Down By The Sea

Last Monday Drew posted a cover of The Velvet Underground’s Ocean, a version done by Sunray (played on and produced by Sonic Boom), thirteen minutes of drone rock bliss from 2007. It’s here. Back in 2014 there was an extensive remastering job on a lot of The Velvet’s material for the 45th anniversary of one of their albums. Ocean never saw the light of day when the band existed and eventually surfaced via Lou Reed’s 1972 solo album, the 1969 live album and 1985’s VU record. Here it is, in all it’s 1969 via 2014 glory.  Lou and Sterling’s guitars on Ocean are such a treat and the build up to the ending with the crashing drums and organ is superb.

Ocean 

Guess I’m Falling In Love

Today’s Velvets on Sunday song comes from the vaults of Verve Records, who dropped The Velvet Underground in 1969. The recordings for what could have been their next album were shelved until the mid 80s when the first bunch were released as VU and then a follow album Another VU. In among them were five John Cale-era songs, including this rough and ready, fuzzed up, garage band song with Cale on bass. There is a point in all guitar band’s lives when they should sound like this.

Guess I’m Falling In Love (Instrumental)

Anyone Who’s Ever Had A Dream

Another Velvet Underground on Sunday post today. In 1988 Toronto’s Cowboy Junkies rescued Sweet Jane from the countless butcherings it had received at the hands of the man who wrote it. Their album The Trinity Sessions was recorded in a church and somewhere in that building the people involved and the church’s natural echo and reverb summoned up something magical. Margo Timmins’ voice, her brother Michael’s guitar and the rest of the band, all gathered around a single mic, recast Sweet Jane in the mould of the 1969 Live version rather than the Loaded one, retrieving the earlier lyrics and the ‘Heavenly wine and roses/seem to whisper to me when you smile…’ section (some lyric sites have this line as ‘heavenly widened roses’ but I’ve always heard the former and that’s what I’m sticking with). Lou Reed later said that Cowboy Junkies had made his favourite version. Mine too.

Sweet Jane

Ain’t It Peculiar

A couple of years ago I got into the habit of posting songs by The Velvet Underground on a Sunday and having put last year’s ‘lost’ but recreated 1969 album on the turntable yesterday morning it seems like a wise thing to reprise. Also this picture of Sterling Morrison has been sitting on my hard drive waiting for an opportunity to be used. I can’t think of anything that would make this picture any better.

One Of These Days sounds like Buddy Holly after a night on amphetamines and booze, frazzled and fragile but still sharp enough to play. It first saw the light of day in 1985 on the VU compilation, a record that probably influenced most indie guitar bands in the subsequent few years more than any other. This 2014 mix tweaked the twangy guitars a little and added the extra 20 seconds at the end, a freakadelic collision of guitars.

One Of These Days (2014 Mix)

I’ve realised in the past decade that despite my love for John Cale during the early years of the Velvets, my favourite Velvets songs and period are the Doug Yule years. The much maligned Doug Yule who in 1972 Lou Reed wished dead. His contributions to the songs they recorded between 1968 and 1970, on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals, are as much part of the sound of the group as anybody else- and Lou Reed never sounded as good again.

I Wore My Teeth In My Hands So I Could Shake Hands With The Night

The Velvet Underground have been re-issued and anthologised and expanded all the place in recent years, boxed sets galore. I picked up a nice double album on vinyl recently called The Velvet Underground/1969, an attempt to put together the lp that didn’t come out in that year. Yeah, essentially it’s VU and Another VU in one edition but with some different mixes (the 2014 versions of some tracks) and other mixes of others. Disappointingly it doesn’t contain the more recent mix of I Can’t Stand It (with the 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 countdown by Lou after the guitar solo, which is exciting beyond words) but you can’t have everything.

Although most of the tracks (3 out of the 4 sides of vinyl) are the Doug Yule version of the group the 4th side has some recordings before John Cale packed up his viola and left. The final song on the album is this early version of Beginning To See The Light, recorded with Cale, which would later be recorded again with Yule for the self-titled album which did come out in 1969. Makes sense?

I love Lou’s lyrics on this song, aping gospel, sneering with NYC cool and in places brilliantly nonsensical. This version has different words, clearly a work in progress.  The title of this post became ‘I wore my teeth in my hands, so I could mess the hair of the night’ in the final mix. Both work for me.

Beginning To See The Light (Early Version)

Find Me In The Park

I missed this when it came out back in 2015, a standalone 7″ single from Michael Head and his Red Elastic Band. The b-side is a jazzy song about Koala Bears with an intelrude into Close To You. The a-side is a beaut, with a finger picked intro reminiscent of Everybody’s Talkin’, cello and Mick singing of the pleasures of listening to Lou, Sterling, John and Mo in the park, in the dark.

Velvets In The Dark

This live version was recorded in March 2016 at Islington Assembly Hall,  all reverb and atmosphere. It shimmers. If you want a physical copy  of the studio version Piccadilly Records seem to have some left.

Beautiful Dreamer

‘Beautiful Dreamer versus Darkseid! Both hold the key to victory in the strangest war ever fought in comicdom history!’

More early 70s Jack Kirby-Third Eye- Black Light psychedelic madness. The more of this Marvel art I look for, the more I find, the more I want to post. I was planning to finish yesterday but there’s more to come.

Two days ago reader KevM asked for The Box by Jack Of Swords, released on Weatherall’s Sabres Of Paradise label back in 1994. The Box is a cover of The Velvet Underground tune (from White Light/White Heat), a tale of sexual obsession and accidental death, voiced by John Cale (and it’s the original Cale vocal used on this cover too, a benefit of the being able to lift the whole isolated vocal off the Velvet’s record by switching the speakers balance to the left hand channel). The Jack Of Swords version has a heavy, electronic backing that is pretty transfixing. On the B-side of the 12″ single was a remixed version by Technova (David Harrow), a brilliant remix which adds a jackhammer beat, some speaker rattling bass and a load of acid-techno (the sort of record that makes me think I can smell dry ice and see strobes flashing in the corner of my eye).

The Box

The Box (The Black Angel’s Death Mix)