The Pizza Underground: Macaulay Culkin’s pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band
12.06.2013
05:27 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground
heroin
pizza
Macaulay Culkin


 
Good for him: After years of being accused of having a junk habit, Macaulay Culkin decided to tweak his reputation a little by covering the druggy anthems of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground… but with a twist: all of the lyrics have been retooled to be about pizza. Culkin contributes vocals, kazoo, and primitive Moe Tucker-style “percussion” pounded out on empty pizza boxes to The Pizza Underground.

So far, The Pizza Underground have only put out one song—a “demo” medley on Bandcamp featuring “Papa John Says,” “I’m Beginning to Eat the Slice,” “Pizza,” “I’m Waiting for Delivery Man,” “Cheese Days,” “Pizza Day,” “All the Pizza Parties,” “Pizza Gal,” “Take a Bite of the Wild Slice.”

The Pizza Underground have done just one gig. Their demo was recorded live at Macaulay Culkin’s house on November 11, 2013 . Sure, it’s essentially one joke milked to death, but hey, I laughed!
 

 

 
Thank you Adam Starr of Los Angeles, CA!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
(Nearly) unheard Velvet Underground teaser from upcoming ‘White Light/White Heat’ box set
11.25.2013
02:50 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground
Chris Stein


 
In anticipation of the upcoming box set of The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition—which drops December 10th—the kind folks at the Universal Music Group have given Dangerous Minds readers a taste of what is to come. They even let me choose the track, “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore,” and it’s a stunner.

The three-disc, 30-track set includes both the original stereo and mono mixes of the album, alternate versions and unreleased outtakes, including John Cale’s final studio sessions with the band. The set’s centerpiece, though, is the official release of their complete show at The Gymnasium in New York, recorded on April 30, 1967. The Gymnasium performance was bootlegged in 2008, but this was transferred from John Cale’s personal copy. The White Light/White Heat box set comes housed in a 56-page hardbound book and was developed in full cooperation with both Lou Reed and John Cale.

Reed would have been a 25-year-old in 1967 when he wrote “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore.” WHY this song was never officially recorded, well, is a mystery for the ages. If there was a an hour-long version of this song, I’d put it on a loop 24-7. Was its sole outing the Gymnasium gig? I’ve got shitloads of VU bootlegs and I’m unaware of it appearing on any other set list. Go figure!

The Gymnasium was located in the East 70s and was originally a Czechoslovakian health and social club. The gym equipment was actually left in the club. A teenaged Chris Stein, later of Blondie, played at the space with his own band and remembers seeing The Velvet Underground there:

It was pretty late at night by the time we got out of the subway in Manhattan and headed toward the Gymnasium. Walking down the block with our guitars we actually saw some people coming down the street and they said, “Oh, are you guys the band, because we’ve been waiting there all night and we couldn’t take it anymore, we left because they never showed up.” So we said, “Yeah, we’re the band.” We went inside and there was hardly anyone there. Somebody said Andy was supposed to be there, but he was off in the shadows with his entourage, we never saw him. We hung around for a little while and they played records, then we headed up for the stage. It was a big echoey place, we had absolutely no conception of playing a place like this whatsoever, but Maureen Tucker said we could use their equipment. So we plugged into their amps and the amps were all cranked up superloud…. The only song I remember doing was “You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover.” We must have done a few more, but I remember sitting down after a while because the whole thing had gotten me pretty discouraged. Then somebody came over and said, “Oh Andy likes you, he thinks you’re great.” We must have played five or six songs then we just gave up. By that time the rest of The Velvets had arrived. After a while they started to play and they were like awesomely powerful. I had never expected to experience anything like that before…. I was really disappointed that they didn’t have Nico, because we thought she was the lead singer, but I distinctly remember the violin and their doing “Venus in Furs” because a couple of people in dark outfits got up and started doing a slow dance with a chain in between them…. There were maybe thirty people there. It was very late, but it was a memorable experience….

It seems likely that Stein might be describing the very show (no Nico here) contained on the box set. The complete and utter lack of applause might also be because of the small number of people Stein recalls being there. It was 45 years ago, so who knows?

When Reed died recently, Rolling Stone asked Thurston Moore for a memory of the rocker, and he referenced “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore.”

I was at South by Southwest in 2008, playing at a Lou Reed appreciation concert. I’d just heard “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore,” which had just surfaced on a Velvet Underground bootleg. It was this powerful song I’d never heard before. Before we went on, I was talking to Lou and told him about it and he said, “How the hell do you know about that song?” I said, “It just surfaced on a bootleg on the Internet.” I said I thought it would be a good song to play since I just turned 50. And when I said that, he looked at me, half smiled and embraced me. It was wonderful and completely unexpected.

Below, have a listen to “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore.” I’m totally in love with this song. This groove don’t quit. Turn it up loud enough so that it hits you like a fucking freight train.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Lou Reed dead at 71
10.27.2013
10:53 am

Topics:
Music
R.I.P.

Tags:
Lou Reed
Velvet Underground


 
Lou Reed is dead at the age of 71. He’d gotten a liver transplant in Cleveland back in May, but the cause of his death has not been disclosed.

Reed’s wife, Laurie Anderson told the Times of London earlier this year regarding the transplant: “It’s as serious as it gets. He was dying. You don’t get it for fun.”

Below,  Andy Warhol’s “Symphony in Sound,” one of the only known sync sound film recordings of The Velvet Underground:
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Astonishing found footage of kids dancing to the Velvet Underground in 1956!
03.24.2013
11:19 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground
Teen dance show


 
From the DM archives:

The footage is from TV teen dance show “Seventeen” that aired in 1956 on Iowa station WOI-TV. The video was uploaded to the Internet without sound. In its silence, I imagined a soundtrack completely unrelated to the place and the time these dancers inhabit. I put together a soundtrack of tunes that is far different from the kind of rock ‘n’ roll that existed in the mid-1950s…but not that far. As long as there’s a beat that syncs up with the movement of the teenagers in the clip, it doesn’t matter what era the music is from - it’s all about the rhythm, the rock and the roll. Yep, the soul of music is timeless. And here’s the proof: a bunch of kids dancing to the Bush Tetras and The Velvet Underground in 1956.

Songs:
Run, Run, Run - The Velvet Underground
Rule The Nation - U- Roy
DJ’s Choice - Dennis Alcapone
Warm Leatherette - The Normal
Why Can’t I Touch It - The Buzzcocks
Too Many Creeps - The Bush Tetras
Love Song - The Cure
B.O.B. - Outkast
America Drinks And Goes Home - The Mothers Of Invention
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Vintage 1969 Velvet Underground radio ad asks ‘How do you feel?’
02.27.2013
12:08 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground


 

“How do you feel? You don’t know really know how you feel… Why?”

It seems like it makes sense—rules of grammar and sentence structure are observed—but in fact, this commercial for the third Velvet Underground album makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Not knocking it, though, that’s what makes it so cool.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Andy Warhol’s Index: A Pop Art, pop-up children’s book for druggy hipsters, 1967
02.26.2013
08:39 am

Topics:
Art
Books

Tags:
Andy Warhol
Velvet Underground


 
Andy Warhol’s Index, the Pope of Pop’s mass-produced 1967 pop-up book has been described as a “children’s book for hipsters.” It’s an item seldom encountered these days outside of auction houses, or high end book dealers, but on occasion the item does, er, pop-up on eBay for a decent price. You can usually find several expensive copies on ABEbooks.com.

The prices can vary quite a bit: there’s a hardback version with a plastic lenticular cover vs a foil-printed paperback, and copies signed by Warhol, obviously, have quite a premium on them. The other factor in how dealers price the book, however, tends to be about how complete it is. Random House probably didn’t published too many of these to begin with, and obviously they were hand-made to a certain extent. Many of the goodies that were originally part of the package tend to have gotten lost over the decades, so a complete edition is difficult to come by and often very expensive (I’ve owned two copies of this myself, an incomplete hardback copy that I lost in a girlfriend “divorce” and the pristine, complete paperback I found for a shockingly low price at The Strand’s rare book room about fifteen years ago that’s sitting on a shelf behind me as I type this).

Whenever someone over to the house expresses an interest in my book collection, Andy Warhol’s Index is one of the first things I pull out. As you can see from this video below, it’s a pretty impressive item, with pop-up planes, accordions, Campbell’s soup cans, Edie, Lou, Nico, things you’re supposed to dunk into water, even a pop-up paper castle meant to stand-in for the infamous dwelling where visiting rock bands stayed when they were in Los Angeles in the 60s.

Contributors besides Warhol were David Paul, Stephen Shore, Billy Name, Nat Finkelstein, Paul Morissey, Ondine, Nico, Christopher Cerf, Alan Rinzler, Gerald Harrison and Akihito Shirakawa.
 

 
The flexi disc of a 1966 Factory “Conversation” (Nico, Lou, Andy, John Cale and others talking about a mock-up of the book itself) is almost never found still in the binding. Listen below:
 

 

 
The tear-off sheet to the right of Henry Geldzahler, the influential curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, above, was supposed to be dunked into a glass of water. Rumors were that it was blotter acid, but I think instead (I’ve never tried it) you got Warhol’s signature in invisible ink or it expanded like a sponge.
 

 

 

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The Velvet Underground & Nico’s ‘Scepter Sessions’: Win limited edition vinyl!
01.07.2013
01:00 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground


 
Happy 2013 you lovely, smart Dangerous Minds readers!

To kick off the new year right, we’ve got another great music give-away thanks to the fine folks at the Universal Music Group (Congrats to Richard Swanson who won the Frank Zappa CDs last month).

This time, one lucky winner, chosen at random, will receive UMe’s new 2 CD deluxe release of The Velvet Underground & Nico and a vinyl copy of the legendary Scepter sessions acetate. Disc one features a new (and quite good sounding) remastering of this classic album but it’s what’s on disc 2 (and the LP) that’s extra special. Since I have already ranted and raved about the “45th Anniversary Super Deluxe edition” box set that this more compact set was carved out of last month, I’ll stick with what I wrote earlier:

The selling points of this set have little to do with the album as we know it, however, and everything to do with it being the first official release of the now legendary Scepter Studios sessions as discovered on the “Norman Dolph acetate” found at the Sixth Ave Flea market in New York in 2002.

The acetate (a glass test record) was cut of the original five day VU recording sessions at the near derelict studios belonging to the Scepter Records label in 1966. These sessions were paid for by a Columbia Records sales executive named Norman Dolph (who I’ve met—we both collect Paul Laffoley’s art—he’s a fascinating guy) and Andy Warhol. As heard on disc four of this new box set—in the cleanest version you’ll ever hear—the Scepter Studios sessions is a true revelation—white light, white heat, even!—for any aficionado of the Velvet Underground, even the most jaded ones, like me.

It’s a show stopper. Some reviewers call the differences minor, but I don’t think so…

Truly, I’d have never thought that I could get into this album again with fresh ears, but that really has happened, via the Scepter sessions. I’ve been listening to it obsessively for about a week and just digging the fuck out of it.

Five tracks are the same, although there are different mixes, three entirely different takes and several vocal changes. Since it’s likely that when these same multi-tracked tapes were taken back into the studio at TTG in Los Angeles for finishing, the original performances were probably recorded over: Lou Reed’s falsetto backing vocals on “Femme Fatale” for instance (in the version we know he sings low and flat). “Heroin” features a far more frantic, crazed viola from Cale and even starts off with a much different opening line, giving new meaning to the lyrics (John Cale wrote of being infuriated at the change in his autobiography, now we can hear what he was so pissed off about.) “European Son” is two minutes longer and although the take is different enough from the final version known on the album, it’s pretty amazing to hear just how well-rehearsed that ear-splitting cacophony actually was! That this was “lost” for so many years, and now can be heard like this, well, it’s pretty extraordinary, it really is.

You can win a free copy of the deluxe 2 CD set of The Velvet Underground & Nico, as well as a limited edition LP version of the Sceptor sessions that was pressed on vinyl especially for Record Store Day in 2012.

To enter, it’s simple, all you have to do is “like” The Velvet Underground’s Facebook page and subscribe to the Dangerous Minds daily newsletter (see widget at the top of this page). Once you’ve done both, please leave a comment below telling us why you deserve to win. The winner will be notified on Wednesday, January 9th.

Incidentally, there’s an interesting online marketing tool that UMe came up with to sell this album that will be of interest to Velvet Underground fans and downtown New Yorkers both past and present: An interactive map of significant addresses in the history of the band and what they are today. For instance, The Dom nightclub, where Warhol’s EPI happenings occurred in 1967, located at 23 St. Marks Place—later called Cheetah and for a long time the home of NA and AA meetings—has now been divided up between a Sock Man store, a Chipotle and a gourmet cheese shop (at least that’s what was there when I was last in NYC).

Locations on the Lower East Side where Lou and John used to score heroin are probably selling artisanal mayonnaise now…

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
It’s Just Too Much: Holy grail of Velvet Underground recordings released as part of new box set
 

 
Thank you Adam Starr!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Terry ¡Me va!’: Pre-Velvet Underground Nico in TV brandy ads, 1964
01.02.2013
09:38 am

Topics:
Advertising

Tags:
Nico
Velvet Underground


 
The year on the YouTube uploads says 1970, but these corny Centenario Terry brandy ads, made for Spanish TV, actually date back to 1964.
 

 
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Nico performs a solemn version of ‘Genghis Khan’ on French TV, 1979
12.17.2012
03:07 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Nico
Velvet Underground


 
On June 27, 1979, accompanied only by her harmonium, Nico performed a stunning “Genghis Khan,” a typically atmospheric number from her as then-unrecorded 1981 album, Drama of Exile, on French television.

I have come to lie with you
I have come to die with you
On your padded shoulder
And your golden chest
In a wilderness of glass we rest
And all the flowers they are our words
And my chances follow dances Into a storm afraid
A sweet and bitter rest he gets
A sweet and bitter rest he gets
I have come to lie with you
I have come to die with you.

They don’t write ‘em like that anymore, do they?

The golf claps from the audience speak volumes about how this must’ve gone down in 1979!
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The Velvet Underground Live at The Boston Tea Party, 1969
12.06.2012
12:51 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground
Jonathan Richman


 
Still on a musical high from listening (over and over and over again) to The Velvet Underground & Nico 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition box set (read my review here), I’ve also been on a tear through the (not inconsiderable amount of) VU bootlegs I have amassed over the years.

One of the better ones is this show that was taped on January 10,1969 in Boston, at the Velvets’ “home away from home,” The Boston Tea Party nightclub.

Future Modern Lover and huge Velvets fan Jonathan Richman was often in the audience during the Boston shows:

“Sometimes you just plain couldn’t figure out where on the stage those strange sounds and harmonics were coming from, because of the eerie calm with which they played and improvised in front of you, and because every time they’d come to town they’d introduce at least one new song that would, for better or worse, sound like nothing else that had gone before in rock music.”

The opening act that night were folk freaks The Holy Modal Rounders.

There’s a particularly good take of “Move Right In” (with a Moe Tucker savagely pounding her floor toms), nice readings of quieter numbers like “I’m Set Free” and “Candy Says”; and a great rave-up of “I Can’t Stand It.” It ends, natch, with a roof-raising “Sister Ray.”

The whole thing sounds great for an old audience recording, but it sounds so much better if you REALLY CRANK IT.

1. Heroin (0:00)
2. Move Right In (8:26)
3. I’m Set Free (13:12)
4. Run Run Run (17:49)
5. I’m Waiting For The Man (25:39)
6. What Goes On (34:35)
7. I Can’t Stand It (39:05)
8. Candy Says (45:23)
9. Beginning To See The Light (50:10)
10. White Light/White Heat (56:00)
11. Pale Blue Eyes (61:42)
12. Sister Ray (68:10)

 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
It’s Just Too Much: Holy grail of Velvet Underground recordings released as part of new box set

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Willie ‘Loco’ Alexander: The greatest rocker ever to fail at being in The Velvet Underground

Willie Alexander
 
When Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison left The Velvet Underground in 1971, the resulting band (still called The Velvet Underground, for some reason) was ignored at best, and condemned at worst. Their album Squeeze, was primarily written by Doug Yule, who has himself described it as an “embarrassment.” Critics and fans perceived it as a pale sham seeking to capitalize off the work of previous members, and without Lou Reed, it’s really hard to argue that point. To this day Squeeze has never been released in America on CD.

The worst part of Squeeze though, is not just that it’s a pretty mediocre album, but the fact that its embarrassing legacy absolutely buried an awesome artist. Willie “Loco” Alexander, brought in to replace Sterling Morrison, has made music consistently since leaving the ersatz VU, and has produced some absolutely fantastic stuff. (And rock ‘n’ roll nerds rejoice, Youtube makes a lot of it easy to get ahold of.)

His work with the Boom Boom Band is fun, nasty, proto-punk with a glam skeez, but he also got fairly experimental. His 1980s New Wave gem “Gin,” layers thunder and and simple synthy riffs over a New Wave ballad. It’s baffling that we’ve never heard it in the prom scene of an 80s movie.

Alexander has always had an underground following among Boston punks and in France, but it’s an injustice that his name in rock history is only significantly associated with one toss-away album that only esoteric rock ‘n’ roll aficionados would care about. A prolific and diverse artist, and one too interesting to fall through the cracks, Willie “Loco” Alexander should be known as much more than a guy who once rode The Velvet Underground’s coattails.

Below, Willie “Loco” Alexander and the Boom Boom Band, “Mass Ave.”:
 

 
“Gin”:

Written by Amber Frost | Discussion
I’m Not a Young Man Anymore: Velvet Underground rarity, live in 1967
08.07.2012
11:19 am

Topics:
Heroes
History

Tags:
Velvet Underground
Chris Stein

image
 
In 2008, a live recording of the Velvet Underground, made in 1967 (one of the earliest live recordings that exists of the group) at a NYC club called The Gymnasium, was bootlegged, and received joyously by fans. Notable tracks include the live debut of a full 19-minute long workout of “Sister Ray,” “Guess I’m Falling in Love” (which was on the Peel Slowly and See box set) and a song that’s never seen the light of day anywhere else, “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore” (Lou Reed would have been a 25-year-old in 1967, go figure). You can find the VU Gymnasium show bootleg on a number of audio blogs.

The venue was located in the East 70s, and was originally a Czechoslovakian health and social club. The gym equipment was actually left in the club. A teenaged Chris Stein, later of Blondie, played at the Gymnasium with his own band and remembers seeing The Velvet Underground there:

“It was pretty late at night by the time we got out of the subway in Manhattan and headed toward the Gymnasium. Walking down the block with our guitars we actually saw some people coming down the street and they said, ‘Oh, are you guys the band, because we’ve been waiting there all night and we couldn’t take it anymore, we left because they never showed up.’ So we said, ‘Yeah, we’re the band.’ We went inside and there was hardly anyone there. Somebody said Andy was supposed to be there, but he was off in the shadows with his entourage, we never saw him. We hung around for a little while and they played records, then we headed up for the stage. It was a big echoey place, we had absolutely no conception of playing a place like this whatsoever, but Maureen Tucker said we could use their equipment. So we plugged into their amps and the amps were all cranked up superloud… The only song I remember doing was “You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover.” We must have done a few more, but I remember sitting down after a while because the whole thing had gotten me pretty discouraged. Then somebody came over and said, ‘Oh Andy likes you, he thinks you’re great.’ We must have played five or six songs then we just gave up. By that time the rest of The Velvets had arrived. After a while they started to play and they were like awesomely powerful. I had never expected to experience anything like that before… I was really disappointed that they didn’t have Nico, because we thought she was the lead singer, but I distinctly remember the violin and their doing “Venus in Furs” because a couple of people in dark outfits got up and started doing a slow dance with a chain in between them… There were maybe thirty people there. It was very late, but it was a memorable experience…”

It seems likely that Stein might be describing this very show (no Nico here), The complete and utter lack of applause might also be because of the small number of people Stein recalls being there. It was 45 years ago, so who knows? (They only played there twice, anyway, April 6 & 7, 1967, the night Stein saw them and either the day before or the day after that)

Below, have a listen to “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore.” I’m totally in love with this song. It’s been criticized elsewhere for being “minor” and “unfinished,” but fuck that noise, this is the bloody Velvet Underground and this groove don’t quit. I wish there was a 19-minute long version of this one, too. Turn it up loud enough that it hits you like a freight train.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Velvet Underground eye test chart


 
A nifty Velvet Underground eye test chart modeled after “the classic eye chart developed by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862” from Etsy shop Waste and Wounded.

It’s selling for $65.00 + shipping.

The Velvet Underground Eye Test Chart

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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.
 

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Kiss the boots of shiny, shiny leather’: The Velvet Underground, live, 1993
10.06.2011
12:54 pm

Topics:

Tags:
Lou Reed
Velvet Underground
John Cale


 
When the 1965-1968 core Velvet Underground lineup of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker reformed for a 1993 European tour, I was excited but worried that a VU reunion couldn’t help but to be a disappointment. I didn’t want to spoil my image of the band, but when the live recordings of the Paris shows (mostly the second evening of a three night stand, a show described by John Cale as a “home run”) was released as Live MCMXCIII, I thought they pulled it off admirably, even if it’s not an album I’d ever think to pull out to play when I felt like listening to the Velvet Underground…

Cale and Reed fell out again during the shows in Europe (which included the Velvets opening for.. U fucking 2?), so a US tour never took place. Fans left distraught to have been shut out of the reunion shows had to satisfy themselves by watching the live concert video taped at L’Olympia. That material is now on YouTube in very good quality. Watch the opening numbers, “Venus in Furs” and “White Light/White Heat,” below:
 

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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