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The Velvet Underground

28 Ratings: 3.5
A rock band from New York

Formed: 1964 in New York, NY   Years Active: 60 's, 70 's, 90 's   Genre: ROCK      Few rock groups can claim to have broken so much new territory, and maintain such consistent brilliance on record, … see full wiki

Genre: Rock
1 review about The Velvet Underground

A band that inspired many a musican and created an all new sound.

  • Oct 7, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
The Velvet Underground was a band that was founded by Lou Reed ( a former studio musician and songwriter) John Cale (a Welsh music student), Sterling Morrison and Angus Maclise.  The band performed under several different names such as The Warlocks and The Falling Spikes.  Reed, Morrison and Cale worked on several demo tracks (which can be found on the Peel Slowly and See box set).  Maclise left the band after the accepted an offer for a paying gig and was replaced by Maureen Tucker (Maclise would briefly return for a few gigs when Reed was laid up in a hospital with Hepatitis when Tucker would move to Bass).  Tucker also added a new dimension to the group's sound by playing the drums very unconventionally, without peddles and trash cans.

The band played in small clubs before being discovered by Gerald Malanga who would later on tell Andy Warhol,  Warhol loved the band and agreed to became the resident band in his "Factory", introduced Nico to the band, managed and helped them get a record contract with Verve.  During the production, Warhol was the "producer" and gave the band free rein in the studio.  The music they created was very unusual and the songs were about topics that were considered taboo in pop music (i.e. drug addicts, heroin and speed usage, sadomasochism, insanity).  The album didn't chart very high and the growing tension between Cale and Reed was starting to rear it's ugly head.  During the recording of the second album "White Light/White Heat" the tension was temporary quelled but it would surface soon enough.  The two egos were too much and one of them had to go,

Reed told Morrison and Tucker that if Cale didn't leave then he would dissolve the band.  Warhol wasn't managing the band anymore, Cale was kicked out and replaced by Doug Yule.  The band also started to sound more like a conventional rock band with Yule on board.  The band's third album (the self titled Velvet Underground) was more pop sounding and commercialy appealing. But pop chart success one again eluded the band.  Verve declined to keep the band after the third album.  The studio was clearing out all of the "drug" bands and The Velvet Underground was looking for a new label.

Reed and company signed up with Atlantic to a two album deal.  Reed, Yule and Morrison (Maureen Tucker was out on maternity leave) recorded the album Loaded (i.e. he felt the album was loaded with hits) and left the band a month before it was released.  Yule, Tucker, Morrison along with a new bass player Walter Powers toured to promote the newly released Loaded.  When the tour ended, Morrison quit the band to pursue a teaching career and was replaced by keyboard player Willie Alexander.  After a successful tour of England, Yule recorded a fifth Velvet Underground album (Squeeze) by himself with only Ian Paice, a session musician and a female background singer.  There were a few delays in releasing the album and Yule (with a new band) toured England once again to promote the unreleased album.  Tired of touring under the name The Velvet Underground, he was talked to into performing as it one last time with his brother Billy on drums, George Kay on Bass and Don Silverman on guitar.

Lou Reed would officially reunite the original line-up in 1992 (without Doug Yule) and they practiced for a European tour in 1993.  A proposed US tour and a spot on MTV's Unplugged was in the offering but Cale and Reed and another falling out putting an end to any of those plans.  Sadly the band would reunite one more time without Sterling Morrison at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.  The three surviving members played a tribute song to their deceased band mate. 

The Velvet Underground wasn't a financially successful band or a real popular mainstream one but their music influenced many young up and coming musicians and bands with their unconventional sound.
Many of the punks in the US and the UK were inspired by the band as well.  One of my favorite bands and all of their lineups produced some amazing music.  Check out their music and enjoy!

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October 23, 2009
I used to love VU and forgot about them for like a year until recently - so glad I remembered! Have you ever checked out Lou Reed's (and I believe John Cale's, too...) first band, The Primitives? Not to be confused with the 80s/90s band by the same name...anyway, the stuff is pretty rare but if you can track it down its AWESOME!
October 23, 2009
I have the Primitives first single on MP3 along with the lost Velvet Underground album "Squeeze". I'll send you a copy on CD if you like. Doug Yule is so underrated and he sounds a lot like Lou Reed and he plays all the instruments on the album (except some drum parts),
October 24, 2009
Which single? Please tell me it's "Sneaky Pete"? Love that song. I think I can grab it on iTunes (everyone I know loves giving those gift certificates for holidays!), but thanks for the offer!!!
 
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