Look, if you dig the Velvet Underground, you might also like
the Righteous Brothers or the Cowsills!
I mean, hey, what can you say about the Velvet Underground and ‘Heroin’ what h’ain’t been said already?
Not much, as it turns out, aside from some Iron Leg-gy boilerplate reminding you all (and myself to a certain extent) about how important they were to folks like me, coming up in the 80s.
Next to the 13th Floor Elevators, Love, Nick Drake and Big Star, all of whom saw an underground renaissance of sorts during the first days of the alterna-boom, before it was co-opted and diluted (and shat upon, etc etc etc), The Velvet Underground were a heavy, heavy sound for me.
And I don’t say that lightly. Much like the Beatles were for me as a much younger kid, I can probably run through their albums in my head, note for note and when I spin the records, still discover some new things.
The weird thing is, because of my age, I was familiar with Lou Reed– and as it turns out, a number of VU songs – before I had any idea who they were.
I offer up this tune today, partly as a periodic refresher as to their amazingness, but also to show you this crazy record.
I’ve seen some inexplicable “greatest hits” albums, but this one really kind of bends the mind, because not only didn’t the VU have any “hits”, they could almost be considered having gone in the opposite direction, creating noisy, abrasive anti-hits, then dropping the mic and going off to slouch in the corner.
Whether this was some insider’s attempt to reinvigorate the VU (this was released in 1970, while they had passed out of Calesville and into Yule City), or just a weird contractual obligation in an attempt to recoup losses, I cannot say.
What I can tell you is that it is a really good, well-considered compilation of the band’s MGM stuff, encompassing melodic/tuneful ish like ‘Jesus’ (my all-time fave), ‘Femme Fatale’ and ‘Sunday Morning’, and noisy stuff like ‘White Light White Heat’ and the stark dirge of ‘Heroin’.
If you’re going to whip a one-LP comp of the VU on the kids, this is a pretty good way to do it.
So (re)listen to it, savor it, and crank up the volume at the end to dig that this is a slightly different mix of the song, with the sound at the end of someone putting something down/hitting something being louder/longer than the original LP mix (mighty small potatoes, I know, but interesting nonetheless).
Dig it, and I’ll see you next week.