I keep finding myself going on these artist catalog deep dives and finding things I’ve forgotten about. I love when that happens. Recently in the past few days, I wound up going on a Nirvana deep dive. I’m not quite sure how I wound up here but, while going through all sorts of their songs, albums, demos, etc, I remembered that they did a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Here She Comes Now.” When I listen back to the Nirvana version, it’s kind of interesting that at moments, Kurt really does sound like Lou Reed. The cover is a pretty solid and good version. As a huge fan of both The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, I can get behind this version. Plus it gives me an excuse to take a break from my Nirvana deep dive and go listen to The Velvet Underground!
Nirvana (The Velvet Underground)- Here She Comes Now:
Nirvana- Here She Comes Now (Live 1991):
The Velvet Underground- Here She Comes Now (from the album White Light/White Heat):
The Velvet Underground is one of my Top 10 all time favorite bands. My mom got me into them when I was still a toddler. There’s something majestic about this band and what they create. Just when you think they are writing a “pop song” they flip the script and out comes something otherworldly. Lou Reed had one hell of a way of telling stories through songs. He was a profound writer and often doesn’t get the credit and respect he deserves. This song “White Light/White Heat” is also the title track of the same name. This song was released in January of 1968. Interestingly the song is about the sensations produced by intravenous injection of methamphetamines. “White Light/White Heat” was also a staple of the Velvet Underground’s live performances from 1967 on. The tune appears on numerous live bootleg albums, and the nearly nine-minute version included on the group’s posthumous 1969 Live double LP is one of the album’s centerpieces. This song holds such a candle with many artists, so much so that David Bowie even recorded a version of it. This track every time I hear it, I have to turn it up super loud and sing along! What a tremendous way to kickstart an album!
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.
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):
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):
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!
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.
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
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
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
Royal Blood- Royal Blood
Rage Against The Machine- Rage Against The Machine
Pearl Jam- Pearl Jam (Avocado)
The Cult- The Cult