Mar072018| March 7, 2018
Written after he quit the Velvet Underground.
In 1970, a 28-year-old Lou Reed left the Velvet Underground and moved back to his hometown in Long Island to write poetry.
Read more: 50 years on: The Velvet Underground & Nico
A new book from Anthology Editions explores Reed’s creative output from this period.
Do Angels Need Haircuts? features his poetry alongside photographs and “ephemera from this era, including previously unreleased audio of the 1971 St. Mark’s Church reading”.
The book also includes a forward by Anne Waldman with an afterword by Laurie Anderson.
Do Angles Need Haircuts? is published April 2018 by Anthology Editions, head here for more info.
Dec202017| December 20, 2017
Featuring their “lost” 1969 album.
To celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary, Velvet Underground are releasing a new special edition vinyl box set, this February via Verve Records/UMe.
Read more: 50 years on: The Velvet Underground and Nico
The Velvet Underground includes six albums: VU’s four studio LPs, their “lost” 1969 album recreated as a 2xLP, and Nico’s Chelsea Girl LP.
Limited to 1000 copies worldwide, it also features an exclusive 48-page booklet with vintage photos, lyrics and a forward by VU drummer Maureen Tucker.
Earlier this year, director Todd Haynes announced he was working on a new documentary about the band, due out in 2018.
Pre-order the box set here ahead of its 23rd February release, listen to ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ and check out the track lists below.
The Velvet Underground and Nico
1. Sunday Morning
2. I’m Waiting For The Man
3. Femma Fatale
4. Venus in Furs
5. Run Run Run
6. All Tomorrow’s Parties
2. There She Goes Again
3. I’ll Be Your Mirror
4. The Black Angel’s Death Song
5. European Son
White Light / White Heat
1. White Light / White Heat
2. The Gift
3. Lady Godiva’s Operation
4. There She Comes Now
1. I Heard Her Call My Name
2. Sister Ray
The Velvet Underground
1. Candy Says
2. What Goes On
3. Some Kinda Love
4. Pale Blue Eyes
1. Beginning To See The Light
2. I’m Set Free
3. That’s The Story Of My Life
4. The Murder Mystery
5. After Hours
1969 (recorded May – October 1969)
1. Foggy Notion (original 1969 mix)
2. One of These Days (2014 mix)
3. Lisa Says (2014 mix)
4. I’m Sticking With You (original 1969 mix)
5. Andy’s Chest (original 1969 mix)
1. I Can’t Stand It (2014 mix)
2. She’s My Best Friend (original 1969 mix)
3. We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together (2014 mix)
4. I’m Gonna Move Right In (original 1969 mix)
5. Ferryboat Bill (original 1969)
1. Coney Island Steeplechase (2014 mix)
2. Ocean (original 1969 mix)
3. Rock & Roll (original 1969 mix)
4. Ride Into The Sun (2014 mix)
Side Four (Bonus tracks)
1. Hey Mr. Rain (version one)
2. Guess I’m Falling In Love (instrumental version)
3. Temptation Inside Your Heart (original mix)
4. Stephanie Says (original mix)
5. Hey Mr. Rain (version two)
6. Beginning To See The Light (early version)
1. Who Loves The Sun
2. Rock & Roll
3. Sweet Jane
4. Cool It Down
5. New Age
1. Head Held High
2. Lonesome Cowboy Bill
3. I Found A Reason
4. Train Round The Bend
5. Oh! Sweet Nutin’
Nico: Chelsea Girl
1. The Fairest Of The Seasons
2. These Days
3. Little Sister
4. Winter Song
5. It Was A Pleasure Then
1. Chelsea Girls
2. I’ll Keep It With Mine
3. Somewhere There’s A Feather
4. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
5. Eulogy to Lenny Bruce
Aug072017| August 7, 2017
Including archival footage, Andy Warhol films and interviews.
Director Todd Haynes has announced that he’s working on a new film about the Velvet Underground.
Read more: 50 years on: The Velvet Underground and Nico
“They’re the most influential of bands – as Brian Eno said, everybody who bought (Velvet Underground & Nico) started a band” said Haynes to Variety at the Locarno Film Festival.
The director also shared that the film will “rely on Warhol films but also a rich culture of experimental film, a vernacular we have lost and we don’t have, (and that) we increasingly get further removed from,” and will include interviews with the band’s remaining members.
Though this marks his first music documentary, Haynes is no stranger to music biopics. One of his first films he made while still in university was Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, a 1987 short about Karen Carpenter’s life that has since become a much bootlegged cult favourite after a music licensing lawsuit stopped it from being publicly distributed.
Alongside his work as a pioneering filmmaker of the New Queer Cinema movement, Haynes has continued to release films related to music like Velvet Goldmine, a fictional journey to hunt down a lost glam rock icon, and I’m Not There which explored the life of Bob Dylan through the lens of six fictional characters.
The director is also working on a project about jazz singer Peggy Lee, starring Reese Witherspoon, due to be released in 2018.
Mar132017| March 13, 2017
He owns 800 copies of the classic album.
Released fifty years ago yesterday, The Velvet Underground and Nico is arguably the most influential rock album of all time.
To celebrates the milestone, NPR has tracked down the world’s most obsessive Velvets collector, a man named Mark Satlof, who owns over 800 original pressings of the album. His collection, organised meticulously in his study, represents approximately 1% of all copies made in the U.S. before March 1969.
The stash includes a shrink wrapped first mono pressing, promo copies including the rare white-label edition, the ‘Close Cut’ 1972 edition with an alternative printing of the banana as well as the original U.K., Canadian and New Zealand editions that without a banana on the cover.
He is, however, missing the rarest of the bunch: an April 1966 acetate of which only two copies are known to exist. For a complete breakdown of all known editions, see here.
“Yes, it’s obsessive,” he tells NPR. “But — and I say this as someone without an art-history background — in a way each one of these is a piece of Warhol art. And each one has been messed with in some way by a previous owner, which makes each one unique.”
Photo by Christopher Gregory for NPR
Feb032016| February 3, 2016
That John Cale’s discography outside of his work with the Velvet Underground starts and ends with Paris 1919 is indeed a most impoverished viewpoint. Right up there is 1982’s oft overlooked Music For A New Society, which catches Cale on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
With the item back in print on vinyl, along with a visceral new re-working album M: FANS, Martin Aston revisits Cale at his most anguished and fractured.
Words: Martin Aston
John Cale was recently asked what inspired him to keep going after the best part of half a century of recording and touring: “Finding new ways to do things,” he replied, adding, “It’s a quest that keeps you hungry.”
If keeping the brain activated is the path to a long life, then perhaps Cale might live to see out a century of making music. Is there another musician, let alone one who celebrates his 74th birthday next month, who’s in his studio every day when not on tour, writing? (He’s already got 27 songs stockpiled for his next album).
On tour, in 2015 alone, Cale kept advancing: he premiered Signal To Noise (“an experimental exploration of durational audio-visual movements”, apparently) and a six-hour performance for New York’s Whitney Museum of Art inspired by Andy Warhol’s Empire film, whilst making room for his continuing Nico tribute show Life Along The Borderline and performances of his own 1973 album Paris 1919. And when it came to re-mastering another of his solo albums, 1982’s long-out-of-print Music For A New Society, Cale conceived an entirely new version, christened M:FANS, as his reaction to the causes of the original, as if he is remixing his own brain.
Released this last month as separate vinyl packages or as one conjoined CD, Music For A New Society and M:FANS are two distinct chapters in a restless quest that’s proved even more prolific, enterprising and risk-taking than David Bowie’s. Setting aside M:FANS for now, Music For A New Society is a very strong contender for the most fascinating and compelling record of Cale’s solo years: the restless questing artist on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
After studying music in London and New York through the early ’60s, Cale’s initial recordings took a drier, cerebral approach with avant-garde experiments in minimalist form before taking an entirely new direction when Cale met Lou Reed and they formed The Velvet Underground. Post-Velvets, Cale had – ironically, given Reed supposedly fired him for persisting with outlandish ideas – turned to a dreamy, melancholic brand of singer-songwriting (1971’s Vintage Violence and the orchestrated Paris 1919), then gone for the option marked ‘Dirtyass Rock’n’Roll’ – to use one songtitle from that era – and after producing Patti Smith’s Horses, continued with a mixture of careering garage-rock and gaunt ballads. By 1980, he’d acquired a nasty cocaine habit, had no clue how he could sell records, or where to go next.
Music For A New Society had a fraught birth, to say the least. With Cale having folded his Spy label imprint into Michael Zilkha’s Ze Records, and retired his band for a run of solo concerts, Zilkha proposed an album to capture this new phase. Rising to the challenge – “a very good one” Cale thought – he created an unusual brief for the exercise; to only allow ten days in the studio, and only set the tape rolling when he was ready to improvise.
Was Cale nuts? If he’d wanted to sell records, this wasn’t the solution. The result was both exquisite and unhinged, with random episodes where Cale audibly unravels, like the madman in the attic, putting him in the same place as Lou Reed’s Berlin or Big Star’s Third. Cale once recalled the recording process as “like method acting. Madness. Excruciating. I just let myself go. It became a kind of therapy, a personal exorcism.” But that fed into the album’s extreme qualities; its nerve-shredding raw intimacy, its fractured, anguished beauty.
“I can’t get away from the fact it’s a very personal album – it was just chaotic and unresolved,” Cale says today. “My motivation at the time was to refocus my life on stuff other than what was going on – to turn what’s going on right now into something of value later on – which is a big part of why I wanted to present the album in the different way, as M: FANS. I also wanted to be able to listen to the songs again, because I can’t easily go back to the original. A lot of aggro and despair went into that record, and I recognise every gargoyle as they come along – but they made the album at the time.”
Music For A New Society features one rock arrangement, the lurching ‘Changes Made’, and one strange ambient treatment, ‘Rise, Sam And Rimsky Korsakov’, but the crux of the album is its piano ballads, naked and wired, such as ‘Taking Your Life In Your Hands’, ‘Broken Bird’, ‘Chinese Envoy’ (lyrically, …New Society is as much mystery as confession) and a re-recording of one of his most magisterial old songs, ‘Close Watch’. And then there was the lengthy, wayward, crazed ‘Sanctus’, titled ‘Sanities’ when the album was first released because the studio engineer felt that Cale sounded in danger of losing his.
Thirty-three years since …New Society was released, this is no ‘landmark’ anniversary, so why now? The impetus was a request in 2014 from Denmark’s Aarhus Festuge festival to play Music For A New Society live. How could the most naked of Cale’s albums translate in a festival context?
“We’d already been discussing how to reissue the album, to digitise it and get the process rolling,” Cale recalls, “and all these new ideas popped up. Looking back to the emotions of the old record, which were dark and draconian, it was gentle one minute and hard the next, and then frightening… So do you present that exactly as the original? No; you do it as a concert and you try to tell a story, which gives you a glimpse into my life at the time.”
So Cale set about re-imagining it with his current live band, and with his ongoing fascination with digital music – from electronica to hip-hop – came up with M: FANS, which crackles with louder, fleshed out and rhythmically heavier frequencies, while sometimes sampling the original, giving Cale the opportunity for closure on one of the most testing eras of his life. This included his response to Lou Reed’s death toward the end of 2014, which Cale was able to convey through the new version of ‘If You Were Still Around’, for which Cale released a music video on the first anniversary of Reed’s passing. “The song fitted perfectly to Lou, on a relationship that was really scattered and ill-defined,” Cale reflects.
Some fans will baulk at the changes Cale made, turning some ruined ballads into charged, modern pop, as if it’s sacrilege on his part. For example ‘Close Watch’, is now a spectral trance-duet with Amber Kaufman of The Dirty Projectors (Cale enthuses about her “amazing ability to replicate microtonal shifts”) while ‘Chinese Envoy’ is even more radical, a borderline-pop song, “a happier song the way it is now,” Cale reckons. “But it doesn’t offend the sensibility of the song. I think the tracks have benefitted from being given more attention this time. The rawness and immediacy that comes from making mistakes, as I did, and the struggle to get words out – that goes away when you do it again, so you need something else.”
It will be interesting to see what Cale comes up with when he embarks on the very first live performance of The Velvet Underground And Nico debut album, to mark the 50th anniversary of its recording (it was the band’s label, Verve, that held it up until 1967). Will it be a faithful reproduction or adventurous reconstruction? Cale’s not saying. But given how Music For A New Society and its equally radical twin have turned out, no one can predict anything, except that it will be fascinating, compelling, and emotional. With Bowie’s demise, and Reed gone too, we urgently need Cale to keep questing, to stay hungry, to keep finding new ways to do things.
Cover image courtesy of Cale Archives
Oct102014| October 10, 2014
Originally posted on FACT.
A collection of live recordings from the late singer will be available on vinyl for the first time.
Nico’s The End…, originally released in 1974, was produced by The Velvet Underground’s John Cale and features synth work from Brian Eno. The album originally consisted of six Nico-penned tunes plus covers of The Doors’ ‘The End’ and the German national anthem.
The 40th anniversary edition has been expanded to a double-LP, containing alternate versions of album tracks as well as additional recordings from radio sessions and TV performances. This is the first time that these alternate versions have been available to purchase on wax.
The 40th anniversary edition of The End… will be out on November 11 through Music on Vinyl. Check the full tracklist below.
A1. It Has Not Taken Long
A2. Secret Side
A3. You Forget To Answer
A4. Innocent and Vain
A5. Valley of the Kings
B1. We’ve Got the Gold
B2. The End
B3. Das Lied Der Deutschen
C1. Secret Side (John Peel Session 20th February 1971)
C2. We’ve Got the Gold (John Peel Session – 3rd December 1974)
C3. Janitor of Lunacy (John Peel Session – 3rd December 1974)
C4. You Forget to Answer (John Peel Session – 3rd December 1974)
C5. The End (John Peel Session – 3rd December 1974)
D1. Secret Side (Old Grey Whistle Test – 7th February 1975)
D2. Valley of the Kings (Old Grey Whistle Test – 7th February 1975)
D3. Das Lied Der Deutschen (June 1st 1974)
D4. The End (June 1st 1974)
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