GET LOADED WITH THE VELVET UNDERGROUND'S LOST CLASSIC.
By Frank Smith
Between the release of The Velvet Underground's eponymous third album and the recording sessions for their final proper album, Loaded, the band entered numerous recording studios to try out new material for an album that would never be released.
These songs turned up on numerous bootlegs throughout the seventies and were finally compiled together haphazardly over the space of two rarities compilations in the eighties, VU and Another View, but the album itself has never been compiled together, except by big honking geeks.
Viewed separately, the songs function as further ballast for the argument that The Velvet Underground crafted rock songs that far surpassed anything on the radio, and really should have received far wider recognition in its time. Assembled together, the songs document an album that might've just done that if it had been released. But what's truly special about these songs, today, is that they exist, the album was not lost, and with enough free time on your hands -- you can create your very own "Lost" Velvet Underground album.
The Velvet 2 Rocket Path.
If traced on a graph, the trajectory of The Velvet Underground would resemble the flight path of the V-2 rocket.
While managed by pop artist Andy Warhol, the VU shot towards the sky only to level off and begin their descent once Lou Reed fired Warhol, and then struck the ground shortly after Lou Reed left the band.
The members of the Velvet Underground couldn't have been more disparate. John Cale (bass, viola, organ) studied classical music and composition with such avant-garde figures as John Cage and LaMont Young; whereas Lou Reed (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) dashed out songs for Pickwick Records, a songwriting company that made B-grade quality rock music to be sold on compilation albums at supermarkets. Conversely, Reed studied writing under the poet Delmore Schwartz. Held together with the soaring guitar work of Sterling Morrison and the pounding of Maureen Tucker's mallets, The Velvet Underground created a sound that would set the stage for hundreds of bands to follow from Rocket from the Tombs to Television to Sonic Youth and on and on.
After firing John Cale, Lou Reed replaced him with a fan of the VU named Doug Yule. Yule is perhaps the most maligned person in the history of the Velvet Underground. The style of their music changed almost immediately from feedback and distortion to driving polyrhythms and quiet sad, sad songs. The fact of the matter is that Doug Yule was able to fill in steadily and create his own niche; however the driving force of the first two VU albums was the creative tension between Lou Reed and John Cale. In their final years, the creative tension came entirely
from Lou Reed. The version of the VU that continued after Lou Reed's departure (and led by Doug Yule) is most definitely the cause of much scorn towards Yule.
What was once the prize of the downtown art/rock scene became a mediocre bar band playing at ski lodges.