Eight-Track Playing All Your Favourite Sounds
2735. The Velvet Underground & Nico 2736. Velvet Underground: White Light/White Heat 2737. The Velvet Underground 2738. Velvet Underground: Golden Archive Series 2739. Velvet Underground: Loaded 2740. 1969 Velvet Underground Live 2741. Velvet Underground: VU 2742. Charlie Ventura featuring Jackie Cain and Roy Kral: Bop for the People 2743. The Very Best of the Ventures 2744. Joe Venuti - Eddie Lang: "The Sounds of New York" Vol. 2 (1927-1933) 2745. Tom Verlaine: Dreamtime 2746. Tom Verlaine: Words From the Front 2747. Sid Vicious Live 2748. Vibrators: Pure Mania Mixworthy: "Sunday Morning" and "Heroin," #2735; "White Light/White Heat" and "Here She Comes Now," #2736; "What Goes On," "Jesus," and "After Hours," #2737; "Sweet Jane" and "Rock & Roll," #2739; "I Can't Stand It," #2741; "Walk Don't Run," #2743; "Into the Future..." and "Baby Baby," #2748. I've had the 10-song rule in place the whole way--or at least since the Beatles ne- cessitated putting it there--and I'll continue to honour it, but the Velvet Under- ground make for a tougher call than anyone I've dealt with thus far. (It may be an even bigger problem when I get to Neil Young.) I've bypassed seven songs--"I'm Wait- ing for the Man," "Femme Fatale," "All Tomorrow's Parties," "I Heard Her Call My Name," "Some Kinda Love," "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'," and "I'm Sticking With You"--that I love approximately 1% less than what I've listed. If the Velvet Underground had been a baseball player, they'd have been a sabermetrician's dream. Their rate stats--per- centage of great albums (4/4 in the studio, giving them a pass on Squeeze); percent- age of great songs (running around 50% for me, maybe even higher for most people)-- are undoubtedly the best ever for anyone who put out at least four LPs. Their peak value was so high, it translates into a healthy career value just on the basis of four years. Their peak value was their career value--there was no downtime in there. I'm not sure how many runs they created per 27 outs, but they probably score well there, too. I'd been aware of the Velvet Underground going back to middle school, an awareness that most likely began with Lilian Roxon's memorable entry for them in The Rock Encyclopedia: "There is no word for their sound but sometimes it seems as if a presence has taken it over, perhaps even His Satanic Majesty himself. You can easily imagine someone performing black masses with the Velvet Underground's albums." If that seems like kind of a narrow reading, it's worth noting that only the first two albums had appeared at that point; in any case, the bit about black masses sure made an impression on me. So I harbored some curiosity about the Velvet Underground right from the time I started buying records, but the problem was--it's easy to for- get things like this living in the era of instant access to almost any music ever recorded, first because of all the catalogue excavation that accompanied the transi- tion to CDs, and now again thanks to file sharing--there was a block of around 15 years where every one of their LPs was out of print domestically. That's my strong- est association with the Velvet Underground outside of the music itself, and it's what I want to write about here; how much of an adventure it ended up becoming try- ing to assemble this small core of four studio albums. Long before I did buy any- thing, I'm almost positive I once stood inside Sam the Record Man looking at a copy of White Light/White Heat--this would have been 1974 or 1975, maybe--and that missed opportunity only added to my later desire to get my hands on their albums. I even- tually began with the first LP and Loaded, both of which I bought either right at the end of high school or sometime during the following summer. I can't remember which one I got first, but they're both oddball imports that are probably almost as hard to track down today as original copies; my Nico album is a German import on Polydor, unpeeled banana on the front and no band pictures on the back, while Loaded is also a German pressing belonging to a strange series called "Original Rock Classics"--I say strange because the six other titles pictured across the bot- tom of the back cover include Vanilla Fudge's Renaissance, Iron Butterfly's Heavy, and the Electric Prunes' Mass in F Minor. Which one seems out of place? Also on the back cover is a captioned photo of the band in which Lou Reed is nowhere to be seen, even though he's identified as one of the four people--that confused me for years. Okay--two down, two to go. My next big project was to get White Light/White Heat, that vague memory of the copy in Sam's still in my head, and that turned out to be a nightmare. Occasionally a copy would turn up at the Vinyl Museum, but always sel- ling for a minimum of $20, and I just wasn't someone to pay that much for an album, no matter how much I wanted it--I had learned by then that something would always turn up eventually at a reasonable price if you had a little patience. (I'm assuming no copy surfaced at Vortex during this time, because they would have priced anything at maybe $12 and I would have bought it. The original Vortex was the best record store the city ever had.) My friend Norm, the one who worked in the basement of the Vinyl Museum, managed to get me a French import for almost nothing at one point, and for as long as I had it, that was probably my most treasured record. And to prove it, it met an untimely death in the trunk of my friend Dave's car when it was left over- night and came out looking like a piece of bad sculpture. Why was it in there in the first place? I don't know--we did some flaky things back then. To fill the void, I bought a two-record import collection when I was visiting an American friend--this is now '82 or so--which included almost the entirety of White Light/White Heat. It wasn't the same as having the actual album, though, so I went on to trade that one to Norm, who'd somewhat improbably started collecting everything he could from the band, including the original 45 of "White Light, White Heat." (Norm's temperament seemed light years away from the Velvet Underground.) Within a couple of years, I found another unusual pressing of White Light/White Heat; I'm having trouble remem- bering what it looked like, but it was an early-70s reissue on MGM, with a differ- ent cover than the standard all-black. That's the one I kept until Polygram finally started reissuing the original albums in the mid-80s, I think in advance of VU's release, at which point I bought a new copy and gave the other one to the aforemen- tioned Viveca Gretton--another one of my sad, heroic gestures lost to history. At some point during all this White Light/White Heat juggling, I found a very cheaply priced British copy of album #3 in the small used bin Records on Wheels kept. Not sure where or when I found 1969 Velvet Underground Live, but I think the impetus for buying it was that it turned up very high in the Gambaccini book; similarly, I bought the Golden Archive Series collection, even though I already had every song on it, because it was Ellen Willis' pick in Stranded. I think I've seen a copy or two of Squeeze over the years, but it's never held any real interest for me, ditto the Max's Kansas City LP. The one thing I would still like to get is the companion volume to VU. To get back to the idea of instant access, every time something is gained in life, something is lost. Obviously it's great that anyone who wants to investigate the Velvet Underground can do so easily today--it's sad how record com- panies held back so much music for so long until a new technology gave them a propri- etary reason to suddenly rediscover it. There's a part of me, however, that misses all the work that went into tracking down certain albums. I'm not sure how much of that is the record-collector snob in me and how much is the music writer snob--about half and half, probably--but when you finally got what you were after, there was a tremendous sense of gratification that made you value the music even more. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2749. Viletones: Saturday Night Sunday Morning 2750. Village People: Go West 2751. Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps: The Bop That Just Won't Stop 2752. Bobby Vinton's Greatest Hits 2753. Violent Femmes 2754. Violent Femmes: Hallowed Ground 2755. Voice of the Beehive: Radio 1 Session: The Evening Show 2756. Volcano Suns: All-Night Lotus Party 2757. The Best of Porter Wagoner 2758. Wah!: A Word to the Wise Guy 2759. Loudon Wainwright III: Album III 2760. Waitresses: Bruiseology 2761. Tom Waits: Small Change 2762. Narada Michael Walden: The Dance of Life 2763. Narada Michael Walden: The Nature of Things 2764. Mal Waldron: The Quest Mixworthy: "Be-Bop-a-Lula," #2751; "Jump This Way," #2755; "Dead Skunk," #2759. The Viletones put out a couple of 45s that are among my favourite punk records ever, but they never got an album out until the live LP listed above appeared well after- the-fact. There's a good chance I was at the show they used (Larry's Hideaway, June 11, 1983), as my friends and I pretty much automatically went whenever they played around town through the early '80s, especially anytime they played Larry's. I could go into a big long thing here about that period--I had some unexpected and amusing interactions with Steven Leckie through Vinyl Museum Norm--but I went a little long on the previous entry, and Viletones testimonials are commonplace in Toronto. There's a good book in the Viletones story, provided someone other than Leckie writes it-- nowhere is the band's modest place in history more inflated than in Leckie's mind... I've had the Tom Waits album for ages. It's the kind of record that seemed very im- pressive to me in high school, very adult, and then just sounded corny a few years later. I was really surprised when Waits became such a big deal in the wake of Rain Dogs; a few people at Nerve were enamored of the record, but the couple of times I heard it, it all sounded as mannered and contrived as ever. I do think Waits is ex- cellent in Altman's Short Cuts. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2765. Jr. Walker & the All Stars: Greatest Hits 2766. Jr. Walker & the All Stars: Anthology 2767. Walker Brothers: Make It Easy on Yourself 2768. Jerry Jeff Walker 2769. Wall of Voodoo: "Ring of Fire" EP 2770. Wall of Voodoo: Dark Continent 2771. Wall of Voodoo: Call of the West 2772. Wall of Voodoo: Seven Days in Sammystown 2773. Fats Waller: Smashing Thirds 2774. 20 Golden Pieces of Fats Waller 2775. "Fats" Waller: Sings and Swings 2776. The Best of Joe Walsh 2777. War: All Day Music 2778. War: Greatest Hits 2779. Warp 9: Fade In, Fade Out 2780. Warrant: Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich Mixworthy: "Shotgun" and "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)," #2765; "Mexican Radio," #2771; "The World Is a Ghetto" and "Summer," #2778. "Swoon" is one of the many adjectives I overuse when writing about music, but if I had to reserve it for one song only, I'd go with the opening (and recurring bridge) of "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)." Whenever and wherever I hear that, I'm the hardest-swooning listener in show business. "Shotgun"'s over-familiarity is trumped by a vivid memory: my friend Peter and I are sitting in a bar on Queen West, and there's a jukebox with "Shotgun," Wilson Pickett, and some other older stuff (one of the small ones, set up right where we're sitting at the bar). I remember "Shotgun" from the radio, but I don't own any Junior Walker yet, so it's still as fresh as can be. It's 1980, my first year at U of T, Queen West is still the center of all things punk and new wave in Toronto (probably the waning days of that period, although I'm hardly an arbiter of the city's fashionable neighborhoods), and we're getting drunk. "Shotgun" plays, and I have a feeling of complete and utter freedom that I still re- member 25 years later..."Low Rider" is one of about three records involving anyone black who's not named Jimi Hendrix that Q-107 plays on a regular basis. I do not ascribe this to racism, just the blanket idiocy of mainstream radio, and believe me, when it comes to monochromatic tunnel vision, Q-107 is no worse than CFNY ("the Edge") or Flow-93.5 (all-Ludacris, all-the-time). I'm not on JACK-FM ("Playing what we think will get us a viable market share and pretending it's what we want") enough to know for sure, but my guess is that there's a somewhat less embarrassing mix of black and white pop over there; if so, the occasional resurrection of "Wasn't That a Party?" and Europe's "The Final Countdown" is too high a price to pay. Anyway, as cool as song as "Low Rider" is--and "cool"'s possibly my least-used adjective when writing about music, but it goes well with "Low Rider"--it has unfortunately rele- gated two of the '70s greatest singles to obscurity. Billboard recently compiled a list of the 10 greatest summer songs; they didn't do a bad job, at least getting Sly, Mungo Jerry, and the Fresh Prince right, but somehow they overlooked War. At the other end of the spectrum, "The World Is a Ghetto" is the only song I can think of that uses the word "bleary," which is appropriate, because no song has a stronger claim on it. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2781. Dionne Warwick: The Windows of the World 2782. Dionne Warwick's Golden Hits - Part One 2783. Dionne Warwick's Greatest Motion Picture Hits 2784. Dionne Warwick: My Greatest Hits 2785. Dionne Warwicke: Then Came You 2786. Dinah Washington: Dinah 2787. Dinah Washington: What a Diff'rence a Day Makes! 2788. Ella Washington: Nobody But Me 2789. Watermelon Men: Past, Present and Future 2790. Muddy Waters: Back in the Early Days Volumes 1 and 2 2791. Jody Watley 2792. Franz Waxman: Music for Jazz Orchestra 2793. Ballads by Ben Webster 2794. Ben Webster: Did You Call? 2795. Weddings, Parties, Anything: Roaring Days 2796. Wee Papa Girls: The Beat, the Rhyme, the Noise Mixworthy: "I Say a Little Prayer," #2781; "Don't Make Me Over" and "Walk on By," #2782; "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," and "Trains and Boats and Planes," #2784. I could list the maximum 10 songs from Dionne Warwick without too much of a stretch, but those are the six that stand apart for me (I already listed "Then Came You" back with the Spinners). PBS had a really good history-of-pop show on the other night that I never got the name of and had to abandon halfway through--not sure if it was part of an larger ongoing series or not, but the section I saw included a great clip of Warwick doing "Walk on By" while reclining on a sofa. She was lip-synching the orig- inal hit, so it was essentially a video, maybe one of those early Scopitone clips. There were also some musings from Bacharach and David, with Bacharach conceding that Aretha Franklin's "I Say a Little Prayer" was superior in every way. As I've written before, I love both versions, and yes, Aretha's is the one that's astounding. (Which the PBS show did not make clear, as Bacharach's words were punctuated by a much les- ser live version from Franklin.) Two things of interest from the Then Came You LP: Warwick apparently decided to attach an 'e' to her surname for a time (it can't be a typo, because the new spelling is on cover, spine, and record, not to mention that you'd think someone might have noticed something like that: "I told you, doofus, it's 'Dylan,' not 'Dillon'"), and my copy is a "Quadradisc," the only such record I own. I don't know--"Quadradisc" sounds like it might have been a poor-cousin version of quadraphonic sound, or maybe Warners just invented another name for legal purposes. Anyway, not Tales from Topographic Oceans, not Tangerine Dream, not even Deodato or Synergy or Herbie Hancock Plays Selections from Metal Machine Music, but a Dionne Warwick album. I'll try to find myself a couple of extra speakers, a bong, and some interesting lighting, but I'm just not sure that Dionne's going to provide the full quadraphonic experience.