The Velvet Underground biography
It has often been reported that before Cale's departure there was a struggle between his creative impulses and Reed's: Cale's experimentalist tendencies had contrasted with Reed's more conventional approach. According to Tim Mitchell, however, Morrison reported that though there was creative tension between Reed and Cale its impact has been exaggerated over the years.
In any case, the harsh, abrasive tendencies on the first two records were almost entirely absent on their third album. This resulted in a gentler sound influenced by folk music, prescient of the songwriting style that would form Reed's solo career. Another factor in the change of sound was the band's Vox amplifiers and assorted fuzzboxes being stolen from an airport while they were on tour. In addition, Reed and Morrison had purchased matching Fender 12-string electric guitars. Doug Yule plays down the influence of the new equipment, however.
Morrison's ringing guitar parts and Yule's melodic bass guitar and harmony vocals are featured prominently on the album. Reed's songs and singing are subdued and confessional, and he shared lead vocals with Yule, particularly when his own voice would fail under stress. Doug Yule sang the lead vocal on "Candy Says" (about the Warhol superstar Candy Darling), which opens the LP, and a rare Maureen Tucker vocal is featured on "After Hours", which closes the album. It is a song that Reed said was so innocent and pure he couldn't possibly sing it himself. The album's influence can be heard in many later indie rock and lo-fi recordings.
Year on the road and the "lost" fourth album (1969)The Velvet Underground spent much of 1969 on the road, feeling they were not accepted in their hometown of New York City and not making much headway commercially. The live album 1969: The Velvet Underground Live was recorded in October 1969 and released in 1974 on Mercury Records at the urging of rock critic Paul Nelson, who worked in A&R for Mercury at the time. Nelson asked singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy to write liner notes for the double album which began, "I wish it was a hundred years from today..."
During the same year, the band recorded on and off in the studio, creating a lot of material that was never officially released due to disputes with their record label. What many consider the prime of these sessions was released many years later as VU. This album has a transitional sound between the whisper-soft third album and the pop-rock songs of their final record, Loaded.
The rest of the recordings, as well as some alternate takes, were bundled on Another View. After Reed's departure, he later reworked a number of these songs for his solo records ("Stephanie Says", "Ocean", "I Can't Stand It", "Lisa Says", "She's My Best Friend"). Indeed, most of Reed's early solo career's more successful hits were reworked Velvet Underground tracks (albeit, the ones he wrote), released for the first time in their original version on VU, Another View, and later on Peel Slowly and See.
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