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‘Wild Angel,’ the 1976 album Lou Reed produced for his college roommate
03.19.2015
07:23 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Lou Reed
Nelson Slater


 
In 1976, Lou Reed produced Nelson Slater’s debut LP, Wild Angel. In the early 60s, both men had attended Syracuse, where they were bandmates and, according to at least one source, roommates. The two rockers would have gravitated toward one another, according to Velvet Underground guitarist Sterling Morrison, who recalled:

Syracuse was very, very straight. There was a one percent lunatic fringe.

The album’s back cover reproduces a note from Slater, introducing the singer to his audience. Recording artists used to do things like this.

I first knew Lou when we played together in a band at school in upstate New York. We kept in touch, and the last time I ran into him in San Francisco he decided it was time to unleash me on the world. This is what we came up with on my first album. Hope you find something nice within.

Nelson Slater
March 1976

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Wild Angel to anyone who likes Reed’s 70s work. The band consists mainly of players from Reed’s Coney Island Baby and Rock and Roll Heart albums (namely, bassist Bruce Yaw, drummer Mike Suchorsky, saxophonist Marty Fogel, and guitarist Bob Kulick), and Reed himself is all over Wild Angel, playing guitar and piano and singing backing vocals. To my ears, Slater’s voice falls somewhere between Daryl Hall’s and David Byrne’s, which sounds more pleasant than you might imagine.

 

Reed and Slater performing together
 
Victor Bockris’ Reed biography, Transformer, has only this to say about Wild Angel:

After finishing [Rock and Roll Heart], however, Lou managed to muster the energy to produce an album, called Wild Angel, for a friend of Lou’s at Syracuse, Nelson Slater. “That was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Reed commented. “RCA released it to about three people, I think. So no one very much noticed it. I think we sold six copies.” The critics who picked up on it singled out a track called “We” as a great showcase for Reed’s production talents.

In 2011, around the time he released his second album, Steam-Age Time-Giant, Slater discussed his career in an interview with WFMU. He attributed the poor showing of his debut, at least in part, to the S&M imagery in Mick Rock’s cover photo, and said that the final mix of Wild Angel was a disappointment:

I was in San Francisco at that time, and I had an incredible demo tape that I got RCA interested in, and things were cooking, and I actually signed with the label, and I needed a producer who wouldn’t produce, you know? My ideas are maybe a little difficult for a conventional producer to really get into. So, after looking for a producer for about a year, talking to Lou [about] the frustration I was having, he said, ‘Why don’t I try.’ [...] [The album was] a great disaster. The mix wasn’t quite representative of what we actually recorded. To me, it was way too soft.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The Shades: Is this mystery acetate Lou Reed’s lost first recordings?
03.12.2015
07:58 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Lou Reed


 
Now, if the question in the title seems like one of those click-baity lead-ons, where the article holds some “jaw-dropping” reveal, let me get this out of the way right now: it’s a question I’m actually asking and don’t have the answer to.

Several years ago, I was digging for records at some thrift shops in a small South Carolina town when I happened upon a filthy milk-crate, stuffed with what most record collectors would call “acetates,” but what even more persnickety record collectors would correct you into properly identifying as “lacquers.” These lacquer discs are generally one-off cut discs. When you find them out in the wild, in most cases, they are booth-recordings made of families singing Christmas carols or sending messages to loved-ones overseas. Every now and then you get lucky and find a “dub-plate” or a demo disc. On this particular day, I scored. I found a small crate full of unissued demo discs from the doo-wop era.

The discs in this haul weren’t dated, but could be musically dated between, say, 1957 and 1964. They varied stylistically from straight doo-wop to rockabilly to pop jazz vocal. Most of the discs were cut at 78 RPM, but a few were cut at 45. This seemed to be an odd mix of items collected at one time by someone involved in the music business. None of the artists named on the labels were identifiable as artists who had ever “made it.” It seemed to literally be a box of “rejects.”

Unfortunately the crate had seen years of poor storage conditions and a third of the discs were totally destroyed with their emulsion cracked, chipped, and falling off the platters. Most of the remainder were coated in palmitic acid which is a chemical reaction that takes place due to improper storage and leaves a white filmy coating all over the playing surface. I was able to meticulously clean up the discs using an ammonia-based solution recommended by professional archivists.

Even with the gentle, careful cleaning most of the discs had suffered the elements, as well as the scuffing of being thrown around in a crate without sleeves. Some cleaned up better than others. I ended up selling most of the lot in a series of eBay auctions during a cash-strapped, lean time. (Full disclosure: I attempted to sell the disc we’re about to discuss, but the reserve wasn’t met - thankfully, I was able to hang onto it!)

I was discussing some of the crate’s bounty on a 78 RPM collectors’ forum, because there were so many interesting unknown groups. In the discussions, one of the discs raised an eyebrow. This 78 RPM lacquer of The Shades performing “Talkin’ Guitar” and “All Day Long.”
 

 
The reason for the raised eyebrow was because the name of Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed’s first band was none other than “The Shades.”
 

 
I had been aware of Lou’s first band being “The Jades,” as I already owned their 45 on Time Records, but apparently, as was pointed out to me on that forum, The Jades started out as The Shades.

According to this interview with Phil Harris, Reed’s Jades bandmate, there was at least one other group operating in that region, at that time, under a similar name:

OL: Do you know exactly why The Shades had to change their name to Jades?

PH: I believe there were a few groups that came out when we did and a lot of them wore shades during their performances. I think Shad wanted us to be somewhat different from another group wearing shades and got away from that name.

 

 
So here we begin to have a mystery. This is a demo recorded in New York, the right region, at what (without a date on the label) we can assume is around the right time for this to be Lou Reed’s group. Or then again, it could be another group from the same time and general location. The songs on the lacquer are not musically similar to the smoother single released by The Jades, but do feature similar instrumentation and, like The Jades, are obviously white guys attempting an R&B style; and sure, it may be total wishful thinking on my part, but those monotone vocals sure do have a Lou-ish feel to them.

Whether or not this is Reed’s group, I think it’s a massively cool record in its own right. It’s musically raw and primitive with a “Las Vegas Grind” sound I’m a sucker for, and its scarcity makes it an important piece to preserve whether it’s Lou Reed or some random bunch of yahoos from Hoboken.

Posted below, you will find truncated excerpts from the two songs on the lacquer. The sound is a bit rough. If for no other reason, the purpose of putting this out there is to see if someone comes out of the woodwork and remembers this group and can identify the members. The comments section is open to arguments for or against this being the great, lost, first Lou Reed recording. Regardless, it’s a neat piece of musical history that’s no longer rotting in a crate someplace. If this isn’t Lou Reed, then we get so many more questions! Who are these dudes?! Where did they end up? The stories are out there, and someone’s been waiting to tell them! Maybe it’s you?
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Advanced Genius Theory: David Lee Roth, Val Kilmer, 80s Lou Reed were just too advanced for mankind


 
During my stretch as a student at the University of South Carolina (Go Cocks!), I attended classes with six individuals who would, for better or worse, go on to have a profound influence on the way we as a culture experience music. 
 

 
Four of those dudes formed Hootie and the Blowfish:
 
 
The other two were the think tank behind Advanced Genius Theory.
 

 
Wikipedia explains this theory:

The theory, developed by Jason Hartley and Britt Bergman, maintains that seemingly bad and confusing artists are actually still producing excellent works today, despite critic and fan belief. The hypothesis is based around a few key musicians (only individuals), namely Bob Dylan, Sting, David Bowie and (most-critically) Lou Reed. At one time, these musicians wore sunglasses, leather jackets and mullets when it was un-ironic to do so. Musical artists must at least have a self-portrait on one of their album covers, displaying their sunglasses or hairstyle (e.g. Street Hassle, Infidels, Aladdin Sane). The basic tenets are:

You must have done great work for more than 15 years.
You must have alienated your original fans.
You must be completely unironic.
You must be unpredictable.
You must “lose it.” Spectacularly.

Advanced Genius Theory essentially boils down to the notion that truly cutting edge work by great artists is typically misunderstood at the origin of creation, and that when those artists eventually attain public acceptance and later produce seemingly terrible material it is not so much that the new material is in actuality bad - but that the artist has advanced to the next level and it’s the audience who has yet to catch up.


 
Advanced Genius Theory was adopted and exposed to a wider audience by celebrated author Chuck Klosterman where it has since remained a hotly debated premise in music crit circles.

Sadly, this week Advanced Genius Theory founder Britt Bergman himself advanced from this mortal coil at the age of 43.

I had a chance to speak with Jason Hartley, the theory’s co-founder and author of The Advanced Genius Theory: Are They Out of Their Minds or Ahead of Their Time?

Britt was more than a contributor to the Advanced Genius Theory, he was the reason it exists. He and I had known each other as children through a basketball league, but we went to different schools. In tenth grade, we reconnected in French class because he listened to Bauhaus and I listened to Black Flag. One day I went over to his house to listen to music, and he played The Velvet Underground & Nico. I knew Lou Reed a bit, but I didn’t know anything about VU because I had grown up on classic rock. After that day with Britt, The Doors just didn’t seem so mysterious anymore, though I still liked them and didn’t see why I shouldn’t just because another band was better. So while he exposed me to music most people had never heard, I made it a little easier for him to admit that he liked classic rock (including The Doors). Our high school years were a mix of Sisters of Mercy and Foghat, Captain Beefheart and Steely Dan, the Circle Jerks and Lynyrd Skynyrd. We were cool with all of it.

But one thing we could not understand: how did Lou Reed get so terrible in the 1980s? In particular, where did the slick, drum-machine powered, antiseptic Mistrial come from? One day in college at a Pizza Hut, we figured it out. If Lou Reed was ahead of his time when he was in the Velvet Underground, he must be still ahead of his time now and we were just like all the people who didn’t understand VU. Everything clicked into place. He didn’t suddenly start sucking, he was just beyond our comprehension. One of us said, “it seems like he has lost it, but really he has advanced.” We started listening to his solo stuff, including Mistrial, and loving it. Jokingly at first, but then completely sincerely. This opened up a whole world of music we had rejected before without truly listening to it. Who were we not to give Bob Dylan the benefit of the doubt? If David Bowie wants to do a duet with Mick Jagger, isn’t it possible that he knows a bit more about what is good than we do?

Over the years we developed what became the Advanced Theory, and so when I started freelancing at Spin Magazine, I brought it up one night. Everyone dismissed it, but then over the next few days, someone would come up to me and say, “is Prince Advanced? What about Elvis Costello?” I would patiently explain to them why or why not, but they were usually unsatisfied with the explanation because they didn’t understand the rules. At the time Chuck Klosterman was a contributor to Spin, and someone told him about the Advanced Theory (I wasn’t working there anymore). A bit later, he was talking to his editor at Esquire about possible column ideas, when Sting came on. I believe Chuck said, “oh, he’s Advanced,” then explained what that was. The editor thought it would make a great column, so Chuck called me up to ask if it was okay, then interviewed me. His article mentioned Val Kilmer as the most Advanced actor, which earned Chuck an invitation to visit Val in New Mexico. I’m told David Lee Roth wanted to know if he was Advanced.  Eventually I wrote The Advanced Genius Theory, which expanded the theory to include actors, scientists, writers, and anyone else who was great for a while, then (seemingly) embarrassingly bad. All of this is thanks to Britt Bergman, who as I wrote in the book’s dedication, invented Lou Reed for me.

Read more about Advanced Genius Theory here. And in the meantime enjoy some “Advanced” Lou Reed in memory of Britt Bergman…

“The Original Wrapper”:

 
“My Red Joystick”:

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Lou Reed: ‘The Beatles were garbage’ and the Doors were ‘stupid’
02.17.2015
11:33 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Lou Reed


 
This 1987 interview released by PBS two days ago as the latest installment of its marvelous Blank on Blank series, features Lou Reed in perhaps his best interview form—and the man was a notoriously difficult interview. He’s impatient, imperious, cranky, dismissive of others, and sure of his own self-worth, putting down the Beatles and Doors and, frankly, every other musician in the world.

For, you see, the Velvets were out to “elevate the rock & roll song and take it where it hadn’t been taken before.” (Sure, the Beatles didn’t have anything like that on their resume.) In a particularly damning bit, Reed shits on Jim Morrison’s legendary and influential outfit:

From my point of view … the other stuff couldn’t come up to our ankles, not up to my kneecap, not up to my ankles, the level we were on, compared to everybody else. I mean they were just painfully stupid and pretentious, and when they did try to get, in quotes, “arty,” it was worse than stupid rock & roll. What I mean by “stupid,” I mean, like, the Doors.

The Doors were a great band, but anyone who had a Doors-obsessed roommate in college will understand where Reed’s coming from here.

The capper is surely Reed’s audible contempt as he consigns the consensus world’s best rock and roll band to idiot fodder: “I never liked the Beatles. ... I thought they were garbage. If you say, ‘Who did you like?’ I liked nobody.”

I’m sure on other occasions Reed showed more respect for the creativity of others, but not on this day…....
 

 
With thanks to David Gerlach!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The occult book that inspired the Velvet Underground’s ‘White Light/White Heat’
02.12.2015
06:47 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:
Lou Reed
Velvet Underground
Alice Bailey


The cover of Alice Bailey’s 1934 book.
 
Recently, I was reading a feature about Jonathan Richman in a 1986 issue of SPIN. This startling (to me, anyway) quote from Lou Reed jumped off the page:

One of my big mistakes was turning [Richman] on to Alice Bailey, that’s where that insect song comes from. I said, “Do you know, Jonathan, that insects are a manifestation of negative ego thoughts? That’s on page 114.” So he got that. That’s a dangerous set of books. That’s why Billy Name locked himself in his darkroom at Andy Warhol’s Factory for five months.


Wait a minute: Lou Reed was interested in Alice Bailey? Like, the theosophist Alice Bailey? Like, the musician Lou Reed, from New York City? Magic And Loss, okay, but I can’t hardly believe that the Lou Reed I’ve listened to for most of my life ever gave a flying fuck about esoteric matters. And that’s why Billy Name became such a recluse? Shut the front door, I said to the 1986 issue of SPIN; surely, Lou was pulling the journalist’s leg, putting him on, taking the piss.

How little I know. As it turns out, not only was Reed genuinely interested in Bailey’s work, but the Velvets’ “White Light/White Heat” was inspired by Bailey’s A Treatise on White Magic. That “white light goin’ messin’ up my mind” wasn’t just the rush of speed; Lou was singing about some heavy astral shit! Rock historian Richie Unterberger developed the Reed/Bailey connection while researching his White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day. Here’s Unterberger’s take on the song’s relationship to Bailey’s teachings, and to Reed’s occult interests:

Specifically, “White Light/White Heat” is often assumed to be about the exhilarating effects of crystal methedrine amphetamines, and Reed does say the song “is about amphetamines” in his 1971 interview with Metropolitan Review. But an equally likely, and perhaps more interesting, inspiration is Alice Bailey’s occult book A Treatise on White Magic. It advises control of the astral body by a “direct method of relaxation, concentration, stillness and flushing the entire personality with pure White Light, with instructions on how to ‘call down a stream of pure White Light.’” And it’s known for certain that Reed was familiar with the volume, as he calls it “an incredible book” in a November 1969 radio interview in Portland, Oregon.

Additionally, in his “I Was a Velveteen” article in Kicks, Rob Norris remembers Reed explaining “White Light/White Heat” as one example of “how a lot of his songs embodied the Virgo-Pisces [astrological] opposition and could be taken two ways.” Norris, who would get to know the band personally at the Boston Tea Party, also thinks the “white light” concept might have informed another of the album’s songs, “I Heard Her Call My Name.” “He was very interested in a form of healing just using light, projecting light,” says Norris today.

Incidentally, Reed wasn’t the only major ‘60s rock artist influenced by Bailey; Kinks guitarist Dave Davies discusses white light energy in his autobiography Kink, which reprints a couple extended quotes from Bailey’s books. Also interested in “white light” was Lou’s friend from the Factory who ended up doing the White Light/White Heat cover, Billy Name. According to Reed’s unpublished 1972 ZigZag interview, Name “got so far into it he locked himself in a closet for two years, and just never came out…I know what he was doing because I was the one who started him on the books [by Alice Bailey on magic], and we went through all fifteen volumes.”

 

 
In this excerpt from The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day, Unterberger gives a detailed account of Reed’s 1969 interview with Portland radio station KVAN. Here’s the relevant passage:

The Velvets will later be portrayed as a kind of ultimate anti-psychedelic group, but are in fact very much people of their time. Reed even steers this particular discussion in a direction that would find favor with the most spaced-out of hippies. He’s just had his aura read, he says, and had his previous incarnations revealed by a ‘reverend’ in Los Angeles, where “they told Doug, for instance, if you have long hair, you should always get it trimmed a little, get the ends cut off, because you’d pick up spiritual wasps.” (For the record, Lou’s aura was white, with “some blue, some green.”) Reed also reveals that he’s had 1,143 past lives. “Geez, that’s a lotta lives,” the deejay replies.

Reed goes on to hint at the origin of the “white light” he sings about in ‘White Light/White Heat’ when he reveals that he has recently been investigating a Japanese form of healing in Los Angeles that’s “a way of giving off white light … I’ve been involved and interested in what they call white light for a long time.” He briefly talks about Alice Bailey and her occult book A Treatise On White Magic, another likely source of his interest in white light. “It costs like ten dollars, unfortunately,” he notes apologetically. (Reed’s interest in such matters might later seem rather unlikely, given his hard-bitten, realist image. But Rob Norris recalls discussing “angels, saints, the universe, diet, yoga, meditation, Jesus, healing with music, cosmic rays, and astrology” with Reed in the late 60s in an article for Kicks magazine. Furthermore, he recalls Reed being a member of the Church Of Light in New York, which studied Bailey’s work as part of its theosophical teachings.)

Lita Eliscu’s 1970 Crawdaddy interview with Reed, “A Rock Band Can Be A Form of Yoga” (reprinted in All Yesterdays’ Parties), also mentions Reed’s interest in Bailey’s writings—to wit, “The teaching planned by the Hierarchy to precede and condition the New Age, the Aquarian Age.” News to me. Despite the song’s obvious beauty, I always figured Lou was merely being snide in the chorus of “New Age.”

Here’s a frenzied “White Light/White Heat” from one of the Velvets’ Boston Tea Party shows in 1969:
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Lou Reed’s collaboration with KISS
01.23.2015
06:04 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Lou Reed
KISS


 
Decades before Loutallica, there was KISS’s Music from “The Elder,” “the best concept album ever” (Julian Cope). There are a lot of strange things about Music from “The Elder”: recorded with an orchestra and a choir, collecting triumphant songs that sound more like the Who than KISS, the album is the soundtrack to an imaginary movie. Also, three of its songs boast lyrics by Lou Reed.

KISS recorded Elder with big-time 70s rock producer Bob Ezrin, who had produced a number of superb Alice Cooper records, along with KISS’s own Destroyer, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and Reed’s Berlin. (It’s always fun to compare the strings on Reed’s “Sad Song” with those on Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”) In the words of the “official authorized biography” KISS: Behind the Mask:

In a last-ditch effort to regain their popularity and break new artistic ground, KISS reunited with Destroyer producer Bob Ezrin for 1981’s Music from “The Elder.” The concept, initiated by Gene Simmons, centered upon a young boy’s rite of passage, a heroic life’s journey through personal discovery, doubt, and ultimate self-realization.

 

 
At some point during the lengthy sessions for Elder, a phone call was placed to the King of New York. This upbeat quote from Paul Stanley doesn’t make it sound like Lou’s contribution to the project was, shall we say, labor-intensive:

Lou was so into our “Elder” project, that when we called and explained it over the phone to him, he said, “I’ll get back to you in an hour”. And he called back an hour later with good basic lyrics to “Mr Blackwell”, “World Without Heroes”, and a lot of other stuff that hasn’t been used yet.

I think the finest of the album’s three Lou songs is “Dark Light,” which wound up on the B-side of the first single, but then I’m partial to Ace Frehley. The A-side of the first single was reserved for “A World Without Heroes.” Now, if Lou Reed spent more than ten minutes writing this turkey, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Below, KISS humiliate themselves on the ABC cult comedy series Fridays.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Primitive: Lou Reed’s pre-Velvet Underground recordings
12.08.2014
03:13 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Lou Reed


 
Some seldom heard early recordings of a recently-out-of-college Lou Reed made during his pre-Velvet Underground days as a staff songwriter and performer at Pickwick International Records, a cheapy record company that did “cash-ins” based on current fads and dance crazes.

These four tracks recorded in 1964 showed up on a 1979 Velvets bootleg called “the velvet underground, etc.” This particular bootleg, which came from Australia, was once a record collector’s holy grail, along with its companion volume, “the velvet underground & so on.” Now you can easily find both of them on audio blogs.
 

 
“You’re Driving Me Insane” by The Roughnecks:

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The nicest Lou Reed interview you’ll ever see
11.21.2014
05:26 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Lou Reed
Flo & Eddie
Midnight Special


 
So the story goes like this: In the spring of 1978, shortly after he’d released the amazing LP Street Hassle, Lou Reed was asked to host an episode of NBC’s late-night music program The Midnight Special. Reed was asked to submit lyrics to the songs he wished to perform, and, quelle fucking surprise, NBC balked at airing some of them. Rather than alter his work, Reed declined to appear, no harm done, except that an episode that could have been an all-time classic was instead ultimately hosted by—hold on to your lunch—Journey.

But Midnight Special did something exceptionally cool. Instead of just letting this matter pass quietly, they invited Reed on as a guest, in an interview segment hosted by Turtles/Zappa madcaps Flo & Eddie, specifically to talk about exactly why he wasn’t serving as the program’s host that night, and in the process they discussed censorship in broadcast media and the validity of “shock value” in pop music! At a generous seven and a half minutes long, the segment covered a lot of ground, and astutely at that. Perhaps because they were fellow weirdo musicians, Flo & Eddie got a genial, reflective Lou Reed, not the notoriously spiky prick who could and would unhesitatingly annihilate interviewers.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Cranky Lou Reed interview from 1975 is full of hilariously nasty gems
‘Lou Believers’: Sonic Youth in the weirdest Lou Reed ‘tribute’ you’ll ever see
(B)Lou’s on first? Dangerous Minds sparks clash between Blue Man Group and Lou Man Group!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Three DVD box set pays tribute to Lou Reed, Velvets, Iggy, Bowie and punk


 
Seemingly just as Lou Reed left this earth, I noticed this box set on Amazon called Lou Reed Tribute from Chrome Dreams, a UK company that has put out some cool DVDs (this one, Frank Zappa, Keith Richards, etc.) and some stuff that puzzles me (Springsteen, Prince, Britney Spears?).

I wasn’t sure about it but it had three DVDs in a nicely designed box and it was so inexpensive that I had to get it. I had just learned about another product of theirs that looked great, a double DVD documentary about Zappa and Beefheart called When Don Met Frank: Beefheart Vs. Zappa, only to read in the reviews that it was a total ripoff and that it was two old documentaries repackaged in one set without any mention of this anywhere on the product. I was prepared for the worst.
 
z.s:d,gchm
 
Surprisingly, these were actually pretty good! First up is The Velvet Underground Under Review—yes, the awful title sounds like a science project, but inside is a concise and interesting documentary featuring interviews with at least one person I’d never seen interviewed before (Norman Dolph, who did their first demo acetate that’s been floating around the last few years and is, in fact, on eBay now for $65,000). I really liked the Billy Name segments as he was actually there on the inside in those early days, which they go into pretty deeply, including the pre-Velvets Pickwick Records budget-goofy rock ‘n’ roll recordings Lou was doing, which I love (and which were not all goofy as there was some true garage greatness in there as well). Also great are the Moe Tucker and Doug Yule interviews.

It had a good approach and really, I can watch stuff like this all day.
 
s;dkjcng
 
The second DVD is The Sacred Triangle: Bowie Iggy & Lou 1971-1973. I really enjoyed this one, though as I started to realize, Chrome Dreams is a bit of a “quickie” company and similar people were overlapped in this and the other DVDs making me realize that these were probably not originally intended to be watched back to back. This also has some amazing interviews, and again really delves into the early days of Bowie’s more whimsical period in the sixties when he was already obsessed and ripping off (and covering) The Velvet Underground, having been given one of the first and only pre first album demo acetates in 1965 or ‘66.

It goes into great detail about Bowie’s “cool beginnings” when the cast of Andy Warhol’s play Pork were in London and looking for bands to see and decided to go see an unknown David Bowie because he was wearing a dress on his then-current album cover. These people (Tony Zanetta, Cherry Vanilla, Wayne County and Leee Black Childers) all became Mainman Ltd., the bizarre company that ran most of Bowie’s affairs and mutated him into Ziggy Stardust in no time. Seeing Leee Black Childers (R.I.P.) interviewed, with him in his rockabilly best and with a big Band-aid® on his forehead said it all as far as who he was and how much he gave a fuck, one of the first true punk rockers, ever.

Similarly but multiplied by a hundred is Wayne, now Jayne County (“now” meaning for the last 35 years or so!) who is amazing in a huge red chair with a wild matching red outfit, makeup and her trademark fishnet stockings over her arms like long gloves, talking matter of factly about what really went down. Everyone knows Jayne County as a glam and then punk rock innovator, but we forget (or some don’t know) that Jayne was a real Warhol Superstar along with Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis. And Jayne starred in Warhol’s Pork (as Vulva, a characterization of Viva). The interviews with Angie Bowie, as always, are insane and classic. This DVD was really great and informative about my favorite small moment in rock n roll. The only annoyance is that they didn’t know who Cherry Vanilla is, and they talk about her a lot as she starred in Pork but kept showing a photo of someone else every time they referred to her!
 
egrfndtfukr
 
The last DVD, Punk Revolution NYC: The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls and the CBGB Set 1966-1974 is also really great, surprisingly. Believe me, with a title like this, where I come from this should be a real groaner, but it wasn’t. Not to discredit some of the interviewees, but I think that a lot of bigger names wouldn’t talk to Chrome Dreams, or couldn’t, so they had to dig deeper and get some people that did not become famous, but certainly are people I know that most definitely deserve to be interviewed and put a new spin on a now pretty tired subject. So it actually worked in their favor.

A good “for instance” is Elda Stiletto (Gentile), someone I knew and someone who is the perfect bridge to the exact time frame of this documentary. Elda was married to Warhol Superstar Eric Emerson. Emerson started pretty much the first glitter band in NYC, The Magic Tramps, only to be steamrolled by the New York Dolls and all that came in their path. Eric Emerson was also the upside down figure on The Velvet Underground and Nico LP’s back cover, who sued hoping to get some quick dough, but was foiled when he just caused the LP to be delayed, first with a big sticker covering him, then with his image being airbrushed out of the photo entirely. (Why none of this was mentioned is beyond me.) Elda Stiletto then went on to form The Stilettos with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, a sort of “glitter doo wop” group that morphed into Blondie after all the other girls were gotten rid of. Two of the other gals in The Stilettos were Tish and Snooky who would go on to sing in The Sic Fucks and founded Manic Panic, a small punk store (that is now a large corporation—I was their first employee!) on St. Marks Place (just a few doors down from where The Dom was, where The Velvets played, later to become The Electric Circus where The Stooges and many others played).

Also interviewed are Suicide’s Alan Vega, Richard Lloyd from Television, Leee Black Childers and Jayne County, this time in the most insane outfit ever! She’s on a big black couch, reclining on her back, facing the camera completely covered in a ton of black fabric so she looks like a demented floating disembodied head! Ha ha!! To top it all off she’s wearing a black witchy wig and crazy electric blue makeup that is just insane looking. She never fails to blow my mind! They also talked to Richard Hell, Ivan Julian from The Voidoids, photographer Roberta Bayley, Danny Fields and more. There was oddly, no mention of The Ramones!

Ultimately all three DVDs come off like extremely dry BBC docs and there is a lot of overlap, but it doesn’t totally take away from the experience. The punk DVD just suddenly says “End of Part One” and stops, which is annoying because it actually was good. Where is part two? Sprinkled throughout these documentaries are critics like Robert Christgau and Simon Reynolds, biographer Victor Bockris and other experts.

Below, here’s the lead doc, The Velvet Underground Under Review. The quality is “eh” so you might want to get the DVDs. The Lou Reed Tribute DVD box set sells for less than $20 on Amazon. Used it’s under $10.
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Cranky Lou Reed interview from 1975 is full of hilariously nasty gems
09.30.2014
08:41 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Lou Reed


 
Oh, my…. Hell hath no fury like Lou Reed in close proximity to a journalist who has gotten on his bad side. I’d imagine a good chunk of the DM audience has already seen the hilarious clip of Lou Reed being royally unhelpful to some Australian journalists in 1974…. my first exposure to that footage was before a Morrissey show I saw in Dublin in 2009, it was part of the pre-gig entertainment.

This desultory interview from 1975 isn’t as well known, but it deserves to be considered in the same league as that Australian clip. It’s odd footage because it’s almost uncut raw footage, we get to see a dude with a boom mic several times—a couple times at the start or end of a take, the camera might zoom off crazily to one side, etc.
 

 
The best bits come right around the middle, when Lou and his interviewer engage in a series of one-liners that are somehow vaguely reminiscent of an ill-tempered Abbott and Costello routine:
 

LR: Don’t believe what you read.
I: No, I don’t.
LR: Don’t believe what you see.
I: Is it true that you wrote Sally Can’t Dance in the studio?
LR: If I say so, I guess….
I: But did you?
LR: I wasn’t there!
I: You were there.
LR: No I wasn’t. Dougie [Yule] did it.
I: Are you happier as a brunet?
LR: Ahh…. are you happier as a schmuck?
I: I’m no schmuck.
LR: I’m no brunet.
I: You were blond last time.
LR: No I wasn’t.
I: You were.
LR: I was a bleach blond.
I: A bleached blond.
LR: Trashy blond.
I: You looked younger as a blond.
LR: Well, you look older.
I: I’m not a blond, though.
LR: I know, it’s worse.

 
At one point, in response to an admittedly inane query about Berlin, Lou says, “It was a long time ago. I’m obsessed with Metal Machine Music.” So the interview was perhaps in support of what is widely considered one of the more prominent eff-yous in recording history, a fact that informs Lou’s contrary attitude, perhaps? (Or else it was for Lou Reed Live, which also came out in 1975.)
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Watch Laurie Anderson’s dog Lolabelle improvise her own experimental music
07.30.2014
09:29 am

Topics:
Animals

Tags:
Lou Reed
Laurie Anderson
dogs


 
Laurie Anderson loved her dog Lolabelle. Upon Lola’s passing, Anderson created a lovely sculpture of her ashes in memoriam. She delivered introspective monologues about their relationship. She put on concerts for dogs with Lola sharing the stage (for the record, the music is actually kind of interesting—structureless, but very tonal, and not entirely composed of high pitched whistles inaudible to the human ear). Anderson even sent Lola to music therapy, the adorable results of which you can see below.

Billing itself as “Common Sense Counseling for Dogs and their Humans,” Dog Relations NYC is a sort of Montessori-style obedience school, and as far as I know, they’re the only pet service with a testimonial from Laurie Anderson and the late Lou Reed and on their homepage—apparently dog behavior counselor Elisabeth Weiss has quite the magic touch.

Elisabeth was one of the key people in helping maintain the spirit and integrity of Lola’s life. Everyday Lola looked forward to her time with Elisabeth. It was a great relationship that we all rejoiced in. Elisabeth is a kind dog genius. Her help cannot be overestimated and went far beyond what one can buy. Lolabelle loved her. We all loved her.

Lolabelle’s musical ventures were categorized by Dog Relations NYC as Occupational Therapy—she had actually been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, but honestly I’d imagine this is the sort of thing that might just calm any nervous little terrier. At any rate, she looks genuinely rapt by her own keyboard skills. On the first video, she is receiving no instruction from a human. The second is a collaboration of sorts for Rock n Roll Rescue, a benefit for Art For Animals.
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Making of an Underground Film: Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol and a ‘topless’ Velvet Underground


 
There is simply too much pork for the fork in this wild CBS Evening News report on the then-new phenomenon of “underground films” from New Year’s Eve of 1965/66.

Seen here are Piero Heliczer filming the Velvet Underground, along with testimony from Jonas Mekas, Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol, a gorgeous young Edie Sedgwick, Al Aronowitz (the rock journo who introduced The Beatles to Dylan—and pot), Willard Van Dyke of the Museum of Modern Art, Chuck Wein, even shirtless and bodypainted Lou Reed and John Cale. Angus MacLise, who was still in the group when this was shot makes an appearance as well.

I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the first and so far at least, only time an excerpt from a Stan Brakhage film was ever shown on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.
 

 
Thank you Michael Simmons!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Lou Man Group exists and seems pretty brilliant, and that’s about all we can tell you about them


 
In recent weeks, when former child star Macaulay Culkin’s headache-inducingly stupid vanity band—the now infamous pizza-themed Velvet Underground “tribute” called The Pizza Underground—was booed and bottled off of a UK festival stage and subsequently canceled its tour, most sane observers were heard to say (in my imagination, anyway) “WHEW! Guess that’s the last we’ll hear of high concept, non-sequitur Lou Reed related cover bands.” But such declamations would have been premature—for on the horizon, a challenger appears, and it’s a credible challenger.
 

 
All I have to share with you is this: a flier exists advertising an appearance by Lou Man Group (there’s no way this joke needs explaining, right, we all know about Blue Man Group?) this past Saturday at L.A.’s Cowboy Gallery, whose FB page says exactly squat about such an event. The “band” has a web site with a video and a few photos, which directs the reader to an equally sparse Facebook page, just established in March. About all that can be said for sure is that this Lou Man Group probably has nothing to do with Lou Piniella’s. Their YouTube channel so far boasts all of two videos, the weird and insidery “The Manager,” and a lengthier advertisement for the group that features actually really cool and worthy versions of “Vicious,” “Foggy Notion” and, unsurprisingly, “Walk On The Wild Side”.
 

 

 
So did any DM readers attend this show? Is this a real band, and not just a clever tease? I’m really keen to know what’s up, because I LOVE THIS.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Lou Reed shoots ‘Heroin’ onstage in Houston, 1974
05.19.2014
03:51 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Music

Tags:
Lou Reed
heroin


Photo by Michael Zagaris, art print available at Wolfgang’s Vault
 
Last week I posted some Lou Reed concert footage from 1974’s Rock N Roll Animal tour and now here is some more.

First up, a nice long bash at “Heroin” complete with the infamous tied-off arm/syringe/shooting up bit. Cute. It’s easy to see why a Velvets freak like Lester Bangs would have been disgusted with his idol at this point. Talk about jumping the shark! What was the guy thinking? Nevertheless, naturally the heavily ‘luded out mid-70s audience squeals with delight as Uncle Lou pretends to jack up. Tacky then, tacky now, especially considering it was Hep C that basically killed the guy.

This was shot in Houston, Texas on November 13, 1974. It’s a bit wobbly, but it exists, you know? It exists.
 

 
“Sweet Jane,” “Vicious” and the beginning of “Heroin” on this clip (made from the original 1/2” B&W open reel mastertape, it says). Lou Reed obviously could not dance for shit:
 

 
Personally, I’m of the opinion that some of the best live Lou Reed recordings come from when “The Phantom of Rock” (as RCA was marketing him at the time) was being backed by a band called The Tots. This is the period around when Transformer first hit, “Walk On the Wild Side” was a massive smash and Reed had pretty much become a superstar in Europe. He had not yet fully gone over to the insectoid speedfreak dark side as seen above, but clearly he was working on it.

There are two fantastic bootlegs of this group worth looking for, “American Poet” recorded on Reed’s Long Island home turf in late 1972 and “The Phantom of Rock” taped live at Alice Tully Hall in January 1973.

This footage was shot for France’s POP2 television show. Reed sings “Walk On The Wild Side,” “Heroin” and “White Light/White Heat.” You’ll enjoy it more if you turn it up.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal’: High quality footage of Lou Reed live in concert, 1974
05.12.2014
09:41 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Lou Reed


 
Although, this footage of Lou Reed performing live in Paris in 1974 on his celebrated Rock n Roll Animal tour has been around for years, it’s always been pretty much unwatchable tenth generation VHS garbage. In the early 90s I was thrilled to buy a bootleg copy of this for $16 from a street vender on Fifth Avenue only to get it home to find that it was a “one” on a scale of one to ten. Ten years ago I found a DVD boot at the Pasadena Flea Market, but that turned out to be bad quality, too. It’s been posted various times on YouTube in the past, but none of these versions were much of an improvement… until this one.

It wasn’t as if a freak like Lou Reed would have gotten on television all that often in the 1970s, and of course European audiences often accepted America’s wildest performers with open arms long before we ever did, so this could probably be counted as only Reed’s second major TV appearance (the first having been the Velvet Underground mini-reunion at the Bataclan nightclub with John Cale and Nico that aired on French TV’s POP2 series in 1972).
 

 
And then there is this. The infamously smartassed ‘74 Australian press conference has been on YouTube for years, and will be familiar to many readers, but take a gander at the live footage from Down Under that comes after that, at the 5:27 mark: An excellent “Walk On the Wild Side” (complete with Uncle Lou’s spazzy dancing) and “Rock and Roll.” And it’s great quality.
 

 
Thank you Chris Campion of Hollywood, CA!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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