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! 🙂

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‘Let It Be’/Imagine The Art Of John Lennon

I believe I've posted this before, but I just had to post it again 'cause it's so cute! Taken in the Austrian whilst filming 'Help!'...

I believe I’ve posted this before, but I just had to post it again ’cause it’s so cute! Taken in the Austrian whilst filming ‘Help!’…

I wasn’t too sure what to post today, but I have a couple of Beatle-y/Lennon-y happenings to write about, so here goes! Excuse me if this post is a little mish-mashy (not a word, tangerinetrees99 – not a word), but hope you can follow along!

MY BRAND-NEW LET IT BE DVD

As I’m sure I said in my last post, I ordered a Let It Be DVD, and (of course) the day after I posted, it arrived in the mail! It only had to come from Pasadena (a suburb of Adelaide), after all… I should probably note that the disc is a bootleg – as are all DVDs of Let It Be – so tangerinetrees99 was a very naughty girl 🙂 !! As you can see – as it is far from the official Apple Corps-released (well, not in the case of A Hard Day’s Night) reissues of the other Beatles films – it does not come in a fancy glossy-cardboard gatefold, a slip-cover and a booklet. It is only packaged in a very simple plastic case, with a cover which I assume is an amateur’s Photoshop job. It does have its own charm, though! I’ll post some pictures of it below, and then I’ll write about the film itself, which I watched yesterday.

The front cover

The front cover

The side

The side

The back - with a completely-unrelated picture (not that I care!), a list of all the scenes and some incorrect (both grammatically and historically) information on the film

The back – with a completely-unrelated picture (not that I care!), a list of all the scenes and some slightly incorrect (both grammatically and historically) information on the film

The disc

The disc

And as for the film, I actually really enjoyed it! Despite popular belief, The Beatles are not fighting all the time (there is the famous George-and-Paul argument, after which George leaves the band for a few weeks – the latter is obviously not shown, though…), and they do smile at various points in the film. It was amazing to hear them coming up with songs such as ‘Two Of Us’ (I especially dig that electric version), ‘Octopus’s Garden’ (George was very sweet in that scene!) and ‘Across The Universe’ (again, it sounds groovy on John’s slightly-overdrive Epiphone Casino!). Heather McCartney seemed like a very cute little girl, too. And hearing Paul discuss wanting to begin touring again was interesting – John’s reaction to such mentions, too (sure, he was high on heroin at the time, so probably not a fair judgement – but still…). And of course, the Rooftop Concert! I have seen it in full once before (Mum and I YouTubed it back in January for its – *pauses to do maths sum* – forty-fifth anniversary), but last night was the first time I saw it properly, without trying to read lyrics, or wondering what song was which (that afternoon eight months ago was the first time I heard ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘The One After 909’ and ‘Dig A Pony’). I actually heard Paul’s joking end to ‘Get Back’, for example (good one, Paul!)… So to end off, I really liked the film, and whilst probably no-one but hardcore Beatlemaniacs would find it enjoyable (they might enjoy it more than, erm, Magical Mystery Tour), I would certainly recommend it! This household is in order for another Beatles Movie Marathon, I think… 🙂

 

‘IMAGINE THE ART OF JOHN LENNON’ EXHIBITION

Also yesterday, I – along with my parents and my godfather – went to see the John Lennon art exhibit I also talked about last post! It was held at Hanrahan Studios – the former home/studio of prominent Australian artist Barbra Hanrahan, and Summer-house of her widowed partner, Jo Steele (a racing-car driver and sculptor) – which was a very nice venue, I must say. John’s works (or authorised prints of them) were displayed out in the large two-story studio, and there was a rather steady stream of people (whom I would assume are fellow Lennon Lovers) going through the exhibit. And my gosh, was John a talented artist! Most of the exhibition was made up of his gorgeous drawings – some very funny puns (his ‘Owls Hooting’ one, for example), some simple ink drawings of him and Yoko, some completely random yet still beautiful – however some were prints of his handwritten lyrics to certain Beatles/solo songs (i.e. ‘Drive My Car’ – found this interesting, as ‘DMC’ is a Paul song -, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Gimme Some Truth’, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’, ‘Real Love’ and – of course – ‘Imagine’). Oh, and how could I forget – there was a genuinely-signed Beatles picture, too (for $25, 000, mind you)! As you can probably guess, the prints were very expensive, and most of which were somewhat over $1000. However, there were a few unframed prints of his handwritten lyrics to some Milk and Honey songs sitting on the floor, so we brought home a gorgeous print of the lyrics to ‘I’m Stepping Out’! Here is a picture of it below, and here is their website (which I think I posted before) on which you can look at some of the pictures (it won’t let me save images off it, so I can’t put them directly on here).

Here is our print - it will be going in our living room, once the house has been painted. Too expensive to sit on the floor of my bedroom!

Here is our print – it will be going in our living room, once the house has been painted. Too expensive to sit on the floor of my bedroom!

 

So there we go – my post for the week (I will post more in school holidays, I promise)! I ‘spose I should pause ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’ (I’m listening to Beatles For Sale), and publish this. Have a fab day, and good day sunshine! 🙂

 

LOOK WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL YESTERDAY!! (a.k.a. Thank You Mr. Postman Pt. 3)

Here it is - the sacred BluRay!

Here it is – the sacred BluRay!

I was going to post yesterday, about a Lennon-y happening in Adelaide that my mum discovered via her Facebook Newsfeed, but something stopped me from doing so (not that I’m complaining!). My mum was driving me home from school, and was telling me that she had checked our mailbox (which is usually my job, but she had done it earlier that day). I asked her if there was anything for me – I wasn’t expecting her answer, as the expected arrival date (according to Amazon – where I ordered it) for what came was August 4th. So, Mum implied that there was something for me, but it was addressed to her. I quickly clued on – my beautiful A Hard Day’s Night BluRay had landed in our letterbox! I squealed (as you do), and as soon as we arrived home, I ran through the house and found a cardboard box on our dining-room table. I reached into the box, and the above package came out. And that package is now going to receive a bit of a review from me!

THE PACKAGING

The British edition of A Hard Day’s Night – unlike its Australian counterpart – comes in a fancy slip-case, not unlike the ones that come with the official Apple Corps releases of Help! and Yellow Submarine. The words ‘THE BEATLES’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ are embossed, and stick out in comparison to the rest of the box. On the front cover, there is a famous still from the ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ scene, in which they are chased around London. As many people will know, the cover was changed a few times, for which I am glad. If you have not seen the original cover (designed by some graphic design franchise called La Boca), be thankful – it was absolutely ATROCIOUS. But back onto the design that was used – on the back of slip-case, there is – obviously – the blurb, the credits, a list of the nine (nine!) special features and all the jargon-like information to do with the way it appears on the screen. Amongst that, though, is two rows of pictures from the A Hard Day’s Night album-cover photoshoot – however, some of these pictures are outakes that never actually appeared on the cover! Inside the slip-case, there’s nothing special (apart from the disc!) – just a standard BluRay cover, with the same appearance as the case it came in. Sadly, the BluRay does not come with a booklet, like Apple Corps releases of the other Beatles films and the US release of the above, but I don’t really mind. Oh, and the case feels nice, too – it seems almost waxy.

 

THE DISC

Oh my – A Hard Day’s Night in HD; oh my, does it look good! I used to watch AHDN through an unofficial, not-particularly-fabulous quality YouTube video, so seeing it so sharp was quite an experience. And I swear that certain parts of the film were cut out on YouTube, meaning that – despite the fact I have seen the film a good five times – last night was the first time I had seen it in full! I haven’t checked out the special features yet, but they look really good – I especially like the sound of the In Their Own Voices thing (’64 interviews with John, Paul, George and Ringo + behind-the-scenes footage) and the interview with Mark Lewisohn (the author of Tune In – or in other words, a keen Beatleologist). So to sum the above paragraph all up, I thought that film was fab enough the first times I saw it – now that I’ve seen it in HD, I love it even more!

Here some pictures of my copy – excuse the quality, as it is growing dark:

The side

The side

The back of the slip-case

The back of the slip-case

The BluRay case

The BluRay case

Inside the case, where the magic is kept!

Inside the case, where the magic is kept!

So as you can see, I’m very, very, VERY happy with the beautiful A Hard Day’s Night, especially now that I have my own copy (it has been out-of-print Down Under for about ten years)! And if you don’t already have a new remastered copy of this fab film, make sure you get one – you won’t be disappointed!

And as for that Lennon-y happening, there is an art exhibition of official prints of John’s work in Adelaide at the moment 🙂 ! I don’t really have time to write about it now, but I will be visiting in on Saturday thus will write about it then. For now, though, here is the link to their website, and be sure check out the exhibit if you’re a fellow Adelaidean! I knew that Johnny was a talented artist (for goodness’ sake – he went to Art School!), but I never knew he was that good until I saw the pictures on that website. Wow, John – you really were a genius (not that we didn’t all know that already)!

Oh, and I ordered  Let It Be off Ebay last night, so I will soon own all five Beatles films! I am really looking forward to seeing it, though – I know most people would find it depressing and boring (I might find it the former, as the band is falling apart – but I really still want to see it), but it sounds really interesting. And it includes the Rooftop Concert – come on; who doesn’t love that?! Until the weekend, though, good day sunshine from me! 🙂