Tuesday, December 2, 2014

CD Review: Universal Music Group Expands The Self-Titled Third Album From The Velvet Underground

Back in 1969, The Velvet Underground were the ultimate cult band. They released their debut album in 1967 featuring artwork by "Pop Art" leader Andy Warhol and suddenly became the coolest, psychedelic band in the U.S. Their songs dealt with drugs and prostitution that didn't really convert to chart success. The Velvet Underground would change up their sound on their third self-titled album, looking for more of that commercial success with an album filled with straight-up rock songs and ballads. The Velvet Underground would never find the success they were hoping for and would eventually break-up following the release of their 1973 album "Squeeze." On November 24th, Universal Music Group unveiled a massive 65-track, 6CD box set celebrating the band's iconic third album. The new release contains three different versions of the album, along with a never-before-released fourth album that The Velvet Underground recorded in order to get the band out of its contract with MGM. The real gems are the last two discs in the set which features eighteen songs performed by the band live in 1969 at The Matrix in San Francisco.
 
The first disc features the stereo mix of the album done by MGM's house engineer Luis Pastor "Val" Valentin, without the knowledge of the band and has become the version that fans have come to know on CD. The second disc contains "The Closet Mix" which was made by the band and was the original version of the album that was released on vinyl in 1969. It also contains an alternate version of the song "Beginning To See The Light." The third disc features the mono version of the album along with two bonus tracks, the mono single of "What Goes On" along with it's flip-side "Jesus." Disc four is the "buried treasure," containing the original rough mixes to an album that was never released. Song like the country feel of "One Of These Days," carnival-like sound of "I'm Sticking With You" and the bluesy "I'm Gonna Move Right In" has The Velvet Underground performing like another band entirely as they continued to throw out different ideas to see how far they can push their music. Six of the songs on this disc are brand-new mixes including the repetitive "Lisa Says" and garage-rocker "I Can't Stand It." The final two discs of this set were recorded on November 26 and 27 in 1969 and features songs from the newly released third album as well as songs from their forth-coming album "Loaded" album. Songs like "Rock & Roll" and "Sweet Jane" are early favorites that the band worked on during their most recent  studio sessions. The highlights of the two live discs has to be the 37-minute jam of "Sister Ray" as the band lets loose on their jam before locking into a rhythm and becoming one powerful unit of music, which is also shown in the eight-minute electric version of "White Light, White Heat."
 
This super Deluxe Edition of The Velvet Underground's third album was released on November 24th. It was also released as a remastered single-disc and a two-CD deluxe edition. To find out more about this amazing new release, please visit velvetundergroundmusic.com.

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