The Velvet Underground

Cover Song: David Bowie (The Velvet Underground)- White Light/White Heat

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David Bowie was a huge fan of The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. So much so that Bowie often tried to emulate Lou. The Lou Reed album TRANSFORMER, was also “produced” by David Bowie. The classic Velvet Underground song “White Light/White Heat” had been part of Bowie’s live repertoire since 1971.  The Velvet Underground originally released the song in 1968 on their second album, White Light/White Heat. Bowie’s version wasn’t released officially until 1983, on the Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture soundtrack. Interestingly, Bowie’s version was supposed to be released on Pin Ups. Anyhow, enjoy David Bowie’s take on one of my all time favorite bands songs.

David Bowie- White Light/White Heat:

 

 

The Velvet Underground- White Light/White Heat:

 

 

Alternate Versions: Lou Reed- Heroin

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In 1967, The Velvet Underground released their seminal debut album. This album is said to have influenced everyone that bought it, to go out and start a band. On this album is the song “Heroin.” Written by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, this song tells a very dark and deep tale about the use of the drug. The version that most people are familiar with comes from the 1967 album but, there is another version that takes it further down the hole. The 1974 Lou Reed album Rock n Roll Animal, features a new take on the song. This version is almost double the length of the original and it’s a different take on the original. Lou Reed has often been misunderstood (more on that for another day) but, he’s the epitome of what an artist is. Anyways, this is one hell of an alternate version that should be heard and enjoyed.

Lou Reed- Heroin (from Rock n Roll Animal):

 

 

 

The Velvet Underground- Heroin (from The Velvet Underground & Nico):

 

In Defense Of: Lou Reed & Metallica- Lulu

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There is an album that came out back in 2011, that the world seemed to really take a rather negative turn on. You’ve all heard about the collaboration of the great Lou Reed and the mighty Metallica and their album Lulu. The majority of people that heard the album immediately called it atrocious and worthless. I’m probably, no, I am in the minority of people out there that actually like the album. Now before I tell you why I dig it, let me give you a little backstory on how all this came to be.

The inception of this collaboration began in 2009 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert. Metallica was chosen to perform with a variety of different artists from the rock world. Lou Reed was one of the rock contemporaries that joined Metallica on stage for a renditions of The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and “White Light/White Heat.”  After the show Lou suggested to the band that they should work together. It wouldn’t be until 2011 that this finally came to fruition. Metallica was originally brought in to re-record various unreleased songs Lou Reed had written. There were a batch of songs that Lou had from a piece of work called Lulu, based on the plays of German playwright Frank Wedekind. Metallica brought a slew of different arrangements to the table and the rest played out with the band and Lou working together to create the album. Lulu is a piece of art that is very misunderstood. The full story of where the material comes from is quite dark and horrific and comes from a place that most people wouldn’t dare tread. There are two pieces Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box that sum up all the parts of what Lulu is all about.

 

The critics of the music world truly denounced the album calling it one of the worst albums of all time. This is where I come to the albums defense. First of all, if you are not a Lou Reed fan, you are one, not going to like this album, two, if you’ve never listened to Lou Reed, you won’t “get” this, and three Lou had picked Metallica to be his backing band on this project due to the intensity of the content that Lou had written based on these plays. As a Lou Reed fan since I was a very young child, when I first heard about this collaboration, I was overjoyed. I was going to get to hear two of my favorites working together. Lou has and always will be one of the best songwriters of all time. His influence since the late 60’s is astounding. Many bands wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. Lou has always been an unorthodox artist. Anyone that has taken the time to delve into his catalog can attest to that. The choice of Metallica for this project is one that is pretty astounding. Having a band that has gone against the status quo for most of their career link up with a guy like Lou is like kismet. The 5 of these guys created an album that is an art piece through and through. It’s not a Metallica album. This is a Lou Reed album.

If you were Metallica and one of rocks biggest titans asked you to work with them on a project, you’d jump at the chance to do that. You know you would. To the guys in Metallica, this was one of those instances when doing this would be fulfilling artistically. Metallica has never been a band about quantity, thankfully. They spend time crafting their material. Some of their output hasn’t been what the “fans” wanted, i.e. Load, Reload and St. Anger but, they have always stuck to their guns and did what they felt was right.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss this album. It’s very involved and not for everyone that’s for sure. Lou Reed isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you give him a chance and take a deep look into the works of Lou, it will all make sense. Lou was an artist first and foremost. His lyrics told stories and hit on subjects many would find taboo. One day I will write up a whole thing about the greatness that was Lou Reed so you all can really delve into his works.

Lulu is like scotch, it’s acquired taste. As I’ve mentioned already, this is not an easy listen and you should not be expecting a Metallica album. If you really want to give this a chance, I highly recommend looking into what the plays are all about then go in knowing this is Lou Reed’s album with Metallica as his backing band.

Lou Reed & Metallica- Lulu:

 

Lou Reed and Metallica- Live:

 

 

 

Lou Reed and Metallica- Sweet Jane (Live):

 

 

Lou Reed and Metallica- White Light/White Heat (Live):

 

Top Ten Bands A to Z: V

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The A to Z list continues to find the top ten bands/artists in the alphabet. V is upon us and needs help to complete the list.

As usual your suggestions are wanted in completing this list.

These are in no particular order as well.

01) The Velvet Underground
02) The Verve
03) Van Halen
04) Vision Of Disorder
05) Vast
06) The Ventures
07) Vanilla Fudge
08) Violent Femmes
09) The Vandals
10) Vexes (one of the best new V bands)

Cover Song: The Jim Carroll Band (The Velvet Underground)- Sweet Jane

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Jim Carroll is one of the most gifted and prolific writers of the past century. His poetry has inspired countless bands and songs. His writings be it The Basketball Diaries, poetry books, or songs are nothing short of special. During his time in the 70’s, Jim spent a good amount of time with bands and musicians like The Velvet Underground, particularly Lou Reed, He once lived with Patti Smith, and was a fixture at all the local hot spots in New York like CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. On his 1983 album I Write Your Name, he did a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane,” and it’s probably the best cover of the song I’ve ever heard. Check it out!

The Jim Carroll Band- Sweet Jane:

 

The Velvet Underground- Sweet Jane:

 

Album Anniversary: The Velvet Underground & Nico Turns 50

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There are certain albums that I was exposed to as a very young kid that forever changed my life. Growing up with parents that passed their music tastes down to me was beyond a gift. I was exposed to so many different great albums and bands. My mom and dad had some similar interests and some very different ones as well. My mom was a huge Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground fan so, naturally that got passed on to me. When I was around 3 or 4, I remember my mom putting on The Velvet Underground and Nico album. I was stunned at how different it sounded but, I loved it. Thus began my own obsession with The Velvet Underground.

I still remember the needle dropping on the record and “Sunday Morning” started. It was almost like a lullaby. Stunningly beautiful and so different. Then “I’m Waiting For The Man” comes in and changes the entire direction of the album. The story that Lou Reed conveys is so realistic. Granted when I was a little kid, I had no idea what he was talking about but, thankfully my mom explained it to me so I could understand it. As the album goes on songs like “Femme Fatale,” “Venus In Furs,” “Run Run Run,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” “There She Goes Again,” “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” and “European Son,” would strike a chord with me and so many other people. The magnitude of depth, storytelling, and the way the music hits is astonishing. Of course, the most famous song from the album “Heroin” is a classic among classics. There is a true beauty in the way the song plays out. The build up to the chaos is mind blowing. The way Lou Reed makes you feel like you are on the journey with him is unparalleled. Lou was a masterful writer and story teller. I was also a little bit obsessed with this song and would play it over and over. I even knew all the words to it, which was pretty odd and strange, especially for a young child.

The Velvet Underground were a band that inspired so many other bands. Generations of bands since the album was released in 1967, started bands because of this album. Lou Reed was a big inspiration to me as a writer. The way he was able to connect his life and stories into song is inspiring. The Velvet Underground were unique, different, and and their own thing. They were part artsy, part psychedelic, part rock, and part blues. They were the ultimate package and continued to be a great band with albums like White Light/White Heat and Loaded.  The Velvet Underground and Nico is now 50 years old and is still a great album that will stand the test of time for so many years to come.

I have to really thank my mom for getting me into such a wonderful band. The cars rides listening to music with both my mom and dad were always great. So many different bands were played and most of them are still constantly played to this day. So if you all have a chance to, go thank your parents for showing you their music and getting you into so many great bands.

 

The Velvet Underground & Nico:

 

Documentary on The Velvet Underground & Nico:

List: Best “The” Bands

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I had a weird thought last night. How about compiling a list of all the BEST bands out there that start with the word “The.” This should be fun.
As always, your input is more than welcome.

This list is in No Particular Order!!

01) The Cure
02) The Cult
03) The Clash
04) The Start
05) The Dillinger Escape Plan
06) The Black Queen
07) The Smashing Pumpkins
08) The Velvet Underground
09) The Doors
10) The National
11) The Smiths
12) The Bled
13) The Kinks
14) The Mars Volta
15) The Misfits
16) The Who
17) The Band
18) The Beatles
19) The Rolling Stones
19) The Moody Blues
20) The Black Crows
21) The Haunted
22) The Replacements
23) The Pretenders
24) The Verve
25) The Animals
26) The Afghan Whigs
27) The Allman Brothers Band
28) The Cars
29) The Damned
30) The Doobie Brothers
31) The Jesus and Mary Chain
32) The Byrds
33) The Seeds
34) The Yardbirds

List: Best Self Titled Albums

My brain works in strange ways at times. I think of silly lists in my mind then start to really analyze them. Earlier in the week I had an idea while gazing through my music collection at home about how many self titled albums there are. Which then made me think how many of those are really that good. Well here is a list of the best self titled albums. This list is in NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

 

Black Sabbath- Black Sabbath
Metallica- Metallica
Alice In Chains- Alice In Chains (Tripod)
Year Of The Rabbit- Year Of The Rabbit
Vision Of Disorder- Vision Of Disorder
The Velvet Underground & Nico- The Velvet Underground & Nico
Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin
The Doors- The Doors
System Of A Down- System Of A Down
Them Crooked Vultures- Them Crooked Vultures
Foo Fighters- Foo Fighters
Slipknot- Slipknot
Royal Blood- Royal Blood
Rage Against The Machine- Rage Against The Machine
Rancid- Rancid
Pearl Jam- Pearl Jam (Avocado)
Korn- Korn
Garbage- Garbage
Deftones- Deftones
The Cult- The Cult
311- 311

Cover Thursday: Dave Navarro (The Velvet Underground)- Venus In Furs

The Velvet Underground is in my top 10 of favorite bands of all time. Lou Reed has always been an inspiration to me in the way he writes music and tells stories through his lyrics. Almost 15 years ago Dave Navarro released a solo album called Trust No One that was really quite good. On this album he included a cover of “Venus In Furs.” This is a different approach to this song than the original, and is quite good. Take a listen to Dave’s and the original, and experience something intriguing. On a side note, Roy Mayorga (Soulfly, Stone Sour, Nausea, Abloom) played drums on this track.

Dave Navarro- Venus In Furs:

 

The Velvet Underground- Venus In Furs:

Op Ed: My Profound Musical Memories

My Profound Musical Memories

It’s really late right now and I just finished watching Almost Famous. Sitting there watching Cameron Crowe’s love letter to music, it got me thinking I should write a love letter to music and show appreciation to certain people that helped guide me on a musical journey. So without further delay, I share with you my musical memories.

My first absolute memories of music is being in the car with my parents. When driving with my mom and dad is when it really started. We would drive in either their dark gray Mazda RX-7 or silver Mercury Cougar.  My dad then puts the tape in the stereo and out comes “ You know a day destroys the night/Night divides the day/try to run/try to hide/ Break On Through To The Other Side.” The Doors were one of my absolute first loves and has played a huge part in my musical chemistry. I would go on to read every book about them to really understand what they were all about. Jim Morrison was and always will be one of my most profound influences in how I write lyrics and poems. My dad was really into The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane and tons of other great music from the sixties and seventies. Adding to those bands was my moms love of The Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin. Granted I was way too young to appreciate The Velvet Underground at that time, there was something strange and mysterious about their music that captivated me. Lou Reed was such a masterful story teller in his songs. There was something truly poetic about the way he wrote. Sure he wasn’t a good singer, but neither was Bob Dylan and both of them were able to connect on such a level that is hardly touched.  Even to this day when I’m out with my parents, I can put all the albums on that they showed me, and it brings me back to when and where I was when I first heard them. Not to mention all the stories that both of them have of when and where they were, really make musical memories that you can not replicate. Those stories are some of the best things to hear.

The other moment that really changed everything happened when I was three. My parents were having work done to our house and the guys that were doing the work would play their music. One day I heard the song that set everything in motion. “Shot through the heart/ And you’re to blame/ Darling you give love… A BAD NAME.” I was blown away. I had to have this, only I didn’t know who it was. I would soon be told it is Bon Jovi. The next thing I know I’m at The Wherehouse with my mom buying Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet. I must have listened to that tape over a thousand times and wore it out! Of course then I had to have everything Bon Jovi, all other albums, all their videos, magazines, assorted other odds and ends and of course I wanted to be Jon Bon Jovi. The walls of my room were covered with posters of Bon Jovi. My first concert would of course be Bon Jovi. It was in 1989 at the Forum in Los Angeles. I was four going on 5 and my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday and I said I wanted to see Bon Jovi. Then it happened. I was with my mom and dad seeing my favorite band. It was during the New Jersey tour that I went. I still have the t-shirt from that show. Mine is quite too small to wear now, but my mom had bought a bigger extra one and as the years have gone on I’ve rocked that shirt to every Bon Jovi concert I go to. And That concert changed my life

A few years back, my wife took me to Outside Lands festival in San Francisco. One of the main headliners for that year was Neil Young. In all my years Neil was on my list of bands/people I needed to see before they/or I pass. So on the first night of the festival, it happened. Neil Young on stage and the tears of joy started coming. There out in the audience, standing next to my girl, I watched and listened in awe of Neil Young rip though so many of my favorite songs. I remember also as soon as the show was over and calling my parents and telling them how amazing Neil Young was and to thank them. That was such great musical moment in my life that without my mom and dad showing me so many great bands, I would have missed out on seeing someone in concert that would have a lasting effect on me.

My wife causally listened to music before she met me. She hadn’t really been to many shows or heard certain albums. Needless to say, I saw a perfect opportunity to pass along my musical knowledge to her. It’s truly a wonderful feeling to be able to pass along what you were taught about music from your parents to people that really soak it up and get as excited as you do about certain albums. Sure there are some that don’t always connect with her, but she sees it for what it is and appreciates it. Being able to explore different genres with her and take her to concerts and see bands she never in a million years would have ever heard of or listened to is exhilarating. One of the biggest bands that she has really grown to love is Nine Inch Nails. Her love and appreciation of them makes me really happy. Not only are they my favorite band, but now hers too. This sure makes things easy when it comes to asking what should we listen to. I proposed to her at a Nine Inch Nails concert and at our recent wedding we walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of “The Fragile” by Nine Inch Nails. Not something you would see at a normal wedding. It was perfect for us though. Over the years and all the albums and concerts, it’s still great to still give her albums to listen to and hear what she thinks of them as she listens for the entire album for the first time and take her to concerts that will leave her speechless.

I wasn’t an easy kid to raise, and got grounded a lot. Even with all the times I was grounded, my parents never took away my music. Music was always my saving grace. It has been the one constant in my life that has truly allowed me to be me and express myself. Through all the genres and phases I’ve been through, music has been there to guide me. It didn’t matter what I was going through, I always had a soundtrack to accompany me. Over the years I’ve gone back and looked at my collection and asked myself why did I buy this? Then take it over to my stereo put it one and listen, trying to remember what was it about this band that made me buy their album. Then I remember how old I was, where I was when I first heard the song that made me want to buy it, and who I was friends with at that time.

Its quite interesting to look back on all this and realize that some of my favorite memories involve going to a record store and buying a new album. I have a ritual when I buy a new album. I immediately have to open it and look at the booklet and skim through it. and then if its a cd I have to listen. Then when I get home, I grab my pillow and headphones and head right for my stereo and begin to listen over and over, just soaking it all in. As I lay there reading the lyrics and liner notes, I delve into the songs with each listen, finding my favorite songs and loving every minute of it. I love listening to music. There is no better feeling than hearing a great album that takes you on a journey that soothes everything and puts you in a space that is all your own

Mom and Dad- Thank you for sharing your music with me. You started me on my journey and let me pursue what I wanted to do with music. They say it’s got to start somewhere, and what better place than at home. Oh and there is nothing wrong with long songs anymore.

Alisa- Thank you for letting me share my musical wisdom and collection with you. You have helped me continue on my musical journey and allowed me to keep pursuing my musical ambitions. I can’t wait for us to pass on our music tastes to our kids. Just try to limit some of that silly stuff you listen to.