Brian Eno inspired me to explore the weird side of music. I had been a fan of Lou Reed’s solo work. Back in my rock days, I was introduced to the live “Rock n Roll Animal” album which all my school buddies loved, due to extended guitar solos and overall rock anthem quality of that album.
Lou Reed’s solo albums however were mostly an acquired taste. Dark and disturbing is probably the best way to describe Lou. “Berlin” is probably the most depressing album ever recorded.
Having already been enamored with John Cale and Lou Reed, it was time to go for the origin. The Velvet Underground. What better place to start than the immortal first album.
This album is as groundbreaking as The Stooges, but in a different vain. It’s not an easily accessible album and the furthest thing from commercial pop music. Much of this album feels like it’s recorded in a basement full of drug induced and comatose hippies.
Keeping that description in mind, it’s an amazing record. The Lou songs are diverse. “Sunday Morning” and “Pale Blue Eyes” are polar opposites of “Heroin” and “Venus in Furs.” The Nico songs are hypnotically wonderful. John Cale’s minimalist production is felt throughout the record. I understood why The Velvet Underground sparked more kids to pick up guitars. The simplicity and the honesty is unsurpassed. This is what is missing in music today.
The raw energy, attitude, innocence and flair for fashion of the Velvet Underground is felt in just about every New York punk record.
This album takes a while to get into, but once you do, it crawls into your soul. It’s a landmark album and solidifies The Velvet Underground as punk pioneers. It’s hard to imagine that this album is 45 years old. It’s still different than anything you hear today.
Lou Reed and John Cale continue to record separately. I know they reformed The Velvets a couple of times, but I don’t think it went over too well. A mix of egos and the loss of innocence leave only songs.
I saw Lou Reed once and it was the strangest concert experience of my life. It started great, but one hostile audience member kept yelling “Do Walk On The Wild Side” FInally Lou told him to shut up, then tortured the audience with a 70 minute version of the requested song. It was painful, on purpose.
I forgave him and would be happy to see him again sometime.