Velvet Underground: New box set FINALLY releases legendary scorching live material from 1969
02:26 pm
Velvet Underground: New box set FINALLY releases legendary scorching live material from 1969

You would think that by now—after fifty years—the cupboard would be getting pretty bare when it comes to unreleased Velvet Underground material, but that’s simply not the case. Despite the incredible amount of material made available for the first time on legit releases in recent years via UMe’s Super Deluxe packages, there is still even more to come. And not just a little, but a lot of primo vintage VU white light, white heat recorded in high fidelity.

First off, the Super Deluxe Loaded is out on October 30th, but on that very same day Polydor will be released something VU fans have been salivating over for years, a four CD box set of The Matrix Tapes. Forty-two songs were known to exist, recorded during the Matrix run on 4-track half-inch open reel tape running at 15ips and this will be the first release of all of these live recordings (many were included on the 1969 Live double album and the Super Deluxe set of the third VU album). Samples of the songs (which fade out midway) have been seen on bootleg torrent trackers and audio blogs for years and the quality was known to be very, very high. The story that circulated about them is that the original audio engineer who taped them sold the physical tapes to an Italian collector, who we can presume made a deal with the label to put it out.

Velvet Underground historian Richie Unterberger writes:

Two-to-three-minute excerpts of nine of these tracks and a seven-minute excerpt of “Sister Ray”—all starting at the beginning of the songs, and fading out mid-performance—that have leaked into circulation verify that the sound quality on these recordings is outstanding, and notably (though not hugely) superior to the tapes used on 1969 Velvet Underground Live. Of even more interest, the performances themselves are good-to-superb, including a version of the rarely-heard “There She Goes Again” with noticeably more jagged rhythm guitar than the studio cut; “I’m Set Free” with magnificent Reed lead vocals; a really slowed-down “I’m Waiting for the Man” with great curling blues guitar riffing, and a cool interjection of ominously stroked chords right after the white boy’s asked what he’s doing uptown; and a “Sister Ray” that starts off super-slow and bluesy, but just keeps accelerating in rhythm and intensity until the tape cruelly cuts off. If not quite as novel, the other excerpts—including “Ocean,” “Some Kinda Love” (introduced as “an alcoholic’s dream”), “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” “After Hours,” and two versions of “Venus in Furs”—likewise make the Velvet Underground fan yearn for the day when these tapes can be released.

And now they will be. The thing that pisses me off is that they have gorgeous multitrack recordings of the freaking Velvet Underground playing live, so why didn’t they do a surround mix???

Here’s The Matrix Tapes tracklist, the box’s four CDs represent four sets:

CD1 – Set One:
01 I’m Waiting For The Man (Version 1) (14:06)
02 What Goes On (Version 1) (8:58)
03 Some Kinda Love (Version 1) (4:59)
04 Heroin (Version 1) (8:13)
05 The Black Angel’s Death Song (6:20)
06 Venus In Furs (Version 1) (4:38)
07 There She Goes Again (Version 1) (3:08)
08 We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together (Version 1) (3:16)
09 Over You (Version 1) (2:24)
10 Sweet Jane (Version 1) (5:12)
11 Pale Blue Eyes (6:08)
12 After Hours (Version 1) (2:58)

CD2 – Set Two:
01 I’m Waiting For The Man (Version 2)
02 Venus In Furs (Version 2) (5:16)
03 I Can’t Stand It (Version 1) (7:54)
04 There She Goes Again (Version 2) (2:54)
05 Some Kinda Love (Version 2) (4:12)
06 Over You (Version 2) (3:07)
07 After Hours (Version 2) (2:37)
08 We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together (Version 2) (3:42)
09 Sweet Bonnie Brown/Too Much (7:54)
10 Heroin (Version 2) (10:08)
11 White Light/White Heat (Version 1) (9:30)
12 I’m Set Free (4.48)

CD3 – Set Three:
01 We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together (Version 3) (3:18)
02 Some Kinda Love (Version 3) (4:40)
03 There She Goes Again (Version 3) (3:02)
04 Heroin (Version 3) (8:34)
05 Ocean (11:03)
06 Sister Ray (37.08)

CD4 – Set Four
01 I’m Waiting For The Man (Version 3) (5:31)
02 What Goes On (Version 2) (4:34)
03 Some Kinda Love (Version 4) (4:46)
04 We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together (Version 4) (3:26)
05 Beginning To See The Light (5:42)
06 Lisa Says (6:05)
07 New Age (6:41)
08 Rock And Roll (6.58)
09 I Can’t Stand It (Version 2) (6:54)
10 Heroin (Version 4) (8:18)
11 White Light /White Heat (Version 2) (8:45)
12 Sweet Jane (Version 2) (4:20)

Posted by Richard Metzger
02:26 pm



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