Review of a Recent Release: ‘The Velvet Underground’ 45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (CD format)

The album in question. Definitely worth purchasing if you love the VU!

The album in question. Definitely worth purchasing if you love the VU!

Today I thought I would do a non-Beatley post (don’t worry — I’ll go back to my usual muses next post!) centering around the most recent re-release of one of my other favourite band’s four albums. And that band, you ask? Why, the Velvet Underground!

If you have never heard of the Velvet Underground, they are a highly influential band from 1960s New York. Whilst they were barely known at the time when the band was still together, they are now recognised as one of the most innovative bands ever (especially in the punk and indie genres). The band consisted of Lou Reed (vocals, guitar), John Cale (electric viola, piano, bass — among other things), Sterling Morrison (guitar) and Maureen Tucker (drums/percussion). John Cale — despite being one of the two founding members — was kicked out of the band by Lou Reed and replaced with Doug Yule.

The Velvet Underground is the Velvets’ penultimate album, preceded by the Andy Warhol-produced masterpiece The Velvet Underground and Nico (which featured German singer/musician/actress/model Nico on vocals for four tracks) and the protopunk White Light/White Heat, and followed by the more commercial Loaded. It was the band’s first group minus John Cale, and is particularly known for influencing indie bands in later years. Two of its better-known tracks include ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and ‘Candy Says’.

This year, the album celebrates its 45th birthday. As with all the other Velvet Underground albums, The Velvet Underground was re-released on its 45th anniversary in both a ‘deluxe’  format (a double-disc CD with a booklet) and a super deluxe format (the very-expensive six-disc package with an actual book, also being available on vinyl). My mum and I were in JB Hi-Fi (the big entertainment shop in Australia — I don’t like the place nearly as much as I like the second-hand record stores and indie retailers littered around Adelaide, but if the place sells music, what is there — asides from cash — to lose?!) the other day and I discovered the deluxe CD hidden between a VU best-of and Loaded. It became one of the many CDs we have bought at that place within about a week… 😉

The two discs and booklet come nicely packaged in a matte-finish three-way-gatefold CD case. The front cover is identical to the original release (excepting a translucent sticker running across the bottom reading ‘DELUXE EDITION’), however, the back is only the tracklisting/credits in a fairly stock standard font on a fairly stock standard background (still looks effective, though.) The gatefold features images of the original tape labels (underneath the two discs) and a picture of the band recording the album. The booklet slides nicely into the middle slip of the gatefold (on top of the latter image). It discusses the background, making and success of the album, and –separated by more pictures of the band — also the live aspect of The Velvets. I found the packaging really appealing; the inclusion of a booklet and the three-way gatefold reminds me of the packaging of the 2009 stereo (Beatles — did you really need to ask?) remasters!

And as for the discs themselves…Disc One is the album itself. But there are two mixes of the album! The one used in the deluxe edition is the better-known ‘Val Valentin’ mix, mixed by the MGM/Verve recording engineer of the same name, but Lou Reed also created another mix highlighting his parts (Sterling Morrison later nicknamed this the ‘Closet’ mix). Whilst I’ve heard plenty of tracks from White Light/White Heat and Loaded (plus the entirety of The Velvet Underground and Nico), the only song from this album I’d heard from this album prior was ‘Pale Blue Eyes’. I really enjoyed the album itself, my favourite songs being ‘Candy Says’ and ‘What Goes On’.

However, my favourite part of the album was the second disc! The second disc featured live recordings of The Velvets at a venue called The Matrix (somewhere in New York??) on the 26th and 27th of November, 1969. Apart from alternate versions from the album tracks (the live version of ‘What Goes On’ is awesome!), this disc also includes live versions of songs like ‘Heroin’ and ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, and even songs which would be later released on Loaded, like ‘Sweet Jane’ and ‘Rock & Roll’. There is also a very entertaining segue-way from Lou Reed… This disc was really amazing to listen to, and definitely worth any VU fan’s time!

Here are some pictures I took of our copy:

The front

The front

The back

The back

One CD and an image found on the back of the right slip of the gatefold

One CD and an image found on the back of the right slip of the gatefold

The casing fully open, with the CDs and booklet intact

The casing fully open, with the CDs and booklet intact

The CDs and booklet

The CDs and booklet

The empty casing

The empty casing

And yeah, I know it’s cliche, but I’ll give the The Velvet Underground: 45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition a five out of five. The packaging is really attractive, and the music is about ten times better!

And Ringo is going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! When I heard this, I was actually quite shocked that the guy who’s usually credited with inventing modern rock drumming wasn’t already in the Hall of Fame, but at least he is being inducted now… I believe Paul is inducting him, as well (just like he did for John!). So although you’re obviously not reading this, congratulations Ringo! You deserve that spot.

And this weekend, ‘My Beatles Record Collection’ returns! See if you can guess what record comes next… But until then, good day sunshine! 🙂

John and Paul: The David Bailey Photoshoot

 

Here's some Beatles street-art I found in Town - in a little alleyway off Rundle Street, next to a Beatnik-ish record shop and the Palace Nova cinema, if you know Adelaide.

Here’s some Beatles street-art I found in Town – in a little alleyway off Rundle Street, next to a Beatnik-ish record shop and the Palace Nova cinema, if you know Adelaide.

(A close-up.) Sadly, some person decided to vandalise poor Paul, John and Ringo - at least they left George alone!

(A close-up.) Sadly, some person decided to vandalise poor Paul, John and Ringo – at least they left George alone!

 

Hey Jude/Bulldog/everyone reading this,

Today is my last day of school holidays – 😦 – and I’m wearing my Yellow Submarine t-shirt, plus listening to Mind Games for the first time. I know many people aren’t huge fans of John’s 1973 release, but I really like it, so far! Thanks, Johnny. But anyway, I wasn’t too sure what to do today (I have a big list of potential posts written up, which I consult when I don’t know what to do – however, there are TOO MANY ideas!), so – as you can probably guess after reading my bracket-enclosed notes – I consulted my list. And I found this idea! As many people reading this will know, David Bailey is a famous photographer from the 1960s, who’s done people such as Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, Kate Moss, Jude Law, Oasis (those copycats!) and Bill Wyman (yes, they’re all either models or Rolling Stones – except for Jude Law and Oasis – but Google isn’t being very helpful). And being such a famous photographer, it’s only natural that he photographed the best songwriting duo in the history of the world (in my opinion, anyway…)! On the twenty-first of January, 1965, these beautiful shots of John and Paul were taken in Bailey’s London studio. Bailey has famously said that he dislikes The Beatles (apparently The Stones are a-gazillion times better, according to him – I’m obviously on The Beatles’ side, but I like The Stones, too), and has called John a ‘f**ker’ and Paul ‘the nicest guy in the world’ (sarcastically, I assume) in recent interviews, so I didn’t think too much of him at first. But he is a very talented photographer, and has taken some of the best John/Paul pictures ever (and an incredible amount for someone who apparently hates The Beatles), so I’ll ignore his views. So here we are – enjoy!

 

John and Paul, together

Don't they look gorgeous? John looks very attractive in these photos!

Don’t they look gorgeous? John looks very attractive in these photos!

I love the hands in this one - I'm re-doing my bedroom at the moment, and I'm going to print out a couple of these 'proof-sheets' to put up, somewhere. This is going to be one of them!

I love the hands in this one – I’m re-doing my bedroom at the moment, and I’m going to print out a couple of these ‘proof-sheets’ to put up, somewhere. This is going to be one of them!

Slightest bit of tension here, but that seems to disappear...

Slightest bit of tension here, but that seems to disappear…

I think everyone knows this picture - this is the main focus of my gorgeous JL/PM tee, which I now know is a David Bailey proof-sheet! McLennon believers also seem to think that this photo proves that John and Paul were secret lovers - hmm...

I think everyone knows this picture – this is the main focus of my gorgeous JL/PM tee, which I now know is a David Bailey proof-sheet! McLennon believers also seem to think that this photo proves that John and Paul were secret lovers – hmm…

It's hard to explain what I feel when I see this - it just conveys this unspoken understanding and closeness between the two. Maybe I'm just reading too far into things, but does anyone else feel the same?

It’s hard to explain what I feel when I see this – it just conveys this unspoken understanding and closeness between the two. Maybe I’m just reading too far into things, but does anyone else feel the same?

 

Just John

 

Oh my, John - oh my! I officially proclaim John Winston Lennon the most attractive man to have ever lived! :-)

Oh my, John – oh my! I officially proclaim John Winston Lennon the most attractive man to have ever lived! 🙂

Standing up with perfect posture!

Standing up with perfect posture!

Not-perfect-posture this time, but what does that matter?!

Not-perfect-posture this time, but what does that matter?!

 

Just Paul

 

Paul looks good in a kaftan! Must have had a change of clothes...

Paul looks good in a kaftan! Must have had a change of clothes…

Paul with a ladder!

Paul with a ladder! Can’t really imagine him being handy, but then, I can’t do that with John, George or Ringo, either!

This is supposedly taken by Bailey, but I've never seen it before (not that necessarily means anything). It does look Bailey-esque, though, so I'll trust the website I sourced it from...

This is supposedly taken by Bailey, but I’ve never seen it before (not that necessarily means anything). It does look Bailey-esque, though, so I’ll trust the website I sourced it from…

 

Oh, and…

 

Aww! :-)

Aww! 🙂

 

So there you have it – David Bailey’s photos of John and Paul in a nutshell (that cliché’s getting old, tangerinetrees99), if you like!

Oh, and if you live in the UK (not sure if I’ve got any UK readers), today’s the day to go rushing out to buy A Hard Day’s Night! And talking of AHDN, GUESS WHAT SHIPPED ON SATURDAY?!?! Sorry – bad grammar – but I think that announcement is worthy of capitals! It shipped a few days early (I thought it would ship today), and the expected arrival date is next Monday. Look out for a ‘Thank You Mr. Postman’ post, but somehow, I expect it might be titled ‘GUESS WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL?!?!?!’ ! I’ll do a review on the BluRay, too, so it won’t be too much fangirling.

Something Beatle-y came in the mail today, too – a Beatles clock that I ordered off Etsy, after seeing it in Melbourne back a couple of weeks ago! I won’t do a ‘TYMP’ post, ‘cos a) I need to assemble the clock hands, and b) it’s not original 1960s memorabilia (as everything else I’ve posted about is), but here’s a picture:

clock

Oh, and on Friday, I’m going to a Beatles tribute called the White Album Concert! Four renowned Aussie musos (Chris Cheney, Phil Jamieson, Tim Rodgers and Josh Pyke) are coming together to tour around Australia singing The Beatles – a.k.a. The White Album – in full (including, erm, ‘Revolution #9’)! I believe that they’ve already done their Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney dates, and that their shows in Canberra and here – Adelaide – are sold out (we got presale tickets back in April!), but if you live in Woollongong (a place in New South Wales, if you’re not familiar with Australia) or Perth, you can still get seats. For those of you that live elsewhere (nationally or internationally), you can read all about the show plus buy their CD from their 2009 tour here (you can also buy the tickets if you – by chance – live in one of the above places). I’ll be sure to write up on it on Saturday!

So have a lovely rest of your day, and good day sunshine! 🙂