Question for Velvet Underground fans

Heard a VU tune on the radio today, but i didn't know it was VU. Sounded like a current band trying to cover early Lou Reed, but with a more "modern" yet "retro" sound. As such, i was kind of shocked to find out it really was Lou Reed / VU and that the music had held up as well as it did.

Now that that part is over with, the tune kept repeating something about being 5 years old, etc... What is the name of this tune and what album is it on ? Is this a good album to become familiarized with VU recordings or should i start somewhere else ? I prefer NOT to buy "greatest hits" as it seems like you miss so much of the band by not hearing the "less popular" stuff. For those that have both, do VU recordings sound better on LP or vinyl ? Sean
The song title is ROCK & ROLL from the 1970 Velvet Underground LP LOADED on Cotillion Records, SD 9034. The big hit on the album is SWEET JANE. It's the only VU record I ever broke down and bought. Whether it sounds better on LP or vinyl is a tough call :^)

There's a nice greatest hits cassette that I think is available on CD too that contains my all time fave of theirs, Femme Fatale. Plunking down $8 for the cassette may give you the fix you need. Dunno if it contains the tune R & R tho.
The song is called "Rock & Roll". The original album was called "Loaded". Rhino records has re-issued it on CD as a double album, sounds really good. R2 72563 is the number. This was the Velvet Underground's last album recorded together. It is a great place to start.
The original vinyl is on Cotillion SD9034, a little hard to find, but worth it.
"Rock & Roll" can also be found on "1969 Velvet Underground Live", Mercury SPM-2-7504 (Vinyl).
Also the solo album by Lou Reed "Rock n Roll Animal" has a killer version.
The Velvet Underground was one of the best rock and roll bands of all time. Their music holds up well now its hard to believe they were around ~ 1965-1970.
I highly recommend all their music. Their time together as a band is interesting to read about as well.
Its nice to help you for once, seing as how you have written many an interesting word in these forums.
Thanks Rock. That is the right tune now that you mention the name of it. Hopefully, someone will be familiar with all of their releases. Then again, i could always start at the beginning and work my way through them : ) Sean
I like "Loaded", but true Velvet U. fans don't hold it that high regard. Something about it being overly commercial. True, I would only listen to side 1, but it's one of the greatest sides of rock music. Really, how can anybody resist an album with a song about someone who kissed Robert Mitchum?

Audiophile bonus points to anybody who can name the New York FM station that the song referred to.
The first record (banana cover) is a real watershed. Almost all the tunes on it will play back in the head automatically after a few listenings. It's pretty obvious that it's foundation material for a lot of cool rock stuff that's still coming out now. The newer Sonic Youth discs give you tunes w/ alot of the same feel, but have the kind of fidelity that you could only dream might be possible when you hear the VU. Anyway, I'd start w/ the 1st and go to White Light/White Heat. If I remember correctly, the digital transfer was pretty bad. You might also dig the similarities between VU, early Can and Neu.
Au contrare, Onhwy61, true Velvets fans hold them all in high regard, and you are obviously one.

Sean, if you want to appreciate the roots of alternative rock (in the original sense of the phrase), you need to throw caution to the wind and get them all. The three original Verve label releases are "The Velvet Underground and Nico" (1966), "White Light/White Heat" ('67), and "The Velvet Underground" ('69). The 'lost' fourth Verve record material is contained in the outstanding 80's compilation entitled "VU". They then moved to Cotillion for their fifth and last studio album, "Loaded" ('70). More material from the vaults was assembled on a subsequent release to "VU", entitled "Another View", and live albums were put out after their break-up, "Live at Max's Kansas City" and "1969". My favorites are the first, third, lost 'forth', second, and fifth, in that order. ("Another View" and the live stuff can be put off until you're a devotee.) Although the second record, "White Light..." is essential in more ways than one, it is by far the toughest listen, being the first rock record steeped in noise, and quite poorly recorded. (FWIW, the best-sounding disk is probably "VU", but none of their output could be considered audiophile material, no matter what format.) 'Guest vocalist' Nico's contributions to the first album are either loved or hated, but the haters aren't VU fans, period (same regarding John Cale's viola work). Whatever you get first, just get started. As the saying goes, 10 years ahead of their time, and the main inspiration of a few thousand later bands.
And once you become a devotee ... try a solo work ... John Cale's "Fragments of a Rainy Season," released in 1992. Regards, Rich
Sean...if you enjoyed this tune...then I might as well buy 'em all...and despite the difference of opinions..."Loaded"...although the most popular of all VU considered overall... a mediocre album by many VU fans...and probably my least favorite...and Im a huge 2 cents...solo projects by Lou Reed,etc...use extreme caution...most is crap....
ALso... the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Psychocandy" was highly influenced by VU...and considered by many to be one of the best debut albums of all is that good...sounds best on wax...
I agree the VU put out some great stuff. Also you have to consider Lou Reed's solo "New york" awsome! Little advertising here--I have extra sealed copies of VU & Nico and "White Light White Heat" on MFSL cd. Will sell both for $70.
PS. My previous post-My problem with sacd signal strength thru the Lexicon was the Ic. Why DVD -A worked and sacd didn't is a mystery! But using another cable has solved the problem. The result is great sound.

Excellent post by Zaikesman, as usual. That about covers it, I think. All four of the earlier VU studio albums have their own distinctive sound, and all are essential, including 'Loaded'. My personal favorite is the third album, quieter and more lyrical than anything else they ever did. And it has 'Pale Blue Eyes', one of rock's most beautiful songs.

As for Reed's solo career, I take exception to the post above that described it as consisting mostly of crap. Assuredly, there are weak spots, but some of the better Reed albums--especially 'Blue Mask'--are as good, if not as seminal, as the VU albums. Even his last one, 'Ecstasy', is a very good album.

Zaikes, are you a record reviewer or music critic? You are that well-informed and make that many cool analogies and spin-offs. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you write/wrote for Rolling Stone (in the older days), NME, or Spin. I love reading your reviews of music and concerts (your recent Flaming Lips concert review was excellent). Who are you, really?? Are you writing here under a pen name and you're really Lester Bangs, who never died?
I saw the Underground perform at a former church in Philly in 1968. Very intimate venue. Lots of White Light/Heat stuff. It was a great but bizarre performance. I can't remember if Nico was with the group or not, but I recall a female drummer with short hair who just kept staring straight ahead, no affect, during the entire performance. There was a party afterwards...
The female drummer staring straight ahead was Mo Tucker. she always looked that way.
Ivan, I'm insanely jealous (and I'm a guy who knows a woman who was at The Beatles concert held at the old armory here in DC in 1964 - the year I was born!).

Sarah, flattery will get you everywhere, but no, I'm just me. I could never write about current rock music for a living - I'd be a total curmudgeon, hating just about everything! (And I'm far, far away from being the most expert guy about older music even among my own friends [some of whom have written about music professionally], not to mention a few Audiogon members. BTW, I do own some reference books - you think these dates and stuff are just coming off the top of my head? :-).
Anybody seen the documentary on Nico? almost as depressing as her solo albums...what a waste....
Lots of folks get off on other people's wasting...
I'd second the recommendation of "Fragments of a Rainy Season". Not to dis Lou Reed who I also like, but John Cale's solo career has been much more interesting. "Fragments" is a nice overview--an intimate live album with Cale performing solo on piano and acoustic guitar. If you like that, I'd recommend "Paris 1919", "Fear", and "Sabotage/Live" as next purchases. Great stuff.
Phasecorrect - Great observations on Sonic Youth / Jesus & Mary Chain re VU similarities. What do you think of Yo La Tengo (esp their last two album releases)?
Raguirre...thanks for including Yo La Tengo...the latest one I have is "I can hear the heart beating as one"...which ones are u referring to? I also have the first one...and yes...Sonic Youth will go down as one of the most innovative guitar bands of all time...along with VU...other bands heavily influenced: Luna,Galaxy 500,the Clean,Dream Syndicate,and yes...even the ubiquitous,ultra trendy strokes...Sonic Youth's Sister,Evol,Daydream Nation era has to be one of the best of the last 20 years...
PC - I was referring to I Can Hear... and And then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. The latter is more subdued than former (although Cherry Chapstick is like a refined version of the super rockin' Sugar Cube). And then Nothing is a series of songs between Georgia and Ira about their relationship / marriage. While that seems rather concepty, the execution is fantastic, and I consider it their most musically mature album to date.

Anyway, when I think modern bands like VU, I automatically think YLT.
Your John Cale recommendations are spot on. I recall embarrassing my offspring severely when I took them to to the multiplex to see that film "Shrek." Toward the end of the film (the wedding scene), I blurted out with excitement "That's John Cale!"
Gee, was that a computer animated 'John Cale', or something on the soundtrack? ;^)
My jaw almost dropped to the floor when Cale's voice popped up during "Shrek". Personally, I thought it felt somewhat out of place, but give the producers credit for hipness.

I've never heard the original version of that song (Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"), but when Cale covers a song it's ususally a complete deconstruction (e.g., "Heartbreak Hotel" or "Streets Of Laredo"). Anyone here familiar with both versions?
Leonard Cohen (and for that matter Jeff Buckley) pretty much whisper the lyrics of "Hallelujah" in an almost reverential tone, when compared to how John Cale's version exploits the power of the lyrics and adds a sense of drama and majesty to the song. In concert, John Cale would often perform the song with Suzanne Vega and the result was mesmerizing. If I had to categorize the performances ... Cohen sounds poetic; Buckley sounds pretty; Cale sounds jubilant and triumphant . All the versions are worthwhile, just different takes. Regards, Rich
Leonard Cohen (and for that matter Jeff Buckley) pretty much whisper the lyrics of "Hallelujah" in an almost reverential tone, when compared to how John Cale's version exploits the power of the lyrics and adds a sense of drama and majesty to the song. In concert, John Cale would often perform the song with Suzanne Vega and the result was mesmerizing. If I had to categorize the performances ... Cohen sounds poetic; Buckley sounds pretty; Cale sounds jubilant and triumphant . All the versions are worthwhile, just different takes. Regards, Rich