4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
essential for fans,
This review is from: VU (Audio CD)
This album's been billed as the Velvets' lost fourth album, but while a lot of its contents would have been on such an album had it ever been released, what this really represents is a first dip into the vault containing previously unissued Velvets studio recordings.
What's startling here is that these are proper, finished studio recordings, though newly remixed for issue 15 years on. All of it apart from Stephanie Says was recorded by the Reed/Morrison/Tucker/Yule line-up subsequent to the issue of their 3rd album in spring 1969. Many of the songs are quite lighthearted and even poppy compared to most Velvet Underground songs, and if many are quite slight lyrically they're all good tunes.
I Can't Stand It, Lisa Says and Ocean first emerged on Lou Reed's poorly produced first solo album; they're all excellent songs better served by live recordings by the Velvets, especially the latter two, but these versions are superior to the Lou Reed solo ones. Foggy Notion, I'm Sticking With You and Temptation Inside Your Heart first appeared in 1976 on a bootleg EP in crackly rough mixes of these recordings; I'm Sticking With You (amazingly used both for an advert and in a craft programme on children's TV) is an appealing novelty sung by drummer Maureen Tucker in her beautifully innocent, untutored voice; Foggy Notion is an excellent, chugging rocker, and Temptation Inside Your Heart is an odd but rather good little song enlivened by some nice overdubbed vocal harmonies and amusing commentary. Andy's Chest later turned up (in a superior version) on Transformer. She's My Best Friend finally appeared on Coney Island Baby and One Of These Days was, so far as I can tell, previously unknown when issued in 1984; they're both good, if not great songs. And leaving the best for last, Stephanie Says, recorded in early 1968 when John Cale was still a member, was re-recorded for Berlin as Caroline Says II, but this gorgeously pretty effort, a masterpiece of 60s folk-rock with an elegant viola line from Cale, is the definitive version. It's hard to believe that their record company didn't rush it out as a single - it would surely have had more chance of being a hit than virtually anything else they ever recorded - instead it stayed in the vault for 16 years.
VU is far more than an album of out-takes and curios - it opens up a rich vein of previously unissued recordings of considerable quality and gives an interesting angle on the evolution of Lou Reed's songwriting. Like the subsequent "Another View", not all of this album is on the "Peel Slowly And See" box set, making both albums essential for fans.