How to Track Down the Lost Record.
The songs that fall under the banner of "The Lost Album" retain that yearning for commercial viability, but smack of the drugged out quest that the third, self-titled album, embarked upon. Had "What Goes On" or "I'm Beginning to See the Light" been Top 40 hits, "I Can't Stand It" and "Foggy Notion" could have been their B-sides, if not singles in their own right. Due to their inaccessibility and status as rarities, it's difficult not to relegate these songs to b-side status. But sequenced together in the shape of a proper album, these lost songs indicate the existence of an alternate world.
So how does one find it? It helps if you're already a VU geek and can easily sift through box sets and rarities compilations, but if not - it's still a relatively easy matter to put this thing together. Previously the songs only existed on difficult to find bootlegs and the sound quality was often abysmal. But after the release of VU
and Another View
and then the box set, Peel Slowly and See
, all of the proper ingredients were made available. And to clarify, neither VU or Another View made any pretense at assembling the "Lost" album, they merely collected together songs that had fallen off to the sides. They're excellent collections.
So what goes on the album? A track list and suggested sequencing can be found over at The Velvet Underground Web Page
. If you're a smarty-pants, you can arrange the songs according to how you think they flow best together, but the simplest route is to assemble them in the order in which they were recorded. However you choose to do it, it doesn't matter. The important thing is to have the experience of listening to this cluster of songs together, as they were intended to be.
And the material is strong. Really strong. On the surface, "Foggy Notion" is the closest the VU ever came to capturing their live sound in a recording studio. The song just drives on and on becoming more complex as it goes. If anything, "Foggy Notion" is a subtler version of "Heroin" in that it details the aftermath of a drug binge, but in the perspective of this guy who just got in trouble with his girlfriend for hitting her while she was nodding out, but he was trying to keep her awake and not to harm her. So now he's buying her flowers to make up for it. How's that for making rock music literary? It's like John Cheever for doped up bohemians.
Other songs like "I Can't Stand", "Real Good Time Together", "She's My Best Friend", "Andy's Chest" and "Lisa Says" would pop up throughout the first leg of Lou's solo career, and with the exception of the version of "Andy's Chest" on Transformer
each song lacked the drive of the Velvet Underground. "Lisa Says" would undergo a major rewrite before being included on Lou's first solo album, but the complete revision would take place during the VU's 1969 tour. So what does this all mean?
For all intents and purposes, the "Lost" album was the final official Velvet Underground collaboration. The recording sessions for Loaded were fraught with imputations and computations leaving most of the vocal duties to Doug Yule and the drumming to his brother, Billy Yule. Maureen Tucker was unable to make the sessions, as she was pregnant with her first child. She was also not present for their stay at Max's Kansas City. Maureen Tucker's drumming was instrumental in the creation of the VU's sound. Her kit was stripped apart with the bass drum facing upwards, and she played standing up beating mallets, keeping time, and producing a steady primitive sound. Billy Yule was a more than able drummer, but strictly vanilla in comparison.
The inclusion of "Rock and Roll" on the "Lost" album is reason enough to lament its obscurity. While the song would be revised for Loaded and updated during the seventies, this was the song where Lou documented his love of rock music, and while the "Lost" version doesn't have the same urgency as the version on Loaded, it has the charm of a priceless classic tucked away with other priceless obscurities. It indicates not only what might have been, but also proves the tenacity of the Velvet Underground in a time when no one outside of their prescribed circle was listening anymore, but they knew they were too important to be lost, and it was alright.