Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground

Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground

Rob Jovanovic

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 1250000149

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

With exclusive new interviews from the band, this is a captivating account of one of the most influential groups in rock history.

Brian Eno famously said "the first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band." Perhaps no other musicians can claim such limited chart success and so enduring a musical legacy as The Velvet Underground. Artists including David Bowie, The Sex Pistols, Joy Division, Roxy Music, Nirvana, U2, R.E.M., and even dissident Czech playwright and eventual president Václav Havel have cited the Velvets as a major influence.

Seeing the Light presents the untold story of the band. Formed by the mercurial Lou Reed and classically trained Welshman John Cale in the mid-1960s, the band first gained notoriety after being adopted by Andy Warhol. Warhol's patronage allowed the group to chart unexplored regions of rock 'n' roll, producing unforgettable and unsettling music that veered from droning, avant-garde experimentalism to folk-infused pop, offering taboo-busting tales of drug addiction, prostitution, and sexual deviance. Creative tensions and frustrated ambition eventually saw both Cale and Reed leave the band, to its ignominious end.

In the decades since, The Velvet Underground's music has attained classic status, revered alongside The Beatles and The Beach Boys as one of the sources of modern pop. With exclusive new interviews from members Moe Tucker and Doug Yule, as well as the widow of their bandmate Sterling Morrison, journalist Rob Jovanovic peels back the mystique of one of the most important bands in rock history.

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majority of this was too extreme for Velvet Underground consideration and anyway, lyrics would have spoilt the aural experimentations of repetitive drones and simple recurring themes. ‘Stainless Steel Gamelan’ was one such piece and sounded like an improvised steam train’s bell being carried along on a bed of droning guitars – for ten and a half minutes. By the mid-1960s, rock bands were taking over, and usually wore some kind of costume or uniform to make themselves more entertaining and

Maclise lived in an apartment down the hall from Cale and shared some of the Welshman’s musical sensibilities. ‘Angus was the most rabidly artistic of us all,’ recalled Morrison. ‘It wasn’t long then before I met Piero Heliczer and learned what the underground film scene was about, the things we did changed the direction of my life.’ Maclise was a Connecticut native, four years older than Cale, who had undertaken an eclectic series of musical training regimes throughout his life. From Haitian

change his life. After all, it’s not every day you get a call out of the blue asking you to join The Velvet Underground. He packed a small bag and called a friend, who as luck would have it, was right that moment preparing to drive down to New York City, which is where he needed to be that night. Forgetting all about the shower, he jumped in the car and set off for the Big Apple and the life of a rock musician. Within a year the whole atmosphere surrounding The Velvet Underground had

see it and it kind of opens your head up, and you say, “Oh wow, I could see a million things that I could do here!”’ Why, and how Doug Yule was asked to join The Velvet Underground is still somewhat puzzling. They needed a bass player and he didn’t play bass; he was 21 years old, four or five years younger than the others, and he had no experience of playing with a large-scale band that did tours and recorded albums. Steve Sesnick called Yule and just asked him straight out: ‘How would you like

have them say all the songs were written by everybody, and then list me last?’ raged Reed. The front cover of Loaded was designed by the 37-year-old Warsaw-born artist Stanislaw Zagorski. His impression of ‘underground’ meant ‘subway’, so he produced an illustration of a subway entrance with pink smoke billowing out. He’d previously designed covers for Ornette Coleman and the Modern Jazz Quartet. For some reason the Dutch version of Loaded had green, instead of pink, smoke on the cover. Reed

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