Wednesday 13 June 2018

One Chord Is Fine, Two Chords Are Pushing It. Three Chords And You're Into Jazz

For anybody coming of age from the 1990s onwards it will be difficult to understand that even if you were aware of a band it was still not that easy to get to hear them. You really only had fabulous  Radio 1 to listen to and then only in the evenings or on a Saturday if you wanted to hear anything that wasn't chart fodder or big hits from yesteryear. So when I saw the Velvet Underground being name checked in all the music papers in relation to the Jesus and Mary Chain it was very frustrating that I couldn't actually get to bloody hear what they sounded like. I knew of Lou Reed  due to the Bowie link and of course had heard Perfect Day and Walk On The Wild Side but I hadn't knowingly heard any Velvet Underground records and none of the albums were to be found in our local Menzies or Woolies, all were out of print in 1985 anyway. So it was back to the tried and tested method of asking friends with older brothers if they had any and two came up trumps, big Mil and the elder brother of the best friend of the girl I was kicking about with back in 1985,  who would later play with the BMX Bandits. Both these guys were devotees of Edwyn Collins, Postcard and all that scene. Big Mil gave me a tape with the first Velvet Underground album and of course I was hooked immediately. From Willie I got a weird US Garage compilation which is a long time lost but contained the Velvets, Love, Stooges, Kim Fowley amongst many others that over the years I have sought out.

As I have said before I ended up getting the first two Velvets albums from a friend who like me had seen them being mentioned in the music mags and on his next annual trip to Florida bought both but when playing them decided that they were not for him. This was obvious to me as he always came back from these trips with loads of tapes he had recorded over there of the local Orlando FM radio station which were mostly as bland as that sounds although I did first hear REM on one of these tapes. From then on I picked up whatever I could when I could find it and have pretty much everything officially released and quite a lot of unofficial things which range in quality from soundboard to literally being recorded from inside the guitar amp, the quality of which you can probably guess at. Original copies of the 5 Verve/MGM singles have always been way out of my price range but I did manage to get the box set when it was released in 2009 which although not brilliant is well worth having.

If I could only have one Velvets release then it would have to be the Complete Matrix Tapes box that came out in 2015 even though this is not the original line-up, I think that on these four discs you get the Velvets at their very very best.

Posted below are four different versions of my very favourite Velvet Underground song.

The Velvet Underground - Lisa Says (VU version)

The Velvet Underground - Lisa Says (2014 mix)

The Velvet Underground - Lisa Says (Live At The Matrix)

The Velvet Underground - Lisa Says (Demo version)


Swiss Adam said...

Nice one Drew, totally comprehensive Lisa Says post. Its funny to think of the VU's albums being out of print in the mid 80s.

Brian said...

I bought Velvet Underground and Nico when I was 15 or 16 based on a small write-up in Rolling Stone as part of a best albums list. I had not heard a note. Sunday Morning and I'm Waiting for the Man were perfect first songs to take in, but after that, it started to become a challenge to my young ears, particularly when Nico chimed in. It wasn't a disaster, but I just plain wasn't ready. By college, I was hooked. I wonder what happened to that giant banana poster I had hanging in my apartment during those years? I listened to all four versions of Lisa Says just now. What a treat!