Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Velvet Underground?
I’ve been sneaking into my big sister’s room to check out her record collection for some time now, and I have begun to notice that her musical tastes might be changing. Where’s that coming from? I will explore that later – today, I found a record – an import, no less – that on first sight made my heart jump. But when I listened to it …
It’s Squeeze, which came out in 1972 as an album by the Velvet Underground. Wow! I thought, a lost Velvet Underground album … but no. The album is really a solo effort by bass player Doug Yule, who replaced John Cale in the Velvet Underground after Cale quit around 1969. Yule had a nice voice and a bit of a pop music sensibility to balance the experimental impulses of Lou Reed, who was more or less the Velvet Underground’s front man. Reed bolted from the group upon finishing Loaded in 1970, leaving drummer Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison as the only original members left. Morrison soon left, though, to pursue a degree then a professorship at the University of Texas.
So the group toured Europe with Yule, Tucker, and a couple of replacement dudes when the Velvets’ sleazeball manager scored the group a record deal with Polydor in Europe. To save money, Tucker and the replacements were sent back to the States (pretty much ending their membership in the Velvet Underground) and Yule wrote, sang and played all the songs on the album Squeeze along with drummer Ian Paice of Deep Purple and some other, anonymous studio players. The album was released in Europe and it was pretty much a flop; it never came out in the United States.
And it’s no wonder, when you start listening. Yule is certainly no Lou Reed, and his pop-music approach sweeps away all of Reed’s glorious dark explorations with songs that sound like rejects from Loaded (“Little Jack,” “Caroline”), songs that rip off the Beatles (“Crash”) or songs that try and fail miserably to replicate Lou Reed’s sound (“Mean Old Man,” “Dopey Joe”). So Squeeze is definitely not a Velvet Underground album – honestly, it’s a Doug Yule solo record and not a very good one, at that.