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The Roughnecks

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Biography

The Roughnecks were one of several studio-only groups that released tracks to which Lou Reed contributed in the mid-'60s, when he was a staff songwriter and session musician at the budget/exploitation label Pickwick. Of the four Pickwick-era Reed-associated cuts that surfaced on the Velvet Underground rarities bootleg The Velvet Underground Etc., the sole inclusion by the Roughnecks, "You're Drivin' Me Insane," might be the best. It's a pleasingly raw, slightly dissonant garage-rock tune, with an appealingly unruffled vocal by Reed and background whoops and shouts that indicate that the musicians weren't taking the enterprise very seriously at all. And why should they have been? Because the track was originally released as part of a compilation album, Soundsville!, which purported to gather songs by various artists -- the Hi-Lifes, the J Brothers, the Liberty Men, Jeannie Larimore, Connie Carson, and the Beach Nuts -- to illustrate various genres (The Sounds of New York, The Sounds of Detroit, The Sounds of Chicago, The Sounds of Hot Rod, The Sounds of the Motorcycle, The Sounds of Hollywood, The Sounds of Nashville, and The Sounds of the Campus). The Roughnecks' "You're Driving Me Insane" was pegged as the song representing The Sounds of England, although as we know Lou Reed is not English. ~ Richie Unterberger