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The Velvet Underground: The Complete Matrix Tapes

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:19 pm
by Adam Blake
Listening to The Velvet Underground: "The Complete Matrix Tapes" - 4 cd set - which finally arrived today. My Christmas present to myself. Fascinating, Captain. It's live Velvets but not as we know it. I put off buying it because I thought I've got at least half of it already on "1969 Live" but it turns out that a lot of this stuff has never seen the light of day before - even on bootlegs. The quality is excellent. Amazing really, considering how it was originally recorded.

Preaching to the choir: if you're a fan you do need this set. Lou Reed's legendary ability to re-invent his material from one performance to another means that all the versions of familiar songs are...unfamiliar. Also, it's revelatory to hear live versions of songs such as "Venus In Furs" and "There She Goes Again" and a version of "The Black Angel's Death Song" where Lou more or less recites the long narrative lyrics. The Matrix being a small venue, and this being the post-John Cale lineup, the Velvets are here mostly in gentle, musical mode. That's not to say that there isn't some out-there playing - there is - but that they are not trying to bludgeon the audience into submission by pasting them to the walls with sheer volume. This is definitely the Velvet Underground of the 3rd (self-titled) album. Which is fine by me. Sometimes all that shrieking and pounding can get a bit much, whereas here the listener can hear what a uniquely wonderful two guitar, bass and drums set-up they were (with a bit of organ here and there. The legendary nine minute "What Goes On" is here, in better quality than it was on "1969 Live". I can't decide whether or not being able to hear it properly is preferable.)

To anyone else: The Velvets were the most daring American band of the 60s by a country mile. This set does that reputation no harm at all.