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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 9 March 2016
As always Amazon mixes reviews of different versions. I have a previous "deluxe" double version with some Nico tracks and some singles plus the mono and stereo mixes. The new 45 year anniversary double "deluxe" version which I just bought has the stereo version, some rehearsals, and some versions of an early acetate. Interesting to hear once maybe but the rehearsals are bootleg quality part formed songs and the acetate tracks are scratchy. So you'll not listen twice.

Stick to the earlier version, it even has a peelable banana and the new version's sleeve splits when you try get the booklet out.

The main album itself is, it goes without saying, fabulous on all versions.
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on 18 April 2017
I got the 2-disc version. Have lived with this album for over 35 years. Still sounds utterly essential and am glad I have updated to this new re-master with all the extra tracks.
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on 21 May 2017
Great album from the velvets and nico, would recommend!
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on 8 April 2017
Always loved Velvet Underground
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on 1 April 2017
I never ordered this
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When the recent DELUXE and SUPER DELUXE versions of 'THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO' and 'WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT' were first announced I was fairly disgusted with the price of the SUPER DELUXE EDITIONS. Here's a rundown of their contents, and at the end we'll discuss their value for money and cheaper options. Let's begin with the new releases of their first iconic album.......

I already owned the first THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO Deluxe Edition from 2002 featuring the album's stereo and (superior) mono versions, the five most VELVET-like tracks from NICO's 'CHELSEA GIRL" and mono versions of the singles "All Tomorrow's Parties"/"I'll Be Your Mirror" and "Sunday Morning"/"Femme Fatale." The first pressing (which I have) also had the "peelable" banana. The 2012 45th ANNIVERSARY version's first disc contains a REMIXED version of the stereo album, four alternate takes ("All Tomorrows Parties," "Heroin," "European Son" and "I'll Be Your Mirror") and an instrumental take of "All Tomorrow's Parties." The second disc has the oft-bootleged "Scepter Studio Sessions," with nine of the album's eleven songs recorded before the Verve album, and six "Factory Rehearsals" recorded on January 3, 1966 that contain the rarities "Walk Alone," "Crackin' Up" and "Miss Joanie Lee.".....

The six disc SUPER DELUXE LIMITED EDITION of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO comes in a 10" x 11" hardcover book with the de rigeur peelable banana. The first disc is the same as disc one of the 2012 DELUXE EDITION, Disc Two is the same as Disc 2 of the 2002 DELUXE EDITION. Disc Three contains the stereo mix of NICO's 'CHELSEA GIRL' and Disc Four is the same as Disc 2 of the 2012 DELUXE EDITION. Discs Five & Six contain a live concert recorded November 4, 1966 in Columbus, OH at the Valleydale Ballroom. It is, I believe, the only surviving full concert of the line-up with Nico. They perform seven songs from the debut album sandwiched between a 28min. "Melody Laughter" and a 28min. "Nothing Song." The sound quality is comparable to a fair bootleg, slightly better than LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY but not as good as the LIVE 1969 Vol. 1 and LIVE 1969 Vol. 2 sets, but an unquestionably historic document, nonetheless. I was also impressed with Nico's contributions to the controlled noise fests that bookend the concert, belying tales that she was only interested in her "spotlite" performances. The book itself is printed on high quality paper and contains mostly unpublished photos, none of which I could find in other VELVETS books such as "The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side." My only complaints are the high price, that the discs are in slots in the rear of the book, and more importantly, they left off the superior mono mix of CHELSEA GIRL even though they had room on the stereo disc. Fans of this version have to either track down an old LP or buy Sundazed's The Verve/MGM ALBUMS, a vinyl box set of the first three albums and CHELSEA GIRL in mono, and the "lost album" '1969' in stereo......

This three disc WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 45th Anniversary SUPER DELUXE EDITION comes in a similar hardcover book of the same quality. The first disc contains the original stereo album and seven bonus tracks. "I Heard Her Call My Name" is an alternate version, "Stephanie Says" and "Temptation Inside Your Heart" were previously available on the VU compilation, "Guess I'm Falling In Love (instrumental version)," "Hey Mr. Rain (Version 1)" and "Hey Mr. Rain (Version 2)" are new mixes of tracks first released on the compilation ANOTHER VIEW, and there's a previously unreleased early version of "Beginning To See The Light." All the bonus tracks, especially those previously released, have benefited greatly from the new remastering. Disc Two has the mono version of the original album with the single mix of the title track and it's B-Side "Here She Comes Now" and "previous unreleased isolated vocal and instrumental versions" of "The Gift." The real treat is on Disc Three, a seven song concert by the WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT group on April 30, 1967 at NYC's Gymnasium in, to quote John Cale, "remarkable quality." It contains the rare tracks "Booker T.," "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore" and "Guess I'm Falling In Love." The first and third were previously released on the 'PEEL SLOWLY AND SEE" set......

The two disc 'WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 45th Anniversary DELUXE EDITION' contains Discs One and Three of the SUPER DELUXE set, and is therefore a bargain. I have to admit, when I first heard there was to be a 2CD version, I figured it would contain Discs One and Two, forcing the real fans to shell out for the rare great concert. I was more than pleasantly pleased when I found that the concert disc was to be included. The only MINOR nitpick I have is there's no photo of the alternate European cover anywhere. For such a revered album you think they'd want to "cover" all bases, but it's a drop in the ocean compared to the value of this set......

I was extremely lucky, one day I was checking prices and found a "Like New" used copy of the THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO SUPER DELUXE EDITION for about $10 a disc, which I think would be a fair price for a NEW set. So, unless you have the $$$ to spend on the SUPER sets, here's my recommendation if you're a fan that wants to dip your toes beyond the original canon; currently (4/19/14) you can purchase the 2002 and 2012 DELUXE EDITIONS of THE VU & NICO and the DELUXE WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, in no less than "Like New" condition, for about $55, a little more than half the price of the THE VU & NICO SUPER DELUXE set. You would be getting Remastered versions of the first album in stereo AND the superior mono mix, the superior stereo mix of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, the five most VU-like songs off CHELSEA GIRL, mono mixes of their first two singles, both rare pre- recordings from Scepter Studios and The Factory, six rarities in great remastered sound, and one of the last concerts of the WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT band, again in "remarkable quality." The only things you'll be missing is the good but not great show with Nico, four songs from CHELSEA GIRL that have limited VU involvement, the mono version of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and it's two mono single sides. The mono album and singles were actually just fold-downs of the stereo masters anyway, and anyone who has a copy of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT has the separate sections of "The Gift" already. If you want to hear the instrumental or recitation separately, all you have to do is turn your balance knob all the way to the right and left.....!

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND is a band that's loved by some, reviled by others, some think they are genius, others think they're degenerate, some when first hearing them fall in love, others run screaming, but no wonder what YOU think, there's no doubt about their influence and legacy. They may be an acquired taste, but once you acquire it you never lose or forget it. All these sets expand and do justice to their legacy, No matter what path you chose, if you're a VELVETS fan you won't be disappointed......
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on 15 April 2017
Interesting but not my cup of tea but understand how it influenced music
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When the recent DELUXE and SUPER DELUXE versions of 'THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO' and 'WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT' were first announced I was fairly disgusted with the price of the SUPER DELUXE EDITIONS. Here's a rundown of their contents, and at the end we'll discuss their value for money and cheaper options. Let's begin with the new releases of their first iconic album.......

I already owned the first THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO Deluxe Edition from 2002 featuring the album's stereo and (superior) mono versions, the five most VELVET-like tracks from NICO's 'CHELSEA GIRL" and mono versions of the singles "All Tomorrow's Parties"/"I'll Be Your Mirror" and "Sunday Morning"/"Femme Fatale." The first pressing (which I have) also had the "peelable" banana. The 2012 45th ANNIVERSARY version's first disc contains a REMIXED version of the stereo album, four alternate takes ("All Tomorrows Parties," "Heroin," "European Son" and "I'll Be Your Mirror") and an instrumental take of "All Tomorrow's Parties." The second disc has the oft-bootleged "Scepter Studio Sessions," with nine of the album's eleven songs recorded before the Verve album, and six "Factory Rehearsals" recorded on January 3, 1966 that contain the rarities "Walk Alone," "Crackin' Up" and "Miss Joanie Lee.".....

The six disc SUPER DELUXE LIMITED EDITION of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO comes in a 10" x 11" hardcover book with the de rigeur peelable banana. The first disc is the same as disc one of the 2012 DELUXE EDITION, Disc Two is the same as Disc 2 of the 2002 DELUXE EDITION. Disc Three contains the stereo mix of NICO's 'CHELSEA GIRL' and Disc Four is the same as Disc 2 of the 2012 DELUXE EDITION. Discs Five & Six contain a live concert recorded November 4, 1966 in Columbus, OH at the Valleydale Ballroom. It is, I believe, the only surviving full concert of the line-up with Nico. They perform seven songs from the debut album sandwiched between a 28min. "Melody Laughter" and a 28min. "Nothing Song." The sound quality is comparable to a fair bootleg, slightly better than LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY but not as good as the LIVE 1969 Vol. 1 and LIVE 1969 Vol. 2 sets, but an unquestionably historic document, nonetheless. I was also impressed with Nico's contributions to the controlled noise fests that bookend the concert, belying tales that she was only interested in her "spotlite" performances. The book itself is printed on high quality paper and contains mostly unpublished photos, none of which I could find in other VELVETS books such as "The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side." My only complaints are the high price, that the discs are in slots in the rear of the book, and more importantly, they left off the superior mono mix of CHELSEA GIRL even though they had room on the stereo disc. Fans of this version have to either track down an old LP or buy Sundazed's The Verve/MGM ALBUMS, a vinyl box set of the first three albums and CHELSEA GIRL in mono, and the "lost album" '1969' in stereo......

This three disc WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 45th Anniversary SUPER DELUXE EDITION comes in a similar hardcover book of the same quality. The first disc contains the original stereo album and seven bonus tracks. "I Heard Her Call My Name" is an alternate version, "Stephanie Says" and "Temptation Inside Your Heart" were previously available on the VU compilation, "Guess I'm Falling In Love (instrumental version)," "Hey Mr. Rain (Version 1)" and "Hey Mr. Rain (Version 2)" are new mixes of tracks first released on the compilation ANOTHER VIEW, and there's a previously unreleased early version of "Beginning To See The Light." All the bonus tracks, especially those previously released, have benefited greatly from the new remastering. Disc Two has the mono version of the original album with the single mix of the title track and it's B-Side "Here She Comes Now" and "previous unreleased isolated vocal and instrumental versions" of "The Gift." The real treat is on Disc Three, a seven song concert by the WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT group on April 30, 1967 at NYC's Gymnasium in, to quote John Cale, "remarkable quality." It contains the rare tracks "Booker T.," "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore" and "Guess I'm Falling In Love." The first and third were previously released on the 'PEEL SLOWLY AND SEE" set......

The two disc 'WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 45th Anniversary DELUXE EDITION' contains Discs One and Three of the SUPER DELUXE set, and is therefore a bargain. I have to admit, when I first heard there was to be a 2CD version, I figured it would contain Discs One and Two, forcing the real fans to shell out for the rare great concert. I was more than pleasantly pleased when I found that the concert disc was to be included. The only MINOR nitpick I have is there's no photo of the alternate European cover anywhere. For such a revered album you think they'd want to "cover" all bases, but it's a drop in the ocean compared to the value of this set......

I was extremely lucky, one day I was checking prices and found a "Like New" used copy of the THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO SUPER DELUXE EDITION for about $10 a disc, which I think would be a fair price for a NEW set. So, unless you have the $$$ to spend on the SUPER sets, here's my recommendation if you're a fan that wants to dip your toes beyond the original canon; currently (4/19/14) you can purchase the 2002 and 2012 DELUXE EDITIONS of THE VU & NICO and the DELUXE WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, in no less than "Like New" condition, for about $55, a little more than half the price of the THE VU & NICO SUPER DELUXE set. You would be getting Remastered versions of the first album in stereo AND the superior mono mix, the superior stereo mix of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, the five most VU-like songs off CHELSEA GIRL, mono mixes of their first two singles, both rare pre- recordings from Scepter Studios and The Factory, six rarities in great remastered sound, and one of the last concerts of the WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT band, again in "remarkable quality." The only things you'll be missing is the good but not great show with Nico, four songs from CHELSEA GIRL that have limited VU involvement, the mono version of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and it's two mono single sides. The mono album and singles were actually just fold-downs of the stereo masters anyway, and anyone who has a copy of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT has the separate sections of "The Gift" already. If you want to hear the instrumental or recitation separately, all you have to do is turn your balance knob all the way to the right and left.....!

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND is a band that's loved by some, reviled by others, some think they are genius, others think they're degenerate, some when first hearing them fall in love, others run screaming, but no wonder what YOU think, there's no doubt about their influence and legacy. They may be an acquired taste, but once you acquire it you never lose or forget it. All these sets expand and do justice to their legacy, No matter what path you chose, if you're a VELVETS fan you won't be disappointed......
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I can think of only two other albums like The Velvet Underground's debut that have influenced so much and so many - and had such a staggering and lasting cultural impact - "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles and "Never Mind The Bollocks..." by The Sex Pistols. When I worked at Reckless in the West End we kept at least 100 copies of the Velvet's debut on new 180grams reissue vinyl for eager punters to snap up on a daily basis - without question the biggest selling reissue album we ever had. No other LP short of Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" or Nirvana's "Nevermind" has had such a devoted and long-lasting following. And for those who can't afford (nor want) the Super Deluxe 6-Disc version that came out in October 2012 - this 2CD Deluxe Edition gives a scratchy arm all the needles it'll need. Here are the Femme Fatales and Andy Warhols...

Released June 2002 - "The Velvet Underground & Nico" is a 2CD DELUXE EDITION on Universal/Polydor 0731458958826 and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (60:18 minutes):
1. Sunday Morning
2. I'm Waiting For The Man
3. Femme Fatale [Vocals by Nico]
4. Venus In Furs
5. Run, Run, Run
6. All Tomorrow's Parties [Vocals by Nico]
7. Heroin [Side 2]
8. There She Goes Again
9. I'll Be Your Mirror
10. The Black Angel's Death Song
11. European Son
Tracks 1 to 11 are the STEREO VERSION of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" - their debut album released March 1967 in the USA on Verve V6-5008 and November 1967 in the UK on Verve SVLP 9184 [For Mono Variant see Disc 2]

12. Little Sister
13. Winter Song
14. It Was A Pleasure Then
15. Chelsea Girls
16. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
Tracks 12 to 16 are from "Chelsea Girl"- the solo debut album by NICO released October 1967 on Verve V6-5032 (Stereo) and finally released in the UK in September 1971 on MGM Select 2353 025 (Stereo)

Disc 2 (77:33 minutes):
1. Sunday Morning
2. I'm Waiting For The Man
3. Femme Fatale [Vocals by Nico]
4. Venus In Furs
5. Run, Run, Run
6. All Tomorrow's Parties [Vocals by Nico]
7. Heroin [Side 2]
8. There She Goes Again
9. I'll Be Your Mirror
10. The Black Angel's Death Song
11. European Son
Tracks 1 to 11 are the MONO VERSION of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" released March 1967 in the USA on Verve V-5008 and November 1967 in the UK on Verve VLP 9184 [For Stereo Variant see Disc 1]

12. All Tomorrow's Parties (Single Version),
13. I'll Be Your Mirror (12 and 13 issued July 1966 as the A&B-sides of a US 7" single on Verve VK-10427. Both tracks feature NICO on Lead Vocals, are in MONO and were not issued in the UK as a single. "I'll Be Your Mirror" the 'single version' features an alternate ending to the cut on the LP)

14. Sunday Morning (Single Version)
15. Femme Fatale (Single Version) (14 and 15 issued December 1966 as the A&B-sides of a US 7" single on Verve VK-10466. "Femme Fatale" features NICO on Lead Vocals, is in Mono and was not issued in the UK)

Compiled by BILL LEVINSON and remastered by BOB LUDWIG and JEFF WILLENS - they've done a fantastic job with an album that is notoriously lo-fi on purpose (Produced by Andy Warhol with Nico credited as a 'Chanteuse'). The foldout flaps of the digipak feature reviews of the album from various trade papers of the time, album credits, suitably blurry photos of the band beneath the see-through trays and a 28-page booklet that has classy black and white snaps of the group's famous shows (mostly live shots) and some studies of Nico. The Dave Thompson liner notes (Pages 3 to 12) go deep into the album's explosive history, there's lyrics to all the songs and original US issues (Universal 314 589 624-2) even has a 'peelable' banana on the front flap to repro the rare first pressings on vinyl (now worth a King's ransom).

Flower-power ladies, loved up hippies and peace-in-our-time acid droppers got the fright of their lives when "The Velvet Underground & Nico" was released in the spring of 1967. It painted a seriously dark picture of a counter-culture that was already writhing in sweaty withdrawal. Drugs and their all-pervasive effect of everything you hold dear permeates almost every song - scoring them ("I'm Waiting For The Man"), doing them ("Venus In Furs") and then selling your body and eventually your soul to get more ("Run, Run, Run"). And all of this despair is wrapped up in jagged melodies, droll voices (American and German) and distorted guitars that sound like they're being tortured by CIA operatives determined to find a Communist. But I suspect that like "Bollocks" - the real reason the album has endured so long is precisely because it's so brutally honest - where one track is actually called "Heroin" - and the others barely disguise such a controversial subject matter. And yet there's inexplicable prettiness too - the gorgeous opener "Sunday Morning" sung by Lou Reed as if he hasn't a care in the world - while Nico scores massively with three vocal beauties - "Femme Fatale", the ragged piano of "All Tomorrow's Parties" and the delicate "I'll Be Your Mirror". Even now it's an extraordinary piece of work and 'influential' barely touches on its true impact down through the decades. It also has something you can't invent - it's effortlessly cool...

Of the two versions I actually find the MONO mix to be more powerful and direct (unavailable since its 1967 release) - the wild soloing of "Heroin" is so stunning and the jangly guitar of "There She Goes Again" much cleaner as it escapes your speakers. And with Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed and John Cale all contributing to the NICO solo tracks - it's hardly surprising they bookend Disc 1. The flute and dry nature of "Chelsea Girls" with "Bridget all wrapped in foil..." matches the Velvets album perfectly while the eight-minutes of the (admittedly hissy) "It Was A Pleasure Then" feels just as druggy as anything on the "Banana Peel" debut.

Will we ever know its like again? Will I ever find an unpeeled 'banana sleeve' in a dollar bin or carboot sale - no is the answer. But at least with this superb Universal DE Edition you can get to understand what all the fuss and iconography is about.

"$26 in my hand...more dead than alive..." Lou Reed sings on "I'm Waiting For The Man". Well in 2014 you'll get your fix for a lot less now - and in this case - it's worth every blood red cent...
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This really is the way to do super deluxe reissues. Eschewing silly gimmicks, it's basically a coffee-table book, beautifully produced, with 6 CDs in slots at the back and, of course, a peelable banana on the front. The essay by Richie Unterberger is well-informed - as far as is possible because there seems to be quite a lot of uncertainty about exact dates etc. - and well written, though a little bland; I particularly like the opening list of negative and random factors that should have prevented the album from ever having been made, and the informed speculation about why it took nearly a year for the album to be issued. Much of the book consists of photographs, most of which I've never seen before, both of the Velvets and associates (often in live performance) and of different versions of the original album cover, gig handbills etc.

The mastering is superb throughout, the amount of detail they've got out of the original tapes is extremely impressive and both the stereo and mono versions of the released album sound magnificent, and better than ever before, as does Nico's Chelsea Girls album, included here in its entirety. Notably it is mastered quite a bit quieter than the previous 2 CD deluxe edition - it sounds quite noticeably different overall as well. As I predicted in my review of the grey-market Unripened - Sweden, the contents of the legendary Scepter Studios/Norman Dolph acetate featuring an early/demo version of the album get an official release as part of a box set. However, the scratches, noise and occasional jumps of Unripened are largely a thing of the past: one of the 2 session reels has survived and the mono mixes of the tracks it contributed to the acetate (European Son, Black Angel's Death Song, All Tomorrow's Parties and Heroin) have been recreated (evidently the mixdown tape from which the acetate was cut is long lost, though this isn't mentioned) and the full length European Son and alternate Heroin have also been given new and excellent stereo mixes (there aren't 3 different takes of any track, though it does rather look that way from the track listing). Those tracks which HAVE been taken from the acetate (I'll Be Your Mirror, Femme Fatale, Venus In Furs, Waiting For The Man and Run Run Run) have apparently been taken from a different copy that was in the possession of Maureen Tucker. A little noise is present, especially on Femme Fatale, and there are muffled pops in places, but overall they sound way better than Unripened and there are no jumps. I guess the most unexpected inclusion is an instrumental mix of All Tomorrow's Parties, which allows clearer examination of John Cale's extraordinary piano part.

I've not heard bootlegs of the January 1966 rehearsal tape; it's interesting, and a very good recording, though likely to be the least listened-to part of the set as songs stop and start, apart from a very good version of Heroin. The section with Lou singing (or much of the time, reciting) the lyrics of Venus In Furs over Bo Diddley's Crackin' Up is a gas, as is the version of There She Goes Again featuring Nico - you can hear why Lou sang it on the album, it's just not in her key. If Maureen Tucker is present on this session, she only plays a little tambourine, which is a shame, but there's a lot of nice guitar playing from Lou and Sterling.

Finally, spread over 2 CDs, we get the entire Valleydale Ballroom performance from 4 November 1966. There are far worse-sounding bootlegs out there, and it sounds a little better than a version I downloaded not that long ago, but it's fair to say that the sound is seriously flawed, and in places pretty rough. To my ears, this is less down to the recording, which must originally have been pretty clear and well balanced - you can hear all the instruments well enough - than it is to the state of that tape at the point it was copied to another one prior to finding its way onto the bootleg market. It suffers wobbles, distortion and dropouts in places but the overall sound balance, otherwise unheard material (the long jams that open and close the performance) and excellent performances of material from the album make it essential, and it's far from unlistenable; it certainly has no rivals from this period of the Velvets. It's also worth noting that, without losing any of the music, it runs quite a bit shorter than the available bootlegs, so clearly quite a bit of between song tuning etc. has been edited out. Since it's spread over 2 discs, this was for cosmetic reasons not space.

Really there's only one thing wrong with this set - a minor quibble but a shame nonetheless - and that is the absence of the record that started it all, The Ostrich, which Lou Reed recorded when he worked at Pickwick Records. The Ostrich, and even more so its B-side, Sneaky Pete, point the way to the Velvet Underground and have never been officially reissued or cleaned up. It's even more bizarre given how much Richie Unterberger's essay dwells on how attempts to promote it with a live band resulted in Lou Reed meeting John Cale; I had not previously realised that it was a producer at Pickwick, not Lou Reed, who had met Cale at a party, felt he looked the part and, discovering he actually was a musician, recruited him to be a member of The Primitives and introduced him to Lou; none of these recordings would exist otherwise.

Clearly this is not aimed at those unfamiliar with the original album, which is why I've not reviewed it. It's a 5 star album and then some. But for those for whom it's an old friend, this is essential, and that friend has got a whole heap of new stuff to tell you! Let's hope they do similar for White Light/White Heat and the 3rd album (and VU/Another View material).
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