Sometimes the truth lies beneath the canon: How would The Velvet Underground songs sound if you reduced them to their essence, scratched off the wealth of experience, the knowledge advantage and above all the iconization of the present? This May 1965 demo release, released not by a major but by reissue specialists Light In The Attic to mark Reed’s 80th birthday, and compiled by the Lou Reed Archive with Laurie Anderson, provides an answer.
Reed, who was staff songwriter at Pickwick Records at the time, is still clearly influenced by the folk of the village. Together with John Cale, he tries to create a sound that is close to Dylan, maybe also to Dave Van Ronk or Phil Ochs. It’s a great pleasure to hear how in “Heroin” not only is the opening line transformed into its opposite, but the song also manages without the later protracted nonchalance. And it’s wonderful how “I’m Waiting For The Man” suddenly has something like singing in harmony.
As an accompaniment to the ten demo songs, the deluxe version includes a number of other previously unreleased tracks, of which two cover versions are the most interesting: the spiritual “Michael, Row The Boat Ashore” with its nervous “Hallelujahs” – these are actually songs of joy – and a variation on Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.
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David Bowie streams his cover songs by Bob Dylan and John Lennon
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