Another singer-songwriter having a good year, Kevin Morby found his stride on his third album Singing Saw. Centrepiece ‘Dorothy’ has all the hiss of a Velvet’s track while managing to combine it with rhythmic piano rock of The Band.
Slapp Happy was a German/English/American group formed by Dagmar Krause, Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad (the tall one). Before moving to England in 1974, they recorded their avant-rock debut Sort Of in Wümme, West Germany. The signature tune ‘Blue Flower’ lifts a hook from the The Velvet Underground’s ‘Femme Fatale’, but they also plough their own furrow with the careful use of Krause’s distinct vocals. ‘Blue Flower’ would be covered by Mazzy Star and Pale Saints.
I had one of these this weekend – a hungover and slightly paranoid ‘Sunday Morning’. “Watch out, the world’s behind you, there’s always someone watching you.” ‘Sunday Morning’ is off Velvet Underground’s classic 1967 debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico. The song kicks off the album. And the first sounds are the Sugar Plum Fairy keyboards of John Cale. It’s a captivating start – to the week.
Produced by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, the album What Would The Community Think housed the psychotic overtures of ‘Nude As The News’. It was Chan Marshall’s dark, melancholic third album, and its best song drew on the influences of The Velvet Underground and Nirvana. The song draws on an abortion that Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) had when she was twenty. Visceral stuff.
Caetano Veloso’s self-titled debut album changed the face of Brazilian music, kickstarted the Tropicália movement and ultimately led to his arrest and forced exile. Originally released in 1969, the LP’s last track ‘Alfomega’ is a suitable highlight. At the time, the people needed a release and his VU-like melodies, confident drums and psychedelic vocals were just the ticket.
A focal point on The Velvet Underground’s eponymous third album, the lengthy-but-intricate ‘The Murder Mystery’ features two simultaneous songs delivered by Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison, which are in turn overlaid by choruses from Doug Yule and Maureen Tucker. Apparently, this divide was split cleanly into left and right channels, and you could measure a fan by the amount of time he/she spent in their headphones switching control between ears to follow both nightmarish stories. People just don’t get that kind of time nowadays. Shame.
The Velvet Underground‘s ‘Sister Ray’ is an oft cacophonous, but always influential, song. Reputedly named after Ray Davies, the 1968 song about transvestites, drugs and debauchery may well have given the more mainstream Davies the confidence to tackle the former topic in ‘Lola’. Its sound certainly gave VU fan, and Modern Lovers patriarch, Jonathan Richman the inspiration to pen the three-chord classic ‘Roadrunner’. There have been many versions and covers of ‘Roadrunner’, but this John Cale production is one of the earliest – a proto-punk classic at a time when others were playing and listening to glam and prog. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
YouTube – No Amazon – No iTunes
Money Mark Ramos-Nishita met the Beastie Boys while fixing their gate. It turned out to be a great bit of luck. Money Mark worked with them on Check Your Head and Ill Communication. But it got better, Push the Button was released around the same time as the Hello Nasty world tour, giving Mark the opportunity to play as the opening act for the Beasties. The album’s opus is the VU-tinged ‘Tomorrow Will Be Like Today’. Timeless. Have a great week.
‘Rock & Roll’ features on The Velvet Underground’s fourth (and my favourite VU) album, Loaded. At about the age of 14/15, I still recall a conversation with this cool-and-slightly-aloof kid in my school. I was listening to a lot of music by then – particularly Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Bowie. He asked me what type of music I liked and sneered at my response. In return, I asked the same… “the Velvets” was the response. He had a point – there are very few songs that can beat the “fine, fine music” of ‘Rock & Roll’. It also has one of those moments at 2m34s.
Undoubtedly YLT’s best album to date, I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One was moody, introspective, diverse – I read somewhere that the album is an ideal soundtrack for a nighttime drive. It would be need to be some distance; the long player is too long for some. So I pull out this 2:51 nugget for its brevity, simplicity of lyric and autumnal feel. The touches of Neil Young and Velvets helped the choice of course.