Phil Milstein started THE VELVET UNDERGROUND APPRECIATION SOCIETY in 1977, a time when several of the band’s albums were out of print and when they had nothing quite near the cultural caché they have today.
Dynamite Hemorrhage #3 interviews Mr. Milstein about VUAS and his interactions with the band members themselves. Why, it’s our cover story, in fact.
You can order it directly from Forced Exposure here.
Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio survived the turning of the annum, and welcomes those of you who made it with us to 2016 w/ a collection of bonkers sub-underground rocknroll from the last five decades.
New stuff! UV-TV(pictured here), SEX TIDE, THE WORLD, THE STACHES, RAYS, COOLIES, DR. IDENTITY and many more. Reissues/unearthings! THE GIRLS, MARS and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND! Stuff from our extensive mp3 collection! THE ELECTRONIC HOLE, DIRT SHIT, ALASTAIR GALBRAITH and even KILLDOZER. And that’s not all.
UV-TV – Lilith THE WORLD – Last Rhodesian RAYS – Pain and Sorrow THE COOLIES – Phony DR. IDENTITY – Pet THE VIBRARIANS – Red Light THE GIRLS – Any Other Way It Could Be Different ALASTAIR GALBRAITH – My Bottom Line BACK MAGIC – In The Garden MARS – Big Bird (live) VELVET UNDERGROUND – After Hours (Version 2, Live at the Matrix) DETECTIVE AGENCY – Daggers HONEY RADAR – Lilac Pharmacy THE STACHES – King on the Edge THE ELECTRONIC HOLE – The Golden Hour, Part III THE STEREO SHOESTRING – On The Road South SEX TIDE – Neighborhood Safe Space DIRT SHIT – Exit KILLDOZER – Hamburger Martyr
This is one of those listening “projects” of mine that lie in a netherworld somewhere between pure entertainment enjoyment and painstaking scholarly research. It’s one that I’ve been eager to “tackle” for some time. I finally got around to active listening of all three of the heralded VELVET UNDERGROUND“Quine Tapes” discs in their entirety this past week, and like just about everyone else who’s heard them, I am very, very impressed. The Velvet Underground come away from the experience sitting in the fabled catbird seat for all-time great rock bands, right where they were perched a week ago.
The word on the street was that these were the very best of the Velvet Underground live tapes out there, far too good to only circulate on bootlegs, and deserving of a proper release. In October 2001, Polydor Records did just that. I have to agree that they’re among the best I’ve ever heard, up there with “Sweet Sister Ray” and “The Legendary Guitar Amp Tape” and some of the great rehearsal material that surfaced on the “Peel Slowly And See” box set. What makes these CDs special is that this is truly the Velvet Underground at their unadorned, most rocking best, not subject to anyone’s agenda for track listing or to shoddy recording techniques (though Robert Quine’s tapes are a bit RAW). It’s really just one young law student and a tape recorder, taping up his #1 favorite band like the seer, visionary and public servant he was.
In researching this collection on the World Wide Web, I read a couple of instructive reviews that capture some good insights on the set. This is from Jonathan Moscowitz in the New York Press:
“Quine’s tapes were made right before the Velvets went into the studio to record Loaded, an experience so negative it made Reed quit the band and move back home to Long Island. You can hear that sound foreshadowed in the versions of “It’s Just Too Much,” “Ride into the Sun” and “Follow the Leader” offered here. Good-natured and bouncy, they show off Reed’s love of old-school rock ’n’ roll and Sterling Morrison’s effortless rhythm work. At the other end of the spectrum sit the old Factory-era chestnuts “Venus in Furs” and “The Black Angel’s Death Song.” In their original incarnations both these songs were built around Cale’s heavily droning viola, and it’s instructive to hear how well the band evokes the junky creepiness of their first album without him.”
These shows were recorded in late 1969 at a large hall (The Family Dog) and a small club (The Matrix) in San Francisco, as well as the basketball gym at Washington University in St. Louis, thus illuminating the band in both spacious and intimate environs. There appear to be some extremely small, uninterested crowds in attendance, and the sets, as Moscovitz says, lean heavily to “Loaded” and third album material. There’s also a few big eye-openers: “Follow The Leader”, long considered a “lost” and highly sought-after VU song, is probably not worth much further hype as it’s a middling chugger that goes on about 10 minutes too long, clocking in at a robust 17:05. Yet nothing compares to the not one, not two, but THREE wholly unique versions of “Sister Ray”, one sitting on each disc.
You really think the Velvet Underground were the antithesis of the hippie scene? This set gives one pause. Rather than coming in blazing with posturing and standoffish black-leather New York hipster ‘tude, the Velvets instead adapted to their San Francisco environs quite well, and cranked out lengthy instrumental passages that sound like any typical free- form band of the period (just better). Quine says of the November 7-9th 1969 shows, “The first weekend, at the Family Dog, it was basically just a bunch of hippies there. They brought their tambourines, harmonicas, and were playing along. I made tapes of that stuff that came out very well. It was a large place, so they could really turn up the amps. The versions of “Sister Ray” are especially terrific if you’re willing to smoke a fat doob and sit back and feeeeeel them. Built around one of the all-time great riffs, the song has so many different piece parts that it’s really 12 songs in one – now multiply that by 3 different versions (one slow, one hard, one that morphs into an excellent “Foggy Notion”) and, well, 12 cubed = 1,728 different combinations and ways of playing “Sister Ray” on any given night. Quine captured three of them, and they’re fantastic.
There’s also a brilliant distorted version of “What Goes On” and two incredible “I’m Waiting For The Man”s – one gentle and jaunty, one dark and mean. The banana really does peel down to the base once you’ve tackled all 3 discs here, and I’m left with a much better picture of the Velvet Underground live experience than previously captured on various bootlegs. I’m confident that no two shows were identical, and that this was a band well worth slavishly following the way Quine obviously did. In sum, this small box set is essential for those who feel it important to dig deep into Velvet Underground arcana beyond the 4 LPs, the 2 posthumous LPs and the “Peel Slowly” box set. We are a limited crew, granted, but we make up in fanaticism what we lack in self-restraint – an endearing quality for Agony Shorthand readers and those few people who love them.
The purported theme of our podcast, magazine and blog is “raw and sub-underground rocknroll from the last five decades”. This new edition of DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE RADIO, #50, goes heavy on the first and most recent of those decades. Two blazing new tracks from the just-released 60s punk comp “Back From The Grave, Volume 9” make their 21st century online debuts here – and if that’s not reason enough to download or stream this thing, there’s new material from the likes of Parkay Quarts, The Coneheads, Le Skeleton, Germ House, Leggy, Honey Radar, Rakta, Sauna Youth, Bent, The Blind ShakeandPampers. Pampers! There’s a blown-out bootleg recording from the Velvet Underground, a little punk rock tomfoolery and all sorts of needless verbal blather from the host. In all, it’s 74 minutes you won’t ever get back – unless you play it a second time. Download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #50 here. Stream or download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #50 over on Soundcloud. Subscribe to the show via iTunes.
THE FOUR – 69 PARKAY QUARTS – Pretty Machines HONEY RADAR – Drink Your Magazine (live) REALLY RED – No More Art SACCHARINE TRUST –Mad at the Company CONEHEADS – Violence SHITKICKERS – Debaucher BENT – Space is Bent RAKTA – Tudo que e Solido LUCRATE MILK – Dritte Blinde Meusse LE SKELETON – Cut Your Finger SILVER APPLES – Ruby MUSIC MACHINE – Point of No Return THE BLIND SHAKE – Old Lake PAMPERS – Right Tonight LAZY COWGIRLS – Meat Shop NEVERMORES – The Way It Is SAUNA YOUTH – Transmitters LEGGY – Sweet Teeth CHRIS KNOX – Meat GERM HOUSE – Best Laid Plans VELVET UNDERGROUND – What Goes On (live; from “The Legendary Guitar Amp Tape” bootleg) KNOLL ALLEN AND THE NOBLE SAVAGES – Animal
After listening to this 2-hour all-Velvet Underground podcast, featuring Jonathan Richman reminiscing about the band, I realized I really need to be regularly listening to more Velvet Underground live shows than I currently am. My Velvets bootleg accumulation phase really peaked around 2004 or so, at the height of the CD-burning era.
Here are a few I’ve got (except “Take A Trip” – have never seen that one). There are at least two dozen more that are amazing, and more beyond that which I’ve never heard.