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fabulously atmospheric live album
on 19 July 2007
This second half of 1969 Live isn't quite the tour de force that Volume 1 is - it's slightly patchy by comparison. But its high points are still very high indeed.
Both CDs contain material recorded over a series of concerts in San Francisco in late November/early December 1969 (the majority) with a few tracks from a concert in Dallas a few weeks earlier. But the sound quality from the two sources is so similar that it sounds as if it could all have come from one night.
Ocean first appeared on Lou Reed's debut solo album; the Velvets had recorded several studio versions but the slow, stately 10 minute version here is definitive and thoroughly epic. Pale Blue Eyes actually improves on the superb version on their 3rd album. The version of Heroin here I'm not crazy about but isn't bad by any means. Some Kinda Love grafts a spoken intro from Dallas onto a performance from San Francisco but is a fine version. Over You is a cute little love song (something Lou Reed was surprisingly good at!) that's never appeared anywhere else. The medley of Sweet Bonnie Brown and It's Just Too Much likewise had never appeared anywhere else (though another version of It's Just Too Much, from the Dallas gig, has surfaced subsequently on the box set) and sounds like a couple of stoopid throwaway songs Reed made up as he went along; they're one of the most effortless, guileless and unforced slices of enjoyable rock'n'roll I know of - sheer innocent fun. White Light/White Heat is, for me, the nadir of this album - it goes on three times as long as it needs to and features some pretty uninspired guitar mangling. I Can't Stand It is a bonus track which didn't appear on the original double LP; there are better live versions on bootleg but it's pretty good. And I'll Be Your Mirror replaces Nico's vocal on the studio version with Doug Yule's - it's ok, but not as good as Nico, or Lou for that matter.
So not as good as Vol.1, but still essential for Velvets fans and one of the most atmospheric live recordings ever - you'll get used to the hiss very quickly.