Hard News by Russell Brown


The Velvet Underground Etc.

I was in at 95bFM this morning, for the first time in ages; guesting with Zac and Ethan on their "albums of our lives" slot, where people come in, talk about a particular album that's had an impact on their lives, and play a couple of tracks. I chose the Velvet Underground & Nico.

In part that was because I had well-practised anecdotes to share about meeting and interviewing Nico and John Cale, but also because when I was younger there was a kind of tribal affiliation about that record. The old saying that hardly anyone bought it, but everyone who did went out and formed a band is true in spirit, if not in fact. To treasure that album was to have a certain idea about what music is meant to be.

For a cult album, the Velvet Underground and Nico was never actually that hard to obtain -- if I recall correctly, it was a mid-price staple even in the early 1980s. The original sleeve, with its peel-off banana, was a different matter.

You can buy the record and the songs on it every digital whichway now -- not least on this year's six-disc (yes, really) reissue package, which includes Nico's Chelsea Girl and live recordings from a show in Columbus, Ohio.

A little harder to find, but still out there, is the so-called Gymnasium bootleg, which, when it first surfaced in 2008, was thought to be the band's only 1967 live recording -- and the last known to feature John Cale. Its provenance is unclear and its sound quality so good that somepeople suspected it must actually be the work of a very convincing VU covers band. But no, it's them. And it's an amazing record, which includes an 18-minute version of 'Sister Ray' and a great version of 'Run Run Run'.

There's more information and a download link here. (Note that these are FLAC files and the password to unwrap the .rar is VU67.) You can also download the MP3s individually here (apart from the instrumental 'Booker T', which appeared on later versions of the bootleg).

Or, if you prefer, it's right here on YouTube:

There's also a lovely performance of 'Femme Fatale', from the 1972 Bataclan sort-of-reunion show. For some reason the YouTube uploader has disabled embedding, but you can watch it here.


One TheAudience ... this very silly but pleasantly squishy bit of fun from Aquaboogie (Stuart McDonald) and Jet Jaguar (Michael Upton).

The oddly Beatlesque 'Better Friends' from Loui the Zu side project Why SL:

And Young Gifted and Broke collaboration Side Steps Quintet. Smooth:


And finally, the Loop Recordings crew have been going nuts on Soundcloud. There's a whole bunch of free stuff on their Soundcloud account, including this chunky, funky remix of A Hori Buzz's 'Turnaround':

It's all in aid of March's SoundsOn festival at Albany Stadium -- and the project is full of Loop supremo Mikey Tucker's ability to get diverse parties on the same page. Building the cost of travel by train or bus into the ticket price is an excellent idea.

And Laneway 2013 just got even more appealing with the addition of Real Estate to the lineup. It's going to be a good summer.

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