64-track six-CD package on Polydor/UMe includes legendary 1969 album, featuring several different mixes, live recordings from The Matrix in San Francisco, case-bound book and liner notes by David Fricke
Los Angeles, CA – September 24, 2014 – The Velvet Underground’s classic self-titled third album, released in March 1969, by MGM, was a departure from the band’s first two albums in more ways than one. Gone was co-founding member John Cale, and in his place was a 21-year-old with Long Island roots named Doug Yule, who stepped right in. The record was also a stylistic leap, as Lou Reed describes it in Rolling Stone editor David Fricke’s liner notes, “I thought we had to demonstrate the other side of us. Fricke calls it “a stunning turnaround… 10 tracks of mostly warm, explicit sympathy and optimism, expressed with melodic clarity, set in gleaming double-guitar jangle and near-whispered balladry. Or as the late rock critic Lester Bangs put it, “How do you define a group like this, who moved from ‘Heroin’ to ‘Jesus’ in two short years?”
How indeed do you describe an album which includes such classics as “Candy Says,” Reed’s ode to Warhol superstar Candy Darling; the aching love song “Pale Blue Eyes,” allegedly inspired by a girlfriend at Syracuse University who got away, with lead vocals by Yule; the inspiring “Beginning to See The Light”; the spoken-word narrative and musique concrete of “The Murder Mystery,” and the beautiful Maureen Tucker-sung “After Hours”?
Celebrating its enduring longevity, Polydor/Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) will release The Velvet Underground – 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, on November 24, 2014. This 64-track, six-CD package is housed in a case-bound book and features several different mixes including the remastered stereo mix by MGM house engineer Luis Pastor “Val” Valentin, a set of 1969 recordings, many of which were previously unreleased, from the Record Plant in New York City that were supposed to be the band’s fourth album, several of which ended up on Loaded and Reed’s first two solo releases, and unreleased live recordings from The Matrix in 1969.
The Velvet Underground was the first album produced and arranged by the band themselves. Disc One of this collection contains the album stereo mix by MGM house engineer Luis Pastor “Val” Valentin, a veteran of sessions for Ella Fitzgerald and Stan Getz, recorded at T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood, while the band was staying at the Chateau Marmont. The second disc features what Sterling Morrison dubbed “The Closet Mix,” which Reed described as a way to “get directly to somebody, unfiltered… So, if you listen to the record, it’s like sitting across from you.” This was the original version on the 1969 pressings of the album, later replaced by yet another Val Valentin stereo mix. The third disc features “the promotional mono mix” of the album, including a mono version of the first single, “What Goes On” b/w “Jesus.”
The fourth disc in the set offers a version of the never-to-be-released fourth album, recorded in October 1969 at the Record Plant in New York City, and intended to get the band out of its contract with MGM. The sessions include 10 previously unheard mixes - four original 1969 vintage mixes and six new mixes, including 2014 mixes of “Lisa Says” and “I Can’t Stand It,” and the original 1969 mix of “Ocean,” which eventually were re-recorded for Lou Reed’s 1972 self-titled solo debut. Also included are the original 1969 mixes of “Andy’s Chest,” which appeared in a different version on Transformer, and “Rock & Roll,” redone for Loaded.
The last two discs feature performances by the Velvets from their stay at San Francisco’s The Matrix, owned by Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin, on November 26 and 27, 1969. These performances are, for the first time, compiled and mixed from the legendary, original 1969 multi-track recordings made by club manager Peter Abram and now owned by the Velvet Underground. Tracks include a nearly 37-minute-long “Sister Ray” and a version of “There She Goes Again,” interpolating the opening guitar quote from Marvin Gaye’s 1962 hit, “Hitch Hike.”
Newest member Doug Yule describes the year best to Fricke in his liner notes, pointing to the band’s “cohesiveness and creativity and just great music. We were feeling good. All we had to do was play. And it showed. That comes out in a band. You get tight, and you get creative.”