Archive for Velvet Underground

Video Du Jour: John Cale

Posted in News with tags , on September 5, 2012 by 30daysout

John Cale, former member of the Velvet Underground and producer of punk pioneers The Stooges, has a new solo album coming out. Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, coming out Oct. 1, features “Face To The Sky” and the accompanying strange video.

John Cale official web site

Back to Black: The Magic of Mono

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , on April 12, 2012 by 30daysout

As I sit down to write this on a bleary-eyed early morning, I can hear the coffee maker click on automatically. My phone dings insistently to remind me of meetings, appointments and upcoming annoyances, then it offers up a morning tweet for dessert. In my pocket I there’s a little flash drive smaller than my thumb, carrying about 35 albums’ worth of music with a little room for more.

Technology has surely wiped some of the romance out of modern life; what did you expect? Old guys like me quickly get tiresome in referencing the past to recall the many ways that life was better – yeah, guilty as charged.

Thankfully, at my house there’s an easy way to shut up the old guy: slap some vinyl on the turntable, and crank it. With the resurgence of vinyl records we’ve all rediscovered our roots, and we are “remembering” our past, meaning: if we knew this at all, surely we forgot. Frankly, I forgot about mono.

Back in the day, record companies put out music in monophonic – as opposed to stereo – because they wanted their hit singles to sound good on AM radio and on the crappy sound systems that lived in most homes. Stereo was kind of an afterthought, and often you could hear stuff on the mono (meaning: “original version”) that didn’t show up on the stereo versions. Or so we’re told today.

When LPs nearly died and CDs came along, old music got remixed, remastered and repackaged. The resurgence of vinyl provided another opportunity to hear (and buy) the same old stuff once more and then we have the mono versions. I don’t know how many versions of Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited I want, but I certainly have more than I need. Mono is the aural version of watching a black-and-white movie: experiencing the past while not quite reliving it. Know what I mean? (I think I don’t.)

Hell, I didn’t know the Beatles did their albums in mono. I was just a kid when the Beatles were a real thing, and besides, I didn’t buy albums – just 45 singles. I knew about Brian Wilson’s famous deafness in one ear, and that’s why he did many of his masterpieces in mono; but I learned that only after I had gotten older.

So here we are, a decade deep into the 21st century, and we’re still spinning mono records on turntables. You gotta admit, that stuff sounds GOOD.

MP3: “Mr. Soul” (45 single) by Buffalo Springfield

MP3: “Run Through The Jungle” (45 single) by Creedence Clearwater Revival

MP3: “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (mono remaster) by Simon & Garfunkel

MP3: “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (45 single) by the Velvet Underground

MP3: “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (mono remaster) by the Beatles

MP3: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (45 single) by the Rolling Stones

MP3: “Help Me Rhonda” (mono album version) by the Beach Boys

Record Store Day official website

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Velvet Underground?

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2010 by 30daysout

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.

MP3: “Little Jack”

MP3: “Caroline”

MP3: “Crash”

MP3: “Mean Old Man”

MP3: “She’ll Make You Cry”

MP3: “Louise”

Rock Star Sighting: Sterling Morrison, Velvet Underground

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 30, 2008 by 30daysout

I used play in a band called The Surrealtors. Back in 1990, we had a semi-regular gig at a Houston taqueria called “La Jaliscience” in the Montrose-area of town. We called this place “the wall of cheese.” Put it this way, if you ate there late at night, not only would you not be able to sleep, you would probably spend much of the next day in, lets say, severe discomfort calling out for Mommy. 

Anyway, The Surrealtors used to play stupid covers. “Come on Get Happy” (yes, the Partridge Family song), YMCA, at times, it was brutal. However, we did do some pretty good tunes every now and then like “Can’t Get it Out of My Head” by ELO. One night we were coming to the end of another long night when this tall guy with food hanging out of his mouth said “Man, you guys really nailed that ELO song.” “Thanks,” I said. “Would you like to be on our mailing list?” He said “Sure, my name is Sterling Morrison.”

All three of us looked at each other like “that name sounds familiar, but where have I heard it?” Once we figured he was one of the founding members of the Velvet Underground, he was gone. He was working as a tug boat captain in Houston and why he picked that place to eat, I’ll never know. He never did come to a gig, but it was cool to have someone of his stature say “we nailed” something. You just never know who is watching.

MP3: “All Tomorrow’s Parties” by the Velvet Underground & Nico

MP3: “I’m Waiting For The Man” by the Velvet Underground

Sterling Morrison Tribute Page

YouTube: “Sweet Jane”  by the Velvet Underground