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The Velvet Underground & Nico’s ‘Scepter Sessions’: Win limited edition vinyl!
01.07.2013
04:00 am
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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
 
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Thank you Adam Starr!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.07.2013
04:00 am
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‘Terry ¡Me va!’: Pre-Velvet Underground Nico in TV brandy ads, 1964
01.02.2013
12:38 pm
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The year on the YouTube uploads says 1970, but these corny Centenario Terry brandy ads, made for Spanish TV, actually date back to 1964.
 

 
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.02.2013
12:38 pm
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Nico performs a solemn version of ‘Genghis Khan’ on French TV, 1979
12.17.2012
06:07 pm
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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!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.17.2012
06:07 pm
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The Velvet Underground Live at The Boston Tea Party, 1969
12.06.2012
03:51 pm
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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

Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.06.2012
03:51 pm
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Willie ‘Loco’ Alexander: The greatest rocker ever to fail at being in The Velvet Underground
08.28.2012
08:31 pm
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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”:

Posted by Amber Frost
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08.28.2012
08:31 pm
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I’m Not a Young Man Anymore: Velvet Underground rarity, live in 1967
08.07.2012
02:19 pm
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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.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.07.2012
02:19 pm
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Velvet Underground eye test chart
07.16.2012
11:08 am
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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

Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.16.2012
11:08 am
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The Velvet Underground: Under Review (full film)
12.05.2011
11:36 am
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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
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12.05.2011
11:36 am
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‘Kiss the boots of shiny, shiny leather’: The Velvet Underground, live, 1993
10.06.2011
03:54 pm
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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:
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.06.2011
03:54 pm
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Mashup: Velvet Underground / Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - “Venus in Furs” / “Ain’t No Mountain”
10.01.2011
08:28 pm
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Here’s one from the Dangerous Minds archives.

This wonderful mashup had languished in anonymity until we discovered it back in April of 2010. It has since gone viral.

As I said back then: “It takes a special kind of genius to put these artists together and make it work.” It’s the creation of Joey Propellor.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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10.01.2011
08:28 pm
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‘Janitor Of Lunacy’: Nico performs on French TV, 1972
08.15.2011
03:58 pm
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Nico interviewed on French television’s Pop 2 program in 1972. She performs solo versions of “Janitor Of Lunacy” and “You Forgot To Answer” accompanying herself on her harmonium. The Pop 2 show also presented the famous VU “reunion” concert at the Le Bataclan nightclub that same year with Nico, John Cale and Lou Reed.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Velvet Underground Live: ‘Symphony in Sound’

Nico: Remembering the Icon

‘The Inner Scar’: Obscure and Pretentious French Art Film Starring Nico (1972)

VU Reunion: Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico on French TV, 1972

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.15.2011
03:58 pm
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Eating Raoul: An Evening With Mary Woronov
06.08.2011
07:28 pm
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Actress/artist Mary Woronov has had a singular career that begins dancing with the Velvet Underground and appearing in Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls. Along the way she was in Rock-n- Roll High School, Death Race 2000 and Eating Raoul. She’ll be will be making a special appearance this Thursday night, June 9th, at 7:30p.m. at Cinefamily in Los Angeles:

Not every actor can list both Warhol films and “Murder, She Wrote” in their CV—oh, wait, no actor can claim that but Mary Woronov. There is a cult of M.V., and it’s richly deserved; her performances are so distinct and unique that her mere onscreen presence sharpens each image, and gives every scene a B12 shot in the rear. To admire Mary’s work is to get deeply involved, like you would with a new favorite band: once you’re introduced, you’re hooked, and have to track down every last appearance. She is smart, she is hilarious, she is sexy, and she can convey everything from knife-edge danger to warm familiarity with a single look. Beyond her voluminous career in film and TV, she’s also a painter, a novelist, a a dancer, a college professor—in short, a superstar. Join us in a spirited on-stage discussion with Mary, as we weave a web taking us from her days as a member of Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable, to her stint on a network soap, her award-winning stage work, the Corman years, her kinship with Paul Bartel and beyond!

At 9p.m. there will be a 35mm screening of the classic black comedy Eating Raoul:

“You really get to like Paul and Mary, and want them to succeed, even if they do have to kill some perverts along the way.”—J. Read, Monsters At Play

An outlandish mixture of ‘50s-themed high camp, ‘70s Robert Downey, Sr.-style bizarro satire and ‘80s gross-out sex romp, the indie hit Eating Raoul is Cult Film Director Hall Of Famer Paul Bartel’s finest hour. Bartel and Mary Woronov star as a sexually conservative couple (“Paul” and “Mary”, natch) who, after they need quick cash to open their dream restaurant, devise an makeshift S&M operation to lure rich horndogs to their deaths. Beyond its savagely funny swipes at the Sexual Revolution (featuring squads of lecherous swingers, all whacked out like Mr. Farley from “Three’s Company” on PCP), the film is as much a love letter to our city as a prime Cheech & Chong vehicle, for it’s crammed full of nutty local characters and enough unmistakably L.A. locales to fill an entire season of Huell Howser specials. Woronov easily steamrolls over the film’s population of wackos and sleazoids with aplomb; with her distinct mixture of understated deadpan comedy, soft sensuality and no-bullshit ingenuity, Mary’s radiant heat has ensured that Eating Raoul remains a “classic cult classic.” (Rob Lineberger, DVD Verdict).

Get tickets here.
 

 
Below, the (great) trailer for the outlandish cult classic Eating Raoul:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.08.2011
07:28 pm
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DREAMWEAPON: Exclusive MP3 download from original Velvet Underground drummer Angus MacLise
05.12.2011
01:42 pm
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I blogged here on Tuesday about the amazing looking Angus MacLise show currently on display at the Boo-Hooray gallery space in New York City. I’ve been told the opening party was amazing, with Lou Reed and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge in attendance.

Tonight, at Anthology Film Archives, as part of that exhibit, there will be a special screening of Ira Cohen’s powerfully strange lysergic druidic-hippie odyssey The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda with a soundtrack by MacLise.

Also included in the line-up this evening is the premiere of the late Ira Cohen’s Heavy Canon (also with an Angus MacLise soundtrack), early 70s video work by Marty Topp and three films by Piero Heliczer.

Exclusive for Dangerous Minds readers, you can download the full unreleased soundtrack to Ira Cohen’s The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda (as remastered by Tim Barnes in 2006) with music by Angus MacLise and the Universal Mutant Repertory Co. here.

Below, a clip from Ira Cohen’s The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda. Buy the limited edition DVD at the Boo-Hooray webstore.
 

 
Thank you Jeff Newelt!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.12.2011
01:42 pm
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Velvet Underground documentary from 1986 puts it all together in a nice package
02.14.2011
04:57 am
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Originally broadcast in 1986 in the UK, The South Bank Show’s Velvet Underground documentary was directed by Kim Evans with the help of Mary Harron. It contains interviews with Lou, John, Sterling, Moe, Nico, Warhol and lots of early Velvet performance footage, including stuff shot by Jonas Mekas. For hardcore Velvet fans none of this will be new, but isn’t it nice to have it compiled in a visually pleasing package? And for the casual VU fan, this is essential.

John Cale: “The only reason we wore sunglasses on stage was because we couldn’t stand the sight of the audience.”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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02.14.2011
04:57 am
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Their Last Tour: The Velvet Underground - Live in Paris, 1993
01.16.2011
06:32 pm
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In June 1993, Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker kicked-off their official (sans Nico, who had died in 1988) Velvet Underground reunion tour with two nights at the Playhouse Theater, in Edinburgh. There had been rumors of a VU reunion for years, and these rumors slowly became real after Reed and Cale had successfully toured with Songs for Drella - their musical collaboration celebrating the life of Andy Warhol.

From their opening gig in Scotland, The Velvet Underground then played London, before taking their show to Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Switzerland, and Italy, where the tour finished on 9 July. During the tour, they also gave a headline grabbing performance at the Glastonbury Festival, and had a WTF? moment when they supported U2 for five dates.

The VU reunion was so successful that an American tour was planned, and a showcase on MTV Unplugged… was all but booked. However, before any of this happened, Reed and Cale fell out and all plans were shelved.  In 1995, Sterling Morrison died. The following year, the VU were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Reed, Cale and Tucker reformed the Velvet Underground for the last time.

This footage is from the Velvet Underground’s performance at the L’Olympia, Paris, in June 1993.
 

 
More VU, ‘Femme Fatale’ and ‘Waiting for the Man’, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.16.2011
06:32 pm
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