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1969: Velvet Underground Live, Vol. 1

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Despite a lack of commercial success, the Velvet Underground was among the most influential bands of the late ‘60s, pioneering several different approaches to rock writing and performance that resonated throughout the punk, new wave, no wave, and post-punk eras that followed. By 1969, the band had replaced its aggressive avant-garde bassist-violist John Cale with the more conventional Doug Yule and the band took on a less confrontational stance. At the time, the Velvets’ version of rock n’ roll was still considered unusual, but listening with modern ears, their influence fully absorbed by the mainstream, theirs is the sound of an excellent, competent band running through an exemplary set of tunes. Initially released as a two-LP set but released as separate volumes on CD, 1969, recorded in Dallas and San Francisco, captures Reed in spirited voice and performance: “What Goes On” churns for a propulsive nine minutes; “Heroin” retains its defiant empathy; the versions of “New Age” and “Femme Fatale” are an excellent example of a band able to present calm, reflective material without losing its aggressive edge.

Customer Reviews

Best VU Live Album

The totally epic 1969 Live album documents tons of different live performances that The Velvet Underground did in,...well, 1969. Unfortunately, the CD releases are split up into two volumes. Trust me, they're worth the price and the hunt you have to go through to find both of them. Particularly volume one... Volume One has songs that can be seen as both good or bad. The version of "I'm Waiting for the Man" on here is excellent, but the first three minutes is Lou Reed muttering unintelligibly under his breath to the audience. The version of "Sweet Jane" lacks enthusiasm and the version of "Rock 'n' Roll" (My favorite Velvet Underground song) is disappointing. However, "Heroin," "What Goes On," and the unimaginative "We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together" are all classics. On the majority of the songs, Reed changes the lyrics up (On "New Age" and "Lisa Says" mostly), which is confusing and slightly unpleasant, but he makes up for it with his mesmerizing droning vocals and awesome guitar improvisations ("What Goes On" especially). Also, these live cuts were recorded after John Cale left the group, and Doug Yule doesn't quite do him justice. Listen to the studio albums before you embark on the double-CD trip that 1969 involves. You'll like it, but get a sense of the band's sound before you attempt it. Recommended Tracks: "I'm Waiting for the Man" "What Goes On" "We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together" "Heroin"

Best. Album. Ever.

This is THE album. You must have it. MUST. Then you must lie down, close your eyes, and listen to "What Goes On." Then "Pale Blue Eyes," which despite the crappy sound is sublime. Damn.

this is the velvet underground.

seriously- everyone needs a copy.


Formed: 1964 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '90s

Few rock groups can claim to have broken so much new territory, and maintain such consistent brilliance on record, as the Velvet Underground during their brief lifespan. It was the group's lot to be ahead of, or at least out of step with, their time. The mid- to late '60s was an era of explosive growth and experimentation in rock, but the Velvets' innovations -- which blended the energy of rock with the sonic adventurism of the avant-garde, and introduced a new degree of social realism and sexual...
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