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Lou Reed and John Cale seize control of WPIX radio in NYC, 1979
09:02 am


Lou Reed
John Cale

Photo by Kate Simon.
One chilly day in January 1979, Lou Reed and John Cale visited the music station WPIX in New York City, Reed to serve as “guest disk jockey” for a stretch or so and Cale to play some songs from his live repertoire. Reed had released his live album Take No Prisoners a couple of months earlier. Cale hadn’t released a studio album since 1975, with only the compilation Guts in between, and his live album Sabotage/Live wouldn’t come out until the end of the year.

Reed arrives at the studio first and has the air to himself for a little while before Cale shows up to play his songs. It isn’t accurate to say that Reed is in a bad mood—he’s perfectly jovial and praises WPIX fulsomely—but he is simply taking no shit, very opinionated about all manner of subject, and boy, does he not like music critics, particularly Robert Christgau and John Rockwell, two prominent New York critics.

Reed fans will recall that on the very, very rambling version of “Walk on the Wild Side” found on Take No Prisoners, recorded eight months earlier, Reed complains about—guess who—Rockwell and Christgau: “Imagine working for a fuckin’ year and you got a B+ from an asshole in the Village Voice?” grouses Reed on that album. On WPIX that day, Reed is still pissed off about the music press. “It’s very sick, perverse world in the land of journalism,” he says, and later gripes about receiving a C- from Christgau (who never actually gave any Reed album a score that low but whatevs). 

Later on Reed says, “A bad review from Rolling Stone is proof to me that I’m still alive.”

During the show Reed actually takes calls from listeners—and seems to enjoy it quite a bit. There’s a great moment early on when a caller accidentally says the word “shit” and Lou has to set him straight.

Towards the end John Cale arrives and plays three songs. First up is “Jack The Ripper at the Moulin Rouge,” which was supposed to be released as a single in 1978 but never was; you can find it on Seducing Down the Door. Then Cale plays “Evidence,” best known from Sabotage/Live, and “Leaving It Up To You,” off of Helen of Troy.
Listen after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Lou Reed and John Cale’s soundtrack to Andy Warhol’s ‘Hedy,’ 1966

Andy Warhol and Mario Montez filming Hedy (via Continuo)
On the night of January 27, 1966, the actress Hedy Lamarr was arrested for stealing $86 worth of merchandise from the May Company department store in Los Angeles. She was not driven to crime by a condition of need: police told reporters she had $14,000 in checks when she was arrested.

Andy Warhol and screenwriter Ronald Tavel knew a good story when they saw one, and Hedy (1966)—with Lupe and More Milk, Yvette, part of the “Hollywood trilogy” about movie actresses Warhol made that year—advanced down the Factory’s film production line. The lovely Mario Montez starred in the title role, while on the soundtrack, Lou Reed and John Cale dramatized Hedy’s inner life with an ominous, bottomless noise.

via Toronto International Film Festival
Richie Unterberger’s authoritative White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day by Day files the Hedy soundtrack under February 1966:

Only Lou Reed and John Cale are heard on the soundtrack to Hedy, a Warhol film inspired by press reports of the arrest for shoplifting of 30s and 40s actor Hedy Lamarr. None of the Velvets appear in the film, but the cast does include the two most celebrated dancers of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable – Gerard Malanga and Factory newcomer Mary Woronov – as well as another EPI dancer, Ingrid Superstar, and Cale’s old friend Jack Smith.

The Hedy score is closer in spirit to the avant-garde recordings Cale and Angus MacLise appeared on during 1963-1965 than anything The Velvet Underground are currently playing. The music builds around an instrumental storm of shrieking, rumbling viola, guitar, and a rickety piano that sounds like it hasn’t been played since doing time in a 19th century saloon, while Cale’s ‘thunder machine’ – the sound made by the head of a Vox Super Beatle amp being dropped on the floor – occasionally cuts through everything else with hair-raising, high pitch bursts of feedback. This might be the closest approximation of how the nascent Velvet Underground sounded when they played, with Angus MacLise, behind the screen at Piero Heliczer’s ‘happenings,’ but those days are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Hear ‘Hedy’ after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
John Cale will perform ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ live in New York and Liverpool
12:16 pm


Velvet Underground
John Cale

Velvet Underground bassist/violaist John Cale performed a moody, arty solo take on his band’s already moody and arty debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, last spring in Paris. That epochal album will turn 50 this coming spring, and Cale will celebrate by performing it again, on May 26 at Liverpool, England’s docklands, and in New York City on a date/venue yet to be announced. Quoted in The Quietus, Cale offered:

I’m often reluctant to spend too much time on things past, then a time marker shows up — The Velvet Underground & Nico turns 50. As so many bands can attest to, it is the fulfilment of the ultimate dream to record your first album. We were an unfriendly brand, dabbling in a world of challenging lyrics and weird sonics that didn’t fit into anyone’s playlist at the time.

Remaining ferociously true to our viewpoints, Lou and I never doubted for a moment we could create something to give a voice to things not regularly explored in rock music at the time. That bizarre combination of four distinctly disparate musicians and a reluctant beauty queen perfectly summed up what it meant to be The Velvet Underground.

Tickets for the Liverpool show will go on sale Friday, October 28. For a taste of what to expect, here are a few of clips from the Paris show last spring, including Saul Williams guesting on “Heroin,” Mark Lanegan singing “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and Lou Doillon singing “Femme Fatale.” Hopefully that all happens again at the New York show.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Lou Reed peels off wild guitar solos during first Velvet Underground gig without John Cale, 1968
09:18 am


Lou Reed
John Cale
The Velvet Underground

La Cave
By September 1968, Lou Reed was hell-bent on kicking John Cale out of the Velvet Underground. Reed and Cale started the band, but after two albums, Lou was no longer interested in working with the Welsh musician. It’s always been unclear as to why Reed felt this way, but the most plausible reason is that he sought to make the Velvets more accessible, while Cale wanted to keep one foot in the avant-garde. Regardless, in late September, after what would turn out to be Cale’s final concerts with the group, Reed met with drummer Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison and gave them an ultimatum: Either Cale goes or the band is finished.
John Cale and Lou Reed
John Cale and Lou Reed in New York City, 1968

Reluctantly, Tucker and Morrison agreed to sack Cale. But with Cale’s exit and upcoming concerts scheduled for the first week of October, a replacement needed to be found—and fast. Doug Yule, a Boston musician who was friendly with the band, was quickly brought into the fold. Yule would have to swiftly learn a set of songs, many of which he hadn’t heard before because they hadn’t been released yet. He made his way to New York City to rehearse for shows booked at a small venue in Cleveland called La Cave. Yule’s first gig with the Velvets is usually cited as having taken place on October 2nd, though in his exhaustive book, White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day, author Richie Unterberger writes that Yule’s debut was October 4th. Either way, the band’s new member had little time to prepare.
The new VU
The new VU, 1968

The Velvet Underground played two sets that first night in Cleveland with Yule, and thanks to recordings which were subsequently bootlegged, we can hear what they sounded like during this historic show. Incredibly, Yule already appears to be a good fit. He’s obviously up for the task, coming up with interesting bass lines—even singing background harmonies—on songs that he had just learned. His harmony vocal gelling perfectly with Reed’s during a lovely version of “Jesus” is just one of many cool moments. Reed’s guitar work is also noteworthy, like during the wild and weird middle section of “I Can’t Stand It,” but it’s the track that opens the first set that takes the cake.

“What Goes On” was one of many numbers played that first night that Yule barely had time to acquaint himself with (the tune would be included on their next album, The Velvet Underground, which came out the following year). There’s nothing all that interesting happening here at first (though Yule once again contributes some mighty fine harmonizing); that is, until Reed kicks off the initial solo with a fierce blast of noise. He follows up with melodic lines that resemble what would be heard on the now-familiar album take, but while the guitar tone on the LP version is psychedelic, here it’s all about volume and distortion. During the second and final solo, after a similar melodic passage, Lou lets it rip. At around the 4:52 mark, he goes into hyperactive overdrive, whipping up an atypically riotous, face melter of a solo that’s downright giddy in execution. It’s the sound of a man set free.
Lou Reed
This joyfully savage version of “What Goes On” would appear decades later on Peel Slowly and See, VU’s 1995 boxed set, and to date it’s the only track from the Cleveland concerts to be officially released. In his liner notes for the box, David Fricke is suitably inspired by the rendition, writing that it’s “rich with pyro-fuzzbox spew and climaxes with a staccato rush of tonal destruction over Sterling Morrison’s implacable, syncopated rhythm clang.”
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico have a Velvet Underground reunion on French TV, 1972
05:25 pm


Velvet Underground
John Cale
Lour Reed

Although I’ve posted about this show in the past, there was never a full version of it on YouTube in decent quality that I could embed, just bits and bobs, but this morning, looking for something else entirely I came across it and wanted to share on the blog. In 1972, Velvet Underground alumni Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico reunited before the cameras of the POP 2 TV program at Le Bataclan, a well-known—and very intimate—Parisian music venue. It was Cale’s gig originally and he invited Reed and Nico to join him. Reed, who hated rehearsing, spent two days with Cale working out what they were going to do. According to Victor Bockris’ Reed biography Transformer, rock critic Richard Robinson videotaped these rehearsals, which took place in London.

Both the TV broadcast and just the audio from the show and the soundcheck have been heavily bootlegged over the decades. A legit CD release happened a few years ago, but it still sounds like a bootleg. A high quality video turned up on various torrent trackers and bootleg blogs after a rebroadcast on French TV a few years back. It’s fairly easy to find. Now if only some of the outtakes from the Le Bataclan filming would slip out—they did “Black Angel’s Death Song” that night which I’d dearly love to see—not to mention what Richard Robinson is alleged to have!

This is Reed coming off his first solo record and just a few months before he recorded “Walk on the Wild Side” with David Bowie and Mick Ronson and took on a totally different public—and we can presume, private—persona. This is “Long Island Lou” seen just before Reed’s druggy bisexual alter-ego showed up. Cale is heard doing “Ghost Story” from his Vintage Violence album and Nico looks stunning and happy here singing “Femme Fatale.” It’s before the damage of her drug addiction took its toll on her looks.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Nick Cave, Chrissie Hynde & John Cale playing together on the BBC, 1999
10:04 am


Nick Cave
John Cale
Chrissie Hynde

The songwriters’ circle is very nearly as straightforward and intimate as an evening’s entertainment can get—a handful of musicians take turns discussing and performing their songs, one at a time, almost invariably acoustically, in a round-robin. The long-running BBC program Songwriters Circle is a straightforward take on the concept, but the participants are big names, and the show adds a tantalizing dash of collaborative elements. So when, in September of 1999, the show featured John Cale, Chrissie Hynde and Nick Cave, they were all in superb form, and it was full of fine performances. (When the show went badly, it could be pretty amazing too; Ryan Adams acting like a sullen tween on the episode he shared with Janis Ian and an increasingly frustrated Neil Finn is pretty legendary.)

Cale’s contributions drew largely from his 1974 album Fear, though “Dying on the Vine” from 1985’s Artificial Intelligence gets a lovely treatment here, as does “Ship of Fools,” on which Hynde and Cave accompany him. Hynde, for her part, also leans heavily on classics, with a guitar assist from the Katydids’ Adam Seymour, himself a latter-day Pretenders member. The newest song she performs is her 1996 ballad “I’ll Stand by You,” which became better known later for a cloying pop-country makeover by an American Idol winner. Cave jumped around his ‘90s catalog, performing “Henry Lee” from Murder Ballads, “The Ship Song” from The Good Son, and two songs from The Boatmans Call. It’s interesting to note that NONE of the three artists participating had new albums to hawk at the time of this broadcast. I wonder what the show’s curatorial criteria are—I have trouble imagining an American television show spending an hour with three musicians who have no new product. The program ends with all of them doing the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man.”

You can watch the entire broadcast here. I’ve indexed it for you so you can skip around if that’s your thing. The times mark the beginnings of the introductions, not the songs.

00:00 Ship Of Fools (Cale, rehearsal footage)
01:07 Thoughtless Kind (Cale)
03:33 Talk of The Town (Hynde)
07:21 West Country Girl (Cave)
09:31 Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend (Cale)
14:05 Kid (Hynde)
17:45 Henry Lee (Cave)
21:14 Dying On The Vine (Cale)
25:19 I’ll Stand By You (Hynde)
29:44 Into My Arms (Cave)
34:30 Ship Of Fools (Cale)
39:33 Back on the Chain Gang (Hynde)
43:32 The Ship Song (Cave)
46:54 I’m Waiting For The Man

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Lou Reed, Nico and John Cale do Velvet Underground mini-reunion on French TV, 1972
04:49 pm


Lou Reed
Velvet Underground
John Cale

In 1972, Velvet Underground alumni Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico reunited before the cameras of the POP2 TV program at Le Bataclan, a well-known—and very intimate—Paris venue. It was Cale’s gig originally and he invited Reed and Nico to join him. Reed, who hated rehearsing, spent two days with Cale working out what they were going to do. According to Victor Bockris’ Lou Reed biography Transformer, rock critic Richard Robinson videotaped these rehearsals, which took place in London.

Both the videotape and the audio from this show have been heavily bootlegged over the years. A legit CD release happened a few years ago, but it still sounds like a bootleg. A high quality video turned up on various torrent trackers and bootleg blogs after a rebroadcast on French TV. It’s fairly easy to find. Now if only some of the outtakes from the Le Bataclan filming (if there were any) would slip out—they did “Black Angel’s Death Song” which I’d dearly love to see—not to mention what Richard Robinson might have (There is an audio only recording of the rehearsals attributed to Robinson’s tapes already making the rounds on bootleg torrent trackers.)

This is Reed coming off his first solo record (which had not even been released yet) and just a few months before he recorded “Walk on the Wild Side” with David Bowie and took on a totally different public—and we can presume, private—persona. This is “Long Island Lou” last seen just before Reed’s druggy bisexual alter-ego showed up and took his place. Cale does the lush “Ghost Story” from his then new Vintage Violence album and Nico looks stunning and happy here singing “Femme Fatale.” It’s before the damage of her drug addiction took its toll on her looks.

I will direct you here for the full version, but I can’t embed the file.

One thing worth pointing out here is that during “Berlin” you can see Nico’s face as Reed sings a song which he told her was about her. She might even be hearing it for the first time.

Here’s a version (oddly in color, the only one on YouTube, the rest are all B&W) of Reed and Cale performing a languid, stoned and thoroughly unplugged “I’m Waiting For The Man”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Songs for Drella’: Lou Reed and John Cale pay tribute to Andy Warhol, live 1989
03:18 pm


Andy Warhol
Lou Reed
John Cale

When Lou Reed and John Cale’s collaborative tribute to Andy Warhol, Songs for Drella, came out in 1990, I didn’t love it. I didn’t even like it. It felt really forced. Over time it came to grow on me, but seeing the suite performed onstage, in the form of Oscar-nominated cinematographer Ed Lachman’s video documentation of the piece, really brought it alive.

Songs for Drella was part of 1989’s “Next Wave” festival at BAM and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to see something staged there, well, the lighting design and the general production values are usually more on a level of a Broadway show than a typical rock concert. Songs for Drella is essentially a theater piece and the visuals provide much of the enjoyment as well as a vague narrative. The songs are roughly in chronological order as they tell the story of Warhol’s life, from Pittsburgh, his early days in NYC, getting shot and his worldwide fame. The narrator changes from first person (Warhol’s POV), third person descriptions and Reed and Cale’s own commentary, as both longtime friends and collaborators with the artist.

According to a photographer I knew who shot the two of them around this time, Reed and Cale seemed to absolutely loathe each other. He described them as the two biggest bastards he’s ever been hired to shoot, in fact. Hissing snakes. The pair apparently vowed never to work together again, but they did anyway, for the ill-fated Velvet Underground reunion of 1993.

Shot on December 4–5, 1989 without an audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Songs for Drella came out on VHS and Laserdisc, but as yet, has still not come out on DVD. The album itself was recorded in the weeks after this was taped.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Soundtracks: Cinematic themes from Nick Cave, Sonic Youth, Tom Waits, John Cale and more

Yesterday I blogged about an amazing music mix from ‘70s Sexploitation films. This cinematic compilation is a lovingly curated mixtape of soundtrack and spoken word work which includes Tom Waits, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, John Cale, Neil Young, Sonic Youth and many others. From Fluid Radio on SoundCloud.

Do enjoy!


Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) by Andrew Dominik
Gilles Deleuze on cinema
Bernard Hermann - Taxi Driver (1976) by Martin Scorcese
Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle - One From The Heart (1982) by Francis Ford Coppola
Antoine Duhamel - Méditerranée (1963) by Jean-Daniel Pollet
Jonny Greenwood - Bodysong (2003) by Simon Pummell
Maya Deren on the creative process
John Zorn - In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2002) by Martina Kudlacek
Mihály Vig - Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) by Béla Tarr
Carmine Coppola - Apocalypse Now (1979) by Francis Ford Coppola
Mogwai - Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2004) by Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno
Tindersticks - Trouble Every Day (2000) by Claire Denis
Angelo Badalamenti - Twin Peaks (1990) by David Lynch
Arvo Pärt - Je Vous Salue Sarajevo (1995) by Jean-Luc Godard
Elysian Fields - Sombre (1998) by Philippe Grandrieux
Hilmar Hom Hilmarsson - In the Cut (2003) by Jane Campion
John Cale - Le Vent de la Nuit (1998) by Philippe Garrel
Neil Young - Dead Man (1995) by Jim Jarmusch
Ben Frost and Daniel Bjarnason - Solaris (1972-2012) by Andreï Tarkovski
Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta (1995) by The Brothers Quay
Popol Vuh - Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) by Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog on the jungle
Sonic Youth - Pola X (1999) by Leos Carax
Danny Elfman & Elliot Smith - Good Will Hunting (1997) by Gus Van Sant

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Brief Marriage of John Cale and Betsey Johnson
05:15 pm


John Cale
Betsey Johnson

Weddng day, 1968

The Velvet Underground’s John Cale met fashion designer Betsey Johnson in May 1967, when she was designing costumes for the Edie Sedgwick movie Ciao! Manhattan. She had been using Edie as her fitting model for years and had even designed her “Edie dress,” a jersey knit creation with a criss-cross back. Johnson was dating Sterling Morrison at the time and working on her own clothing designs.

Cale wrote of Johnson in his memoir What’s Welsh for Zen? in 1999:

“Betsey took amphetamine every day—diet pills, black bombers. She was a little overweight and very sensitive about it, and she would sit up all night making clothes. Betsey was a strong individual character. When she started showing up at all the VU gigs because she could afford to, I really admired her…It seemed to me that Betsey knew everybody I knew, and she was living at the Chelsea Hotel. It was a match made in heaven.”

Johnson began making elegant dark stage clothes for the band and hanging out at New York clubs with Andy Warhol and Cale. In 2008, Johnson told Woman’s Wear Daily: “I always made John his black canvas suits with big hunks of ruffles and bows coming out, which were gorgeous. And Lou [Reed] wanted his crotch to be big, so I would always cut him a crotch.”

On her wedding day in 1968, Betsey was turned away from New York City’s City Hall for wearing pants as part of her self-designed red velvet pantsuit. She returned wearing the shortest miniskirt she could find. Cale wrote, “I made her cry on the day of her wedding because I forgot to buy her a corsage.”

During their short marriage the couple lived together in a beautiful loft on La Guardia Place but were seldom home at the same time. Cale did not take well to being married to such an ambitious working woman:

“Betsey worked hard all the time, like Andy. She would be in her showroom, and she often spent weeks in San Francisco or Los Angeles, where her factories were…I realised our career paths were so divergent that we actually lived in completely different worlds. Betsey seemed able to pass in and out of my world with ease, but I could not negotiate hers. I felt stymied by it. At that point I would get lonely and find somebody else. Betsey and I were both interested in our careers to the exclusion of personal relationships.”

Cale divorced Johnson in 1971 after relocating to Los Angeles to work as a solo artist and producer and upon meeting Cindy Wells, a.k.a. Miss Cindy, one of The GTO’s, the girl group formed by Frank Zappa.

In 2011, Betsey Johnson revealed to a reporter from Jezebel that John Cale was her favorite of her husbands.

Betsey Johnson and John Cale on the back cover of his 1970 solo album Vintage Violence

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
John Cale and Jonathan Richman interviewed together on Aussie TV, 1983
04:40 pm


John Cale
Jonathan Richman

A youthful Jonathan Richman and a surprisingly (for the time) clear-eyed John Cale interviewed on After Dark by Aussie TV host Donnie Sutherland when the pair played some dates together down under in 1983. Richman describes their Australian gigs as “Bozo the Clown opening for Jean-Paul Sartre.’

Jello Biafra was on the same show, but sadly there’s not video of that on YouTube.

In the clip below, Cale sings “Chinese Envoy” accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar:

Part 2 here.

Here John and Jonathan are a second time with Sutherland. This time it’s Richman performing “Vincent Van Gogh.” Even Cale, who seems hungover in this one, breaks out into a big grin.

Thank you, Jim Neill!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend’: Two clips of John Cale live in 1975
11:52 am


John Cale

Clips of John Cale performing live during the 1970s are pretty rare, but these takes on “Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend” and “Buffalo Ballet” at London’s Crystal Palace Concert Bowl, on June 7, 1975 (along with guitarist Chris Spedding) are gems.

Last night in New York, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Cale presented the sold-out “Life Along the Borderline: A Tribute to Nico,” joined by The Magnetic Fields, Kim Gordon, Sharon Van Etten, Greg Dulli, Mercury Rev, Alison Mosshart, Meshell Ndegeocello, Peaches and Yeasayer.

Tonight and tomorrow night, Cale performs his landmark album Paris 1919 (accompanied by the Wordless Music Orchestra) plus new material from Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood.

“Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend” gets nicely crazed at the end.

“Buffalo Ballet”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Cocaine’s a Helluva Drug: John Cale’s Rockpalast freak out, 1984

The first in an intermittent series of posts showcasing the most coked-out music performances of recent times, that are still available for the public to see via the magic of the internet.

Cocaine’s A Helluva Drug kicks off with this frankly terrifying clip of John Cale tearing up floorboards at the German Rockpalast festival in 1984, as he rips through Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” on the piano.

The madness begins at 4:40, and it is preceded in this clip by a relatively sober Cale performing the same track at the same festival one year earlier, which gives great context for just how fucked up he is the following year. Apparently most of the crowd the second time round were waiting for London’s white-funk homeboys Level 42.

For the record, Cale’s interpretation of this classic is simply astounding, delivered here in a stripped down, chilling arrangement showcasing Cale’s delicious butter-from-the-gutter growl.

This is neither a warning nor an endorsement. It simply IS.

John Cale “Heartbreak Hotel” (Live at Rockpalast 1983 & 1984)

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Documentary on heroin addiction hosted by The Velvet Underground’s John Cale

Photo: Bob Oliver

BBC news program Week In, Week Out covers the the heroin problem in Wales. Your host: John Cale.

The director of the documentary, Nick Skinner, talks about making the film with Cale:

The world I explored with John Cale was much darker. In the rundown post-industrial towns of South Wales, and the backstreets of Cardiff and Swansea, we came in contact with a the dark side of drug use. Teenagers shooting up because their mates do it, because there’s nothing else to do, because they are blocking out the pain of an abusive past. Adults trapped in a downward spiral of drugs, crime, prison and more drugs.

Heroin, Wales And Me.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Velvet Underground: Under Review (full film)

If you have ever seen any of those low-budget “Under Review” made for DVD rockumentaries, then you know that they follow a fairly tried and true formula: Almost no music by the group or performer the doc is about, approx 5 minutes of archival film clips in the course of 90 minutes and usually a bunch of crazed loner rock critics you’ve never heard of, yakking it up about their favorite rock groups. Often the interviewees are fairly tangential to the subjects, but not always. The range from awesome (the one on the early days of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention was excellent) to awful.

In The Velvet Underground: Under Review, they managed to nab TWO actual members of the Velvet Underground, Maureen Tucker and Doug Yule—both Reed and Cale, predictably sat this one out—which elevates this way above most of the others ones. Even longtime VU fans might learn something new here. For instance, I’ve listened to the VU for 36 years now and I didn’t know that Maureen Tucker didn’t play drums on Loaded because she was pregnant. Every copy of that album (and the CD) credits her on the back—your copy and mine—but it’s not her drumming, it’s Doug Yule, studio engineer Adrian Barber, a session drummer named Tommy Castanaro and Billy Yule, who was still a high school student (It doesn’t sound even remotely like Mo Tucker on Loaded as I found listening to it the day after I watched this doc). You also hear Mo talk about how she stripped down her drum kit to get a more primitive, less busy, sound. And Yule, who always gets short shrift in the VU saga, gets plenty of onscreen time to discuss his role in the band (How many of you reading this know it’s him singing “Candy Says” and not Lou Reed?). I’ve never seen an interview with him and I was very pleased to see his participation in this film. If you’re a VU fan, this film is absolutely worth your time.

Get it on DVD.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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