Monday, August 31, 2009
VELVET UNDERGROUND - SQUEEZE
It happens to everyone. Well, not everyone but you will get what I mean. You get into your music when you're younger. Then you get deeper into it. Sometime in high school or college you get yourself a turntable and raid your parents record collection to supplement your own, most likely just to make it look like you have more records than you actually do. But then you give them a spin and all of the sudden it seems like whatever you were into before doesn't cut the mustard anymore. You're growing up. You have a record player. For me, this happened on my 18th birthday. Stay with me, this has to do with The Velvet Underground I promise.
The classic rock revolution that comes along with your turntable sends you in all sorts of new directions. Maybe you already liked The Velvet Underground, maybe you didn't. But either way, now you LOVE The Velvet Underground. You're growing up. You have a record player. There are plenty of typical rites of passage like this, it happens like clockwork. The only VU records you ever seem to hear about back then are "Velvet Underground & Nico" and "White Light White Heat", and most people are content with this. Time passes, and you realize "Loaded" is the best VU album.
It's perfectly natural.
But what DOESN'T happen to everyone, or at least doesn't yet, is accepting "Squeeze" into their life, and their Itunes. Plenty of people probably never find out it exists. Lou Reed quit the band before the 1970 release of "Loaded" and Sterling Morrisson left to become some brainiac nerd. That left a pretty dubious lineup with some fill in scabs to tour in support of the album. They were touring Europe and somebody got the bright idea to actually record an album in this situation but their record company (Atlantic) thought better of releasing it and put out "Live at Max's Kansas City" instead because at least it still had Lou.
And not only are they going to do a record for the limping remnants of The Velvet Underground fronted by "The Guy Who Replaced John Cale", but their manager sent the rest of the band back to the states. Either to cut costs or to maintain control of the album. "Bring in some studio musicians and the drummer from Deep Purple, and let's do this shit!" So the album comes out, their manager deserts them at some point during their tour to support it, and Doug Yule bails when the tour ends. This album has never been repressed, never been released in the U.S., and is not considered a V.U. album by the official account of the band. Obviously, it is only in that the band's name is on the labels. This is a Doug Yule solo album. But people were so preoccupied by that fact that they couldn't realize that there was totally nothing wrong with listening to a Doug Yule solo album.
As much a disappointment to Velvets fans of the day as Smiley Smile would have been to Beach Boys fans waiting for SMiLE to drop and outperform Pet Sounds. But I think what the two records have in common is that these fans were too devastated by their initial disappointment to realize that even though it might not have been what they wanted, it's still pretty great in it's own right and deserves to be regarded as such. Rock critics of recent history has done some damage control for Smiley Smile but virtually none for Squeeze. And Squeeze is a great album.