This Velvet Underground Rarities Collection Can Be Treasurable for Their Die-Hard Fans
Written: Nov 13, 2010
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:These songs are quite good, even though they are mostly throwaways.
Cons:...Well, it's a rag-tag bunch of rarities, isn't it?
The Bottom Line: For the die-hard fans only, Another View, will complete your Velvet Underground collection after purchasing 1985's VU. It's quite good, too!
(Disclaimer: Those looking for an overall description of the album will find what they're looking for in the "Review Body" section. The section titled "Track Reviews" is meant only for those who want to read detailed descriptions of the songs, and they do not constitute the essence of this review. Lastly and most importantly, this review might not be written in the point of view of a Velvet Underground fan.)
Overall Score: 10/15
Best song: “Rock and Roll”
Worst song: “Ride into the Sun”
There were 19 unreleased Velvet Underground tracks discovered in the MGM Record vaults that fateful fay in the mid-'80s, and the best 10 of them were singled out and released in 1985 on the much celebrated VU. The nine rejects were dumped onto Another View. Now, I bet you're asking yourself: How could a compilation of rejects possibly be any good? Well, this is The Velvet Underground, and they've never released a bad album. So of course it's good. This was originally released as a bonus disc, which came with MGM reissues of The Velvet's first three albums on vinyl and CD. Today, this compilation can be bought separately.
It opens with the strikingly clean and fun, however generic rocker “We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together.” You can hurl insults at it like catchy and dumb. You can also say that a better version of it can be heard on 1969: The Velvet Underground Live. But that doesn't matter; get up off yer chair, and wiggle your booty. It might be generic, but it's unapologetic about it. (There's also a version of it on Reed's 1978 solo album, Street Hassle. I'm not sure I'd call it better, though.)
Boringly enough, my pick for best song of the album is an early cut of “Rock and Roll.” It's the only song The Velvet Underground had already written that Atlantic would allow them to record for Loaded. ...And why did they let them record that song? Because it's friggin' awesome, that's why. There's no doubt that its final cut is by far its definitive version—if for no other reason it's that Reed perfected those flashy intonations in his vocals. But anyway, “Rock and Roll” is one of my favorite songs ever, and it's novel to be able to hear it at an early stage of its evolution.
There are two version of “Hey Mr. Rain,” a song from the John Cale era. You can hear Cale play his trademark droning viola through both of these tracks. However, just as I am about to say “Ain't it nice to hear that viola again?” I realize that his sound is completely overpowering everything. It's a bit too much. I do like the second version of it better than the first version, mostly because I hear Sterling Morrison (or someone?) come in with these HUGE fuzz guitar hits, which is really cool to hear! Also, Reed's vocals don't seem quite as warbly and off-putting as it does in the second version even though I still hear him doing these rather insane vocal bends throughout it. A lot of people like to call the song some sort of lost masterpiece, and I won't deny that it had strong potential. However, it's clear to me they had a lot of kinks to work out before it could ever come close to resembling one of their great songs.
There are an enormous amount of jammy instrumentals here. One of them, “Ride Into the Sun,” would later have vocals attached to it and be included on Reed's solo debut. It's an OK track as an instrumental, but without the vocals it's just boring. “I'm Gonna Move Right In” is six and a half minutes long, and is a perfectly standard jam-rock instrumental. I don't hear Morrison taking many chances with his lead guitar, but it can be quite entertaining listening to him jam along with that steady beat all the same. ...However, I do get tired of it after about three minutes of it. They ramped up that fuzz guitar just about as high as it could go for “Guess I'm Falling in Love.” Maureen Tucker follows suit with some HUGE drumming. ...Woah boy. It might not be one of the “substantial” Velvet Underground tracks, but it sure gets the blood flowing.
Two of the lesser pop songs here are “Coney Island Steeplechase” and “Ferryboat Bill.” The former actually has a pretty catchy old-timey melody, but it needed a lot of work. Tucker's drumming is mixed waaaay too loudly. “Ferryboat Bill” might not be terribly great, but at least it earns distinction as being one of the most bizarre songs to ever have the Velvet Underground name attached to it; it consists of a very tight and repetitive guitar-groove. It's so repetitive, in fact, that it drives me insane. And not in the good way. (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is a good way to drive me insane. Take me to a Terry Gilliam or Michel Gondry film.)
Obviously, this outtakes/rarities album is fit only for their die-hard fans. Nonetheless, I'd imagine many die-hard fans put this on from time to time and get a kick out of it. As a collection of outtakes that were left off of the previous collection of outtakes, the material on here can be expected to be spotty. Nevertheless, it's still quite good. This shows that there was creativity flowing out of these guys such that even their throwaway tracks are more or less worth hearing.
We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together A-
Well this is quite a straightforward song for them! It's a simple, upbeat pop-rocker with Lou Reed (and Yule on back-ups?) rock 'n' roll song with a basic pop-rock riff, repetitive (and kind of dumb) melody, with some handclaps at the end. It's quite catchy, of course, but certainly not the sort of melody that lingers on in my mind long after its done. The production sounds very smooth and clean, which shows the signs that they probably did the mixing in the '80s when these tapes were discovered. Anyway, it's somewhat forgettable and I'm sure these guys considered it a “throwaway” at the time anyway. Fortunately, it's a lot of fun.
I'm Gonna Move Right In B
It was a very good thing the record executives did by releasing only the cream of the crop for VU and left the relatively underwhelming stuff on this disc... It saves non die-hard Velvet Underground fans from having to buy this. (However, originally, they only released this album as a bonus disc to a reissuing of The Velvet's first three albums... well I guess die-hard fans would've bought the reissues anyway!) Well this is a six-and-a-half minute jam instrumental. They sounded great when they jam on their live albums, but here … with all this crystal-clear production … it's just a whole lotta meh. They jam in a sort of conventional way... Keeping the beat, and Sterling Morrison does the usual bluesy finger-work with a high-pitched guitar.
Hey Mr. Rain (Version 1) B+
John Cale? …I remember you! ...This is one of those songs that huge Velvet Underground fanatics like to single out as a lost gem, but I don't really see what's the big deal with it. Other than, I guess, we get to hear John Cale's droning viola play throughout it. Usually, he doesn't seem terribly interested in playing in-tune, although that's just John Cale for you. The drumbeat is very subdued and hidden in the background, and the lead guitar plays rather jangly. ...The atmosphere of it is certainly unique, and Reed gives a very odd vocal performance that comes off as a bit freaked out and wobbly. It picks up slightly with intensity by he end, but it's not quite enough... Obviously, this is just an outtake, and I can see some potential in this.
Ride Into the Sun B-
This is another instrumental! It sounds like their instrumentals were burning up as though they were riding into the sun... Especially that electric guitar that's just playing long-drawn-out and frequently out-of-tune in the background. Apparently Reed had lyrics written for this, because he redid this song for his debut album and that song had lyrics! Anyway, its chord sequence sounds like a modified version of “Pachelbel's Canon,” which I don't think I ever noticed quite as starkly with the remade version. Anyway, I'm kind of bored sitting through this... The version on Lou Reed is about a billion times better.
Coney Island Steeplechase B
Again, this is a perfectly good song... The melody is a very catchy sort of old-timey ditty. Reed sounds like he's singing it in a megaphone like... er... Rudy Vallee, I guess. He just sounds very low in the mix and the guitars come off as muddy. Tucker keeps a steady beat at least. ...This didn't end up in Lou Reed's Coney Island Baby... Contrary to what I thought prior to looking it up just now....
Guess I'm Falling In Love A-
WOW... They REALLY muddled up those guitars for this one. ...I said I didn't like the muddled sound in the previous one, but that was because it didn't suit it. Here, at least, they use that EXTREMELY DISTORTED sound to create something quite exciting and fun. Maureen Tucker comes in with thunderous drums to match. This is an instrumental, and it's pretty clear they were just screwing around in the studio, possibly warming up.
Hey Mr. Rain (Version II) A-
Ah, I bet you saw that coming. You saw that “Version I” written in between those parentheses and you probably thought to yourself: “You know, I bet there's gonna be a Version II!” ...Well for what it's worth, I like this version a little better. It actually makes me quite dizzy and want to vomit... In other words, it actually gets a gut reaction from me. It also helps that Cale's viola is a little deeper in the background, and I like those occasional blasts of fuzz guitar that pops up in the background. Reed's vocals aren't shaky like they were in the previous take, but they're still weird ...It really shows that this is an outtake, and this had the potential of being something very cool if they chose to flesh it out. I'm assuming they just didn't know where to take it.
Ferryboat Bill B
This must be Lonesome Cowboy Bill's little brother who isn't right in the head... What I like about this is the fact that they had the gall to create a very weird, neverending loop that strives to do nothing else but drive the living crap out of me crazy. This is so weird that I can't see how they thought a record company would have let them released it. ...Well, now, we have things like new wave and freaky art-rock so something like this seems tame in comparison. Tucker is tapping, tapping, tapping away at those drums so busily that she probably couldn't possibly put any fills in there... if she even wanted to. The guitars are extremely repetitive, playing up and down the scale over and over again. Reed comes up with a melody, but it's not catchy at all... though for some reason I find those high-pitched back-up vocals hilarious.
Rock and Roll A
Whoah! An alternate version of the awesome song from Loaded appears here! I thought Velvet Underground weren't allowed to do songs for Loaded that they were originally going to record for their forth MGM record? ...Oh, I guess Atlantic didn't like any of these songs... Except of course for “Rock and Roll,” which rules. The riffs are fantastic, and Tucker's drumming is actually quite fun to listen to here. The big drawback with this outtake version is Reed's vocals... He of course perfected it brilliantly for Loaded. Here, he seemed to still be working out those charming intonations that he does.
No doubt, this is a record ONLY for diehard Velvet Underground archivists. ...People who picked up The Velvet's four classic albums and could take them or leave them won't find much to love here.