I wasn't much of a Lou Reed fan until around 1980, when my junkie punk rock roomate, King James, of The Bible Burners, for which I was the bass player, turned me onto the Velvet Underground. A few years prior, based wholly on Bowie covering "White Light/White Heat", I'd bought a crappy bargain bin cassette of highlights from the first two albums with a picture of Rock N Roll Animal Lou on the cover. With sound quality so poor that it only made the music seem even more inept.
King James loved any music famously fueled by heroin, as he found that validating.
He especially liked The Velvet's "couch" album, and the live version of "White Light" on the abysmally packaged "1969 Live". Soon I did too.
All good things must come to an end so when I moved out I needed to find replacements.
In 1982 it wasn't all that easy to find anything except that first "banana" album. Everything else was out of print. I was living in SoCal, and not even Tower Records, on Sunset, the overpriced last resort to find anything, came up short.
I called all the stores I knew and somewhere in my travels, probably Platypus Records in Pasadena, I found "Everything You Ever Heard About The................THE VELVET UNDERGROUND".
A three record boxed bootleg containing material that would eventually be released as "VU", and "Another VU".
And there was a disc devoted to Lou's work for Pickwick Records, where he was hired as a songwriter and defacto band leader to create cheap knockoff soundalikes of the current musical trends, to be packaged and sold in supermarkets under titles like "Soundsville", featuring bands like The Primitives, The All Night Workers, The Shades, The Beachnuts, The Jades, The Roughnecks, and MORE! All of it written and performed by Lou, some of his frat band buddies from Syracuse, and John Cale.
Notably included was "Do The Ostrich" (1965), a song concerning an imaginary dance craze with Lou on vocals and some guitar work soon to be a hallmark of the Velvets.
The need for a band to play this song at a middle school "Battle of the Bands" in New Jersey was the impetus for Lou and John to form The Velvet Underground.
Lou made sure he is regarded as a serious artist. These toungue and cheek knock-offs are hilarious in a way he's not so well known for. I don't think he wanted these re-released.
None of it is commercially available, and can only be found as fan bootlegs.
While I was thrilled with my big vinyl box set, the sound was pretty bad. The internet has made everything much easier to find. That said, finding documentation was not easy, and there are a few singers I had trouble identifying. Lou is easy to spot, though. And Nico sings "Strip Tease" and two more.
I found a lot of my info here, where you can see more covers and 45 labels:
Lou Reed A pre-VU discography
However cheesy this music is, I have never stopped enjoying it. It's like a really bad movie you can watch over and over. So how bad is it? I surely don't know. All I can say it is a lot of fun.
One look at the titles and you'll know what you're in for.
"Why Don't You Smile" is the first song known to have Lou and John as cowriters.
There are hints of later songs throughout.
My Name Is Lou
My Name Is Lou Too
I had some technical problems causing some songs to be mistitled. Sorry about that. The links have been fixed, and the missing artists added.