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All Tomorrow's Parties
December 16, 2009 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Rock band reunions normally involve, at minimum, a little live music. But as The Velvet Underground are not your typical rock band, maybe none of us should have been surprised that the reunion of The Velvets at LIVE from the NYPL on Tuesday December 8th had none.
posted by Joe Beese (37 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Morrison is dead and they brought out Yule instead of Cale? That's a pretty bullshit "reunion".

I mean, seriously. Doug Yule?
posted by mr_roboto at 9:45 AM on December 16, 2009


[queues up some cuts off of Squeeze]
posted by porn in the woods at 9:49 AM on December 16, 2009


mr_roboto: "I mean, seriously. Doug Yule?"

Well, it is Yuletide.

I'm sorry.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:53 AM on December 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Doug Yule's contributions to the self-titled and Loaded are great and should be respected.
posted by mpbx at 9:54 AM on December 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


“They can’t make us wait in lines,” my friend said when we were told the doors weren’t open yet. “This is punk rock.”

I'm eating a sandwich. That's a non sequitur.
posted by battlebison at 9:56 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Paying $25 general admission to listen to an interview: punk rock
Waiting in line for said interview: not punk rock
posted by naju at 10:02 AM on December 16, 2009


naju: "Waiting in line for said interview: not punk rock"

I have a sudden urge to go get sushi and not pay.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:08 AM on December 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


Just as well. Their mid-90s reunion where they did play was fucking awful.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:12 AM on December 16, 2009


I have a hard time imagining you'd be able to get Lou Reed to be in good enough a mood long enough to appear live for much of anything these days.
posted by blucevalo at 10:15 AM on December 16, 2009


I love the Velvet Underground fiercely. Some of their stuff sits near the top of my "Most Played" playlist. I firmly believe the song "Sister Ray" saved my life once.

But every time I read anything about Lou Reed, I think, "What a puffed-up, sour little man."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:18 AM on December 16, 2009


We're getting closer to the inevitable "Lou Reed's Coat" tour*.

*With special guest Doug Yule.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:21 AM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've never much liked the VU, but, like BitterOldPunk, I've always found Lou Reed to be a total douche, which only accentuates my dislike of their music.

Reed declared, “To this day, I don’t think there is much going on that can come close to what the Velvet Underground did…Not even in the universe.”

Such humility.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:24 AM on December 16, 2009


But every time I read anything about Lou Reed, I think, "What a puffed-up, sour little man."

I recall John Cale saying something similar after the previous VU reunion. I wish I could remember the quote-- it had to do with the disconnect of how a man who could write such heartfelt and beautiful music could be such a spiteful and bitter man in person.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:32 AM on December 16, 2009


Reed declared, “To this day, I don’t think there is much going on that can come close to what the Velvet Underground did…Not even in the universe.”

Metal machine music came close. so close. so very very... oh fuck it.

Love VU. Can't stand Reed.
posted by Babblesort at 10:32 AM on December 16, 2009


Reed declared, “To this day, I don’t think there is much going on that can come close to what the Velvet Underground did…Not even in the universe.”

You heard it here first, folks: The Velvet Underground sucked more than any black hole.

(I am kidding.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:32 AM on December 16, 2009


But every time I read anything about Lou Reed, I think, "What a puffed-up, sour little man."

Any man Laurie Anderson would marry has got to have something going for him.
posted by escabeche at 10:45 AM on December 16, 2009


Just as well. Their mid-90s reunion where they did play was fucking awful.

i wasn't there, but rumor has it that lots of the shows they played in the 60s were fucking awful as well. the point is, when they're ON they can't be touched.

and yeah ... i'd pay $25 to sit in a room with mo tucker and lou reed. i guess it would be ok if that other guy were there, too.
posted by msconduct at 10:50 AM on December 16, 2009



Any man Laurie Anderson would marry has got to have something going for him.


He offered her a single plum, floating in a man's hat.
posted by The Whelk at 10:51 AM on December 16, 2009


This is punk rock.

no, it's art rock
posted by pyramid termite at 10:52 AM on December 16, 2009


I have a hard time imagining you'd be able to get Lou Reed to be in good enough a mood long enough to appear live for much of anything these days.

Well, except for the tour he and Laurie did this past summer all over Europe. Seems like she has the power to get him onstage and playing and even seeming to have fun.

My impression is that he regards VU to be looking backwards, so it holds less interest for him.
posted by hippybear at 10:59 AM on December 16, 2009


hippybear: "My impression is that he regards VU to be looking backwards, so it holds less interest for him."

Whether you were a musician or an athlete, it must be difficult to know with certainty that you'll never surpass the work you did when you were 28.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:09 AM on December 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Anyone reminded of "Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues" by Todd Snider?
now to fit in on the seattle scene
you've gotta do somethin' they ain't never seen
so thinkin' up a gimmick one day
we decided to be the only band that wouldn't play a note
under any circumstances
silence
music's original alternative
root's grunge
posted by notsnot at 11:10 AM on December 16, 2009


"I have a sudden urge to go get sushi and not pay."

In my head, the FBI agent in Tapeheads isn't Jello Biafra, and the driver of the alien car is. I know its the exact opposite, but my brain is unable to make the correction.

Why is this?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2009


No beer is needed here.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:43 AM on December 16, 2009


Worst gig I ever saw was Lou Reed playing "Berlin" live in its entirety, a couple of years ago - depressing, but for all the wrong reasons. Here's some footage of a Belgian journalist testing Lou's patience. To be fair to all parties involved: nobody told Lou the interview was going to be half an hour long, and the journalist had all his questions vetoed by Reed's entourage moments before the interview. Things start going really awry around the 15 minute mark.
posted by Siberian Mist at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2009


Worst gig I ever saw was Lou Reed playing "Berlin" live in its entirety, a couple of years ago.

Was this one of the Dec. 2006 shows at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York? I absolutely love the concert film and LP - Lou fuses ecstatic guitar to the orchestral pomp of Berlin and I found it mind-boggling, especially the blowout on "Sad Song."

I saw Lou at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California two months before the Berlin shows and it was pretty great. "Baton Rouge" from 2000's Ecstasy was the highlight.
posted by porn in the woods at 5:06 PM on December 16, 2009


I've never much liked the VU, but, like BitterOldPunk, I've always found Lou Reed to be a total douche, which only accentuates my dislike of their music.

Reed declared, “To this day, I don’t think there is much going on that can come close to what the Velvet Underground did…Not even in the universe.”

Such humility.


So not much for you in this thread then?
posted by mattoxic at 5:33 PM on December 16, 2009


# i'd pay $25 to sit in a room with mo tucker and lou reed.

Huh. In high school used to hang out at the Tucker home several times a week. (Her kids were schoolmates of mine.) I never really thought it so significant, but then I don’t think I ever actually listened to a VU song until I moved away to college.
posted by ijoshua at 9:05 PM on December 16, 2009


My Mom fondly recalls seeing them in Cleveland in the late sixties. She told me she had a velvet underground sticker. Then, when I finally heard them... man... totally blown away. I think only Sonic Youth's output (which kind of requires quantity over quality) comes close...

That said, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker are my fave 2 in the band.
posted by nutate at 10:02 PM on December 16, 2009


Best (and only) gig I saw Lou Reed play was the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. I don't know if he was really angry at the audience, or whether it was just an act, but he put on a great show. (self-link)

Google had a conference overflow lounge upstairs, and I walked in while he was warming up in the locked main hall. The video and sound were still hooked up, so I got to see him play twice. I think I was the only person in the room - everyone else was queued up downstairs for the surprise guest.
posted by zippy at 10:56 PM on December 16, 2009


They already HAD a surprise reunion once, in the early 90s, when the principal members were, you know, all still alive. Doug Yule was not invited, but said he would have declined anyway.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:52 PM on December 16, 2009


Such humility.

Screw that. Humility is a dumb virtue. What's Lou Reed supposed to say, "oh, come on, we weren't that great"? They WERE that great. "Not even in the universe" is a little much, but he's entitled to be proud of his accomplishments and say so.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:59 PM on December 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Doug Yule's contributions to the self-titled and Loaded are great and should be respected.

True, but there's still the matter of that last album, now long out-of-print, with just him and Maureen Tucker (and I'm not positive she even plays on it). It's even worse than that one "Beach Boys" album with only Mike Love And Special Guest John Stamos.

Wait, that may be going too far.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:04 AM on December 17, 2009


Babblesort: “Love VU. Can't stand Reed.”

BitterOldPunk: “I love the Velvet Underground fiercely. Some of their stuff sits near the top of my "Most Played" playlist. I firmly believe the song "Sister Ray" saved my life once. But every time I read anything about Lou Reed, I think, "What a puffed-up, sour little man."”

I hear this all the time, and I am convinced that every single person who dismisses Lou Reed flatly has never actually listened to his solo work. I mean, sure, everybody's heard Transformer and whistles "Perfect Day" or "Walk On The Wild Side" as they're walking down the street. And then most of them seem to have tried getting into Berlin, failed, maybe heard some of Metal Machine Music just for kicks, and then threw up their hands and gave up. What the fuck is this? It makes no sense.

Lou Reed made several of the great records of the period between 1975 and 1985 – and nobody listens to them. Why the fuck not? I'm seriously baffled by this; I don't meet anybody who's heard this stuff. And then I stumbled on a copy of The Blue Mask from 1982 in a record shop, and figured it was probably just detritus, but what the hell, I bought it. And guess what? It's one of the best albums I've ever heard. Honestly, I'm a huge fan of the Velvet Underground, and "Lady Godiva's Operation" (to take my favorite example) is brilliant stuff, but The Blue Mask is better than anything that the Velvet Underground ever did. Seriously.

That record makes me so happy - it's the record that convinced me that Lou Reed really and truly cared about his music more than anything else in his life, that it was a place of solace for him. It's a broken record, the record of a guy who's just gotten sober, with the crackling voice and a manner such that you can tell he's wearing bags under his eyes and the sort of tentatively goofy grin of a guy who's finally going through the really hard work of cleaning up and learning to live again. And he writes - writes really simple, direct stuff that's just so heavy in its quiet, bleary-eyed immediacy. A song about getting out from under the bottle; a song about the ghost of his dead mentor; a song about withdrawal, a song about dealing with the memories of a rough childhood. Simple stuff, real stuff, stuff about his life - like the only way he could come back from the 70s (a hell of a time for him) was to retreat into that music that'd been there all along, in the purest, cleanest, clearest way he could. That record, a raging rock record at times that has as its heard the idea of getting better again, means a great deal to me, more than the admittedly sometimes highly inspired experimental maniacal mayhem of VU (which, again, I love very much.) What's more, it has Robert Quine - Robert fucking Quine - on guitar, and he's fucking brilliant, this gliding, roaring, humming stuff that's really one with the ages.

And it's not even my favorite Lou Reed album. My favorite is Coney Island Baby, another one that gets ignored all the time. I think people ignore Coney Island Baby because it doesn't have angst or something, but it's really fantastic; breezy, happy, good. And it's so casually bright that you hardly notice that the last song - a masterpiece of laid-back, chilled-out synesthesia during which you can really see the fading light of the sun going down - is apparently a song, a nostalgic song, about his high school days of repressed homosexuality, and a tribute to "the glory of love" that he rode through on.
... I'd like to send this one out to Lou and Rachel and all the kids at P.S. 192... man, I swear I'd give the whole thing up for you...
Whenever the Velvet Underground come up in interviews, Mark E. Smith always points out that he likes Lou Reed's solo stuff better than the Velvet Underground, as great as the Velvets were. Mark's crazy about a lot of things, but he has a very good musical sense, and I think he's right on this; Lou Reed's solo work is really better. And to be honest John Cale's solo work is not at all inferior, either; anybody who's heard Music For A New Society has to know that this man is a man who's capable of some insanely interesting craft.

All in all, though, Lou Reed gets a bad rap. Legendary Hearts? New Sensations? Come on, people - these were fantastic records. Lou Reed's solo stuff deserves a better look.
posted by koeselitz at 3:12 AM on December 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Although, reading through the summary of this event, I have to say that if I'd been an audience member allowed to write my question on a little card to be asked the band, my question would have been:

"So what was it like getting to work with John Cale, huh?"
posted by koeselitz at 3:23 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Best chorus ever:

Sy-yyyyyyl-vi-i-i-aa-aaa
Sy-yyyyyyl-vi-i-i-aa-aaa
Sy-y-y-yl-vi-i-i-i-i-i-aaa-a
Sy-y-y-yl-vi-i-i-i-i-i-aaa-a

posted by Sys Rq at 1:59 PM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Psst!
Hey koselitz! Sys Rq!

YOU GUYS ROCK!

I love The Blue Mask and "Coney Island Baby" - this is the cut that got me hooked on solo Lou.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:01 PM on December 18, 2009


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