ Lou Reed solo show before the global Hit Walk On The Wild Side’. Contains classic Velvet Underground tracks’ I’m Waiting for the Man, Heroin, Sister Ray, Sweet Jane, and White Light White heat.

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Woods  –  Live At Third Man Records

There are certain bands in this supersaturated, hyper-fragmented, temperamental internet era that rise above ephemeral popularity not because they perpetually reinvent themselves or stay ahead of trends or make headlines with crazy antics or write a mega hit or have a super dreamy frontperson… there are certain bands that rise above because of one characteristic that trumps all others: consistency. Woods is one of those bands, and their wheelhouse is a decidedly mellow blend of folk, psych, soul, and funk that’s wise beyond its years in timbre and lyric. It’s a comforting kind of music Woods makes. It doesn’t take you anywhere you don’t want to go, even if they world they depict is less and less hospitable with every passing day. It’s a soundscape reflective of the world it was created in, and its lack of call-it-action and angst makes it endlessly listenable for those of us with regrettably overactive minds. With over ten years and nine studio records under their belt, this Brooklyn band also runs their own label and 2-day festival at Big Sur, and has carved out a loyal legion of appreciators who extol their steadfast artistry and work ethic. We got to see the Nashville Chapter of this legion, as well as a whole slew of new members, at their live taping in our Nashville Blue room, Monday May 2nd. All captured on their Live at Third Man Records LP.

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Neil Young  –  Peace Trail

Neil Young releases the brand new studio album Peace Trail on Reprise Records. Peace Trail features all new songs that Young wrote since the release of his album Earth in June. This new album is primarily acoustic and reflects an intimate, sparse approach to each of the ten songs within. The album was recorded at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios and features Young on vocals and guitar, Jim Keltner on drums, and Paul Bushnell on bass. It was produced by Young and John Hanlon .

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Lucy Rose – Live At Urchin Studios

Live at Urchin Studios is Lucy Rose’s latest record, recorded in just one hour in front of a live audience at Urchin Studios, London. Rose has spent the last year touring mostly acoustically, not just in the UK and Europe but India, Turkey and for 8 weeks in Latin America where she lived with fans and played gigs every night for free. It was during this experience that she decided to record an acoustic live record with fellow bandmate Alex Eichenberger as many fans wanted to be able to listen to the songs again in this stripped down fashion. The record consists of six songs from Rose’s first LP, Like I Used To, and four from her second, Work It Out. The album is stripped back, raw, real, full of emotion and made entirely for the fans. Each song finds a new home in this intimate setting and highlights the stunning songwriting and vocals of an evolving artist.

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Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – The Complete Studio Albums Volume 1 (1976-1991)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers commemorate the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album by releasing two companion vinyl box sets featuring their entire studio album repertoire. Several of these albums have been out of print on vinyl for years and all albums have been remastered for this release except where noted. All LP’s in each of the limited-edition box sets are pressed on 180-gram vinyl with replica artwork.

The Complete Studio Albums Volume 1 (1976-1991) features nine vinyl albums and features:

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
You’re Gonna Get It!
Damn The Torpedoes
Hard Promises
Long After Dark
Southern Accents
Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)
Full Moon Fever
Into The Great Wide Open

John Cale has announced details of a major open-air gig in Liverpool next year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico.

The show at Liverpool Docklands on 26th May is the only European date for Cale’s celebration of the Velvet Underground’s iconic debut LP, with the album to be played in full alongside a specially assembled band at a purpose-built stage facing towards the Atlantic Ocean. Widely regarded as one of the most influential albums in history, The Velvet Underground & Nico will only be played again in full at one further show in New York.

Announcing the gig, Cale said: “I’m often reluctant to spend too much time on things past – then, a time marker shows up – The Velvet Underground & Nico turns fifty! As so many bands can attest to, it is the fulfillment of the ultimate dream to record your first album.

“We were an unfriendly brand, dabbling in a world of challenging lyrics and weird sonics that didn’t fit into anyone’s playlist at the time. Remaining ferociously true to our viewpoints, Lou (Reed) and I never doubted for a moment we could create something to give a voice to things not regularly explored in rock music at the time. That bizarre combination of four distinctly disparate musicians and a reluctant beauty queen perfectly summed up what it meant to be The Velvet Underground.

John Cale

 

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Julia Jacklin –  Don’t Let The Kids Win

Julia Jacklin highly anticipated debut album, ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’, is released via Transgressive Records. Hailing from the Australian Blue Mountains, Julia Jacklin is a guitarist and singer like no other. Her music courses with the aching current of alt-country and indie-folk, augmented by her undeniable calling cards: her rich, distinctive voice, and her playful, observational wit. For the past several years Jacklin has lived in a garage in Glebe (a suburb of Sydney), working a day job on a factory production line making essential oils, all the while finding time to hone her craft – to examine her turns of phrase, to observe the stretching of her friendship circles, to wonder who she was and who she might become. And now, as Jacklin quits her factory job to focus solely on a music career, the future she had once imagined is becoming her present day reality. For fans of Margo Price, Mazzy Star and Lana Del Ray.

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Hiss Golden Messenger  –  Heart Like A Levee

The writing of the songs that became ‘Heart Like a Levee’ started in a hotel room in Washington DC in January of 2015 during a powerful storm that darkened the East Coast. At that time I was feeling – more acutely than I had ever felt before – wrenched apart by my responsibilities to my family and to my music. Forgetting, momentarily, that for me, each exists only with the other. How could I forget? Though maybe my lapse was reasonable: I had just quit my job, the most recent and last, in a series of dead-end gigs stretching back 20 years, with the vow that my children would understand their father as a man in love with his world and the inventor of his own days. They would be rare in that regard. And then – driven by monthly bills and pure fear – I left for another tour, carrying a load of guilt that I could just barely lift. But in that snowy hotel room I found the refrain that became my compass: I was a dreamer, babe, when I set out on the road; but did I say I could find my way home? M.C. Taylor Available CD – Digipak with poster style insert. 11 Tracks.2CD – Deluxe 2CD is Digipak / Softpak with obi wrap and poster style insert. Includes the 8 Track ‘Vestapol’. 19 Tracks total.LP – 11 Tracks with Download.2LP – Deluxe 2LP in Gatefold Sleeve poster plus obi wrap and Download. Includes the 8 Track ‘Vestapol‘. 19 Tracks total.

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Goat Girl  –  Country Sleaze / Scum

Limited to just 500 Copies on Rough Trade Records. The debut single by teenage South London four piece Goat Girl. Goat Girl head up an emerging set of groups from South London who have been inspired by the burgeoning local circuit there. Goat Girl are a special band. Songs that use subtlety as their main ingredient while remaining disarmingly fierce at every turn. Lyrics that mean everything despite being written down in the most simplistic and non-aggressive way possible… they are an anomaly in the UK music scene as 2016 draws to a draggy close: four people playing guitars, bass and drums who have the ability to make you feel //alive// again. Goat Girl release two songs on Rough Trade, each one a caustic commentary on the England they’ve grown up in: Country Sleaze is a brooding two-chord time capsule that sounds like it’s been beamed over from a Seattle divebar in 1989. Both tracks were recorded purposefully quickly in a no-nonsense north London studio a few weeks ago with fast-rising producer Margo Broom

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C Duncan – The Midnight Sun

Glasgow’s prodigious talent C Duncan released his critically acclaimed and Mercury Prize nominated debut full-length ‘Architect’ last July, wrapping up an extremely successful first year with a headline tour and stunning sell-out performance at Union Chapel. Follow up ‘The Midnight Sun’ sees the bedroom producer return with a more expansive and experimental second offering, blending electronic elements and sweeping synth sounds with his signature layered vocals and dreamy instrumentation.

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Babeheaven  –  Moving On

Babeheaven return with their second single on Handsome Dad and limited to just 250 Copies. It’s a beautifully immersive slice of ethereal trip-hop. Pinned together with lead vocalist Nancy Andersen’s shimmering voice, it’s another smooth triumph for the London based five piece. As time passes, it feels kinda like they’re morphing into this generation’s Portishead.

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White Lies  – Friends

After three consecutive Top 5 albums, White Lies release their fourth album ‘Friends’. With ‘Friends’, White Lies haven’t so much abandoned their trademark synth-rock sound as given it a spring clean by exploring new sounds. For many reasons, it felt like a fresh start. The trio were temporarily without a label after a bout of record company reorganisation. Rather than re-sign straight away, they decided to start ‘Friends’ under their own steam without the pressure of a deadline or a budget, or even the guidance of a producer. Whatever sound each song suggested, White Lies went with it. Hence, when ‘Hold Back Your Love’ and ‘Is My Love Enough’ sparkled with disco grooves, they embraced it. When the beautiful ballad ‘Don’t Fall’ jettisoned their signature sound entirely, leaving only frontman Harry McVeigh’s sumptuous, sonorous vocals to connect it to White Lies of old, they stuck with it. Similarly, when the triumphant ‘Summer Didn’t Change A Thing’ harked back to the arena-ready rock of their debut, they didn’t mind. The changing nature of relationships is a recurring theme throughout the album. ‘Friends’ was recorded in Bryan Ferry’s private studio in London’s Olympia and was self-produced by the band. White Lies enlisted the help of an expert team including Grammy Award-winning engineer James Brown (Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys), David Wrench (Caribou, FKA twigs) on mixing duties and long-term collaborator Ed Buller who contributed additional production.

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Happyness – Tunnel Vision On Your Part

The harmony-packed single Anna, Lisa Calls appears here as the opener to Happyness’ Tunnel Vision On Your Part EP, with the band saying; “This is our first phone call song and our 5th song in E major. We wrote it one day in the studio in June and recorded it straight away – I think we were going for a kind of Traveling Wilburys thing. Also we felt like we hadn’t put a synth in a song for a while, so there’s a synth.” The EP, which also includes single SB’s Truck – a track penned by the band in homage to Samuel Beckett, who famously used to give the beloved, late, 80’s wrestler André The Giant lifts to school in his truck, owing to him being too large for his dad’s car – also provides a rare direct glimpse into the band’s influences as they offer their own interpretation of Club Gaga’s Friend Of The Revolution. Originally featuring on their Suburban Lake album, it’s a record that Happyness hold up as one of their favourites of all time, saying “Most (if not the whole) of the record is findable on YouTube. There were a few different songwriters in the band – but this one’s by the great Peter Fancher.”

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Lush – Lollapalooza Festival, Miami Fl August 22, 1992

Numbered Limited edition of 349 copies on White and Red splatter vinyl. Following the release of 1992’s Spooky, produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins fame, Lush brought their first wave shoegaze sound to the US for their second stateside tour, as part of the Lollapalooza tour, which that year included Red Hot Chili Peppers Ministry, Ice Cube, Soundgarden, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Pearl Jam

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Lou Reed – The RCA / Arista Albums Collection

A limited edition 12″x12″ deluxe box set library, Lou Reed – The RCA and Arista Album Collection is the ultimate tribute to an essential epoch in Lou Reed’s career as a transformative figure in American music. This definitive anthology contains 16 full-length albums on 17 compact discs in addition to an 80-page hard-bound book featuring memorabilia from Lou Reed’s personal archives, rarely seen photos and artwork, interviews with Lou conducted during his years as a recording artist for RCA and Arista and evocative in- depth liner notes – written by Lou’s longtime friend and the collection’s co- producer Hal Willner – chronicling Lou Reed’s involvement with the making of Lou Reed – The RCA and Arista Album Collection. The collectible deluxe box set also contains – suitable for framing – five 8″x10″ prints and a facsimile reproduction of a rare RCA promotional poster (598mm x 572mm, folds to 299mm x 286mm). The set includes

1. Lou Reed (April 1972)
2. Transformer (November 1972)
3. Berlin (July 1973)
4. Rock n Roll Animal (live – February 1974)
5. Sally Can’t Dance (August 1974)
6. Metal Machine Music (July 1975)
7. Coney Island Baby (December 1975)
8. Rock and Roll Heart (October 1976)
9. Street Hassle (February 1978)
10. Lou Reed Live Take No Prisoners (2 CDs – November 1978) 11. The Bells (April 1979)
12. Growing Up in Public (April 1980)
13. The Blue Mask (February 1982)
14. Legendary Hearts (March 1983)
15. New Sensations (April 1984)
16. Mistrial (June 1986

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I am looking forward to the release of the 17CD Lou Reed RCA & Arista Album Collection box set which is due next month, but what wasn’t mentioned when this was announced is that there will also be a vinyl box set edition issued in November…

The RCA & Arista Vinyl Collection, Vol 1 is a six-LP set, which features the newly remastered audio (created under Reed’s supervision, shortly before his death) of the following albums: Transformer (1972); Berlin (1973); Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal (1974); Coney Island Baby (1976); Street Hassle (1978) and The Blue Mask from 1982.

These are apparently 150g pressings and the package comes with a 30-page book. “Vol 1″ clearly suggests that another Lou Reed vinyl box may be delivered in the future.

The RCA & Arista Vinyl Collection, Vol 1 will be released on 18th November 2016.