Friday, August 3, 2018

Weekend Mix/Velvet Goldmine

Halloween night 1972 found me glued to KMET, waiting to hear this new guy, David Bowie, who I'd been reading about, broadcast from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. I taped it on the old SONY reel to reel my uncle gave me the previous Xmas.
I was an instant fan, riding my bike to K-Mart the next day to buy "Ziggy Stardust".
Through Bowie I became aware of Lou Reed.
Weeks later came "Transformer", produced by my new heroes, Dave and Mick.
The review consensus was pretty unanimous, "not as good as The Velvet Underground". And "good for Lou finally scoring a hit with "Walk On The Wild Side".

For awhile the only Velvets album in the racks was, "1969 Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed".

A double album released in 1974, long after the groups demise, in order to cash in on Lou's sudden fame, with an album cover so ugly it defies belief, and liner notes of utter gibberish by Elliott Murphy.

In 1976 I pulled out a cheap Italian "Best Of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground" cassette from a barrel of cut-outs. It misleadingly had The Rock N Roll Animal on the cover, but contained highlights from "And Nico", and "White Light/ White Heat".
I popped it in the player while exiting the parking lot.
The poor quality of the cassette did not enhance the over all Lo-Fi sound of those albums.
I fairly well hated it. "What is this shit?", I thought.

In 1980 I moved into a West LA apartment with a friend from Art Center. King James ambition was to be a rich junkie as soon as possible, and possibly just settling for junkie was good enough .
Starting with The New York Dolls, we liked a lot of the same music, and King James had good taste that seemed to consist entirely of junkies, especially Johnny Thunders, Iggy, Keith, and Lou Reed.

He worked at a friends record store in Torrance, and one day brought home both "1969 Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed", and "The Velvet Underground", aka "the Couch album". I skeptically threw "the Couch" on the turntable. It was not what I expected, but a stunning collection of wonderful songs rendered nicely in the studio. Intimate and vulnerable in a way not usually associated with Lou Reed.

That feeling carries over onto "1969 Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed", recorded during the following tour. We played those records to death, usually while snorting speed and drinking beer, and primping for The Whiskey, or Starwood. White Light/White Heat is about amphetamines after all.

We started a band, King James and The Bible Burners (my idea), and played a few Hollywood gigs.

I'm glad he never found a connection while we were room mates,  or I'm sure he would have tried to involve me, as he eventually did with the Bible Burners drummer.

So much trouble I'm not going into flowed under the bridge that I had to get out after 9 months. I haven't seen or heard from King James since 1983. He was eventually successful in acquiring a habit while living in his mother's house. I assume it went the way it goes.

In the early 2000s, I bought, used, both volumes of 1988's cd release of "1969 Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed" at NYCD. A little research revealed that the tapes are lost and much of the cd was mastered from vinyl lp's.

Released by their former label, Polygram, in 2015, "The Complete Matrix Tapes" consists of newly found and remastered original tapes made at The Matrix, in San Francisco, where, except three songs recorded a month earlier at The End Of Coles Avenue, in Austin, most of "1969 Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed" was recorded.

This mix began by attempting to recreate the original album with better sound. The double lp wouldn't fit on a single cd, so I edited, and found new material I liked better. The songs recorded at The End Of Cole, as mastered from vinyl, sound pretty bad next to the 2015 material. Except the Matrix "Pale Blue Eyes" is vastly inferior to that of Cole Avenue.  IMHO the best version of that song anywhere, hands down.
It's about Shelley, name checked in "I Can't Stand It", and muse for at least a few others.
A bittersweet portrait of their unsustainable affair.
They were college sweethearts, but she married a banker instead. You can hear a sadness in Lou's voice not evident at the Matrix a month later, where his singing is mannered, and a schtick by comparison.
I took some edge off the hiss, and gave it a bit more punch in an attempt to match the rest of the material.

Not only is this the best of the Velvet Undergound,  it's also the ACTUAL BEST of Lou Reed.
Lou never sang better or played guitar like this again.
This is where he earned his "Godfather of Punk" cred.
It's been said that all 100 or so people who originally bought "The Velvet Underground And Nico" went on to start a band.

Maybe Elliott was right.


Ladies Choice

Ladies Choice, too.



heartsofstone said...

Awesome - happy Friday indeed.

A walk in the woods said...

Wow - can't wait to check this out. Great write-up, too... you got to discover some of this stuff as it was happening! For me, it was always looking back later.

Of all the rockers who've passed in recent years, I'd say I miss Lou Reed and Prince the most. I think about them a lot.

Anonymous said...

Hadn't heard of any "End of Cole Avenue" being in Austin. Turns out it was in Dallas.,88697

Thanks for the great mix!

buzzbabyjesus said...

My Bad. I'll have to yell at my research department.

dogbreath said...

Sacrilegious perhaps, but I'm a long way (say a million miles or so) from being an avid fan of the Velvets or Lou Reed, knowing only the usual "hits", but I thought I'd give the mix a spin & I've been pleasantly rewarded from the opening minutes onwards. Thanks for the chance to give it a listen. Loved your backstory too and, at last, cover art I can view without the need for protective eye wear. Cheers!