Results for Velvet Underground

interviews

John Cale

Sound Opinions on Chicago Public Radio begins with Jim and Greg talking with the founding member of the Velvet Underground, John Cale.

Go to episode 1
specials

Live Albums

The concept of a Live Album is a controversial one for many rock fans. Some see these releases as merely filler between proper new albums. And some see these records as a way to experience a specific musical moment again. For Jim and Greg, the following are great albums because they either bring something new to an artist's work, or capture a time worth remembering. As you gear up for the summer concert season, enjoy the following live albums:

Go to episode 179

Remembering Lou Reed

Rock legend, poet and Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed died on October 27 at age 71. That week Jim honored him with the addition of the Velvet Underground track"Candy Says" to the Desert Island Jukebox. But, this influential singer, songwriter and guitarist deserves more than just a few minutes of our time. He helped shape 50 years of rock music, perhaps more than any single figure, according to our hosts. And so they wanted to explore why news of his death made such waves and why fans are still mourning. The best way to do this, of course, is through the music, and these five albums in particular:

Go to episode 417
classic album dissections
Horses (Legacy Edition)Horses available on iTunes

Patti Smith Horses

"Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine." With that opening salvo on her debut album Horses, Patti Smith instantly established herself as a leading voice of the New York punk scene. Horses was released in December 1975, just over 40 years ago, so in honor of that milestone, Jim and Greg give it the Classic Album Dissection treatment. At that point, Smith had been kicking around New York City as a poet and a music writer, performing readings of her work while backed by Lenny Kaye on guitar and Richard Sohl on piano. These shows earned her enough buzz to get a contract with Arista Records and head into Electric Lady Studios to record Horses, with Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale behind the board as producer.

Right from her androgynous appearance in Robert Mapplethorpe's cover photo, Patti Smith defied all categorization on Horses. Jim and Greg cite the album as a great work of self-mythologizing, with Smith cultivating a magnetic public persona. The record veers from accessible yet lyrically disturbing songs like "Redondo Beach" and "Kimberly," to epic multi-part suites like "Birdland" and "Land." With Horses, Smith changed the rules for what a rock star could be and remains an influence generations later.

Go to episode 531
reviews
Lust Lust Lust (Deluxe)Lust Lust Lust available on iTunes

The Raveonettes Lust Lust Lust

This week's final review is of Lust Lust Lust, the third album from Danish pop duo The Raveonettes. Jim and Greg both agree that one of the primary influences of the band is The Jesus and Mary Chain. Just like the Scottish group, The Raveonettes's music is full of heavy, feedback-drenched guitar. It's a sound Jim describes as "Velvet Underground meets Phil Spector." Greg is impressed by guitarist Sune Rose Wagner's minimalist technique; he understands the importance of not overplaying. But, over a dozen tracks he thinks the sound is a little“samey”and can only give Lust Lust Lust a Burn It. Jim finds the album entirely too derivative. He explains that if he wants to hear sexy, dark garage rock, he might as well get out his Jesus and Mary Chain record. Jim thinks there's no reason to own The Raveonettes' album and gives it a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 119
Sweet Heart Sweet LightSweet Heart Sweet Light available on iTunes

Spiritualized Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Jason Pierce, the force behind Spiritualized, isn't shy about returning to his inspirations, album after album. There's the noise/melody combo of the Velvet Underground, German art rock, gospel music and free jazz. But melding those elements together well is no small feat. He does it again on Sweet Heart Sweet Light, which Greg says is good, but only 2nd tier. He‘d refer listeners back to 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. The new one is just a Burn It. Jim is forced to bite his tongue when he hears this, as he sees Sweet Heart Sweet Light as Spiritualized's most optimistic album to date. Pierce has battled a lot of pain and fought liver disease, and the musical result is a masterpiece. Jim says Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 334
FadeFade available on iTunes

Yo La Tengo Fade

Indie veterans Yo La Tengo started making their version of the Velvet Underground's droning guitar rock in 1984. Jim and Greg have been listening ever since. (Jim - our own“Son of Jersey”- even caught the band's first show at Maxwell's in Hoboken). Over 13 albums, Jim says, Yo La's established itself as a band of impeccable taste. Greg admits their last few contemplative mood records have sounded a bit“samey.”Do they shake things up on the latest release, Fade? Both Greg and Jim say“yes.”The strings and "John Fahey-esque" acoustic guitar are pleasant surprises. As Greg notes, Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley's ruminations on their decades-long relationship give Fade a cohesive feel. It gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 373
dijs

Jim

“Candy Says”Velvet Underground

It's safe to say that few artists did more to establish rock and roll than Lou Reed. In fact, both Jim and Greg said as much in their obituaries of the music legend, who died last week at age 71. He deserves more than just a track in the Desert Island Jukebox, but for this episode, one will have to do. It's "Candy Says," a song by the Velvet Underground writen by Reed that, Jim explains, highlights the songwriter's contributions to Slowcore and his amazing sense of compassion.

Go to episode 414

Jim

“Mushroom”Can

Jim is always excited by the opportunity to talk about one of his favorite bands: Can. The pioneering German band took that trademark Velvet Underground drone and updated with elements of punk rock. And on its second album Tago Mago, Can was joined by experimental lead singer Damo Suzuki. A 40th anniversary reissue of Tago Mago was released late last year, so Jim adds a classic track from the album, "Mushroom," to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 320
lists

Unconventional Love Songs

It's easy to get overloaded with sugar on Valentine's Day, especially when it comes to love songs. So Jim and Greg welcome an antidote: Unconventional Love Songs. Here are their favorite, slightly off-kilter love songs.

  • The Byrds, "Triad"
  • Concrete Blonde, "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)"
  • Velvet Underground, "Venus in Furs"
  • The Beatles, "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"
  • Black Sabbath, "Sweet Leaf"
  • Alice in Chains, "Junkhead"
  • Lester Bangs & The Delinquents, "I'm In Love with My Walls"
  • Neil Young, "Will to Love"
Go to episode 168
features

SXSW '06

This week on the show, Jim and Greg share their recent experiences at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Our hosts joined over 10,000 other festival registrants to attend music industry panels, conduct interviews, and most importantly, see new bands. In the four days they were there, Jim and Greg heard a lot of music. They share some of the best with you.

  • First is The Dresden Dolls. Jim went to see the Boston group and fell in love with their blend of German cabaret performance style and '80s synth-pop melodies. You can hear a little bit of "Modern Moonlight" off their upcoming release, Yes Virginia.

  • Next up, Greg discusses one his finds: Art Brut. He enjoyed this British band's straightforward melodies, catchy choruses, and witty monologues so much that he saw them twice in Austin. This critic even scrawled“New Kings of Rock”in his notebook following one performance. Jim joined him to see the band at the Pitchfork/Windish party, where they shared a bill with RJD2, Spank Rock, and one of Greg's other discoveries, Swedish indie pop quintet Love is All. Art Brut, who just recently played a sold-out show at the Metro, entertained the entire staff so much that they were invited to appear on the show the week after the festival wrapped. Listen for that interview in the weeks to come.

Beastie Boys at SXSW 2006

  • In between running from show to show, Jim and Greg took a brief moment to sit down with The Beastie Boys. The hip-hop pioneers were down in Austin to promote their recent concert film, Awesome; I Fucking Shot That, and spoke to Jim and Greg about making the movie, sampling, copyright laws, and the longevity of their career.

  • Back to the rundown of our hosts‘ favorite Austin discoveries. Jim’s next pick, The Black Angels, actually hails from the Texas state capital. After reading Jim's book on psychedelic rock, members of the band contacted him and explained that they were right up his alley. They were right. Jim, who caught some of the dark, Velvet Underground-influenced music in the sterile environment of Austin Convention Center, was totally blown away. To describe the band, he quotes their website which begs the listener to "Picture a red moonlit night, deep in the heart of Texas, with the ghosts of Nico and Timothy Leary being called back from the dead to guide you on a journey through Heaven & Hell and back again." Whoa, man…

  • Greg loves coming to Austin to see bands that may not get to the States otherwise. One such band is Serena Maneesh. The Norwegian group is one of many contemporary bands compared to My Bloody Valentine. Often referred to as“shoegazers,”these musicians are often literally standing, staring at their shoes, while producing a heavy, overdriven, almost symphonic guitar sound. Serena Maneesh is certainly channeling this influence — however, as Greg explains, this band is also quite performative. Our host describes how the lead guitar player, theatrically dressed as a gypsy showman, was joined by an“Amazonian”bass player. Only during SXSW can you see this in Texas, notes Jim.

Tim Fite at SXSW 2006

  • We next hear some audio of Jim recorded down in Austin. He is describing one of his favorite acts: Tim Fite. Some may remember Fite's previous incarnation in Little T and One Track Mic and their one hit, "Shaniqua." But after getting signed to Atlantic and touring with Outkast, Little T went nowhere. Now, Fite has reinvented himself as a 1920s southern preacher/rapper who combines an O Brother, Where Art Thou? sound with irreverent lyrics and hip-hop. Gone Ain't Gone is forthcoming on Anti-/Epitaph, making Fite label mates with Neko Case and Blackalicious.

  • The Swedish band Love is All (mentioned above) is another of Greg's discoveries. This Swedish indie-pop group is one of many European bands who are rediscovering American music. This band is particularly influenced by musicians like James Chance and the Contortions and Lydia Lunch who fused both jazz and punk. Love is All became Greg's go-to CD while he was driving around the city of Austin.

  • Listeners can now hear what Jim and Greg really sound like at SXSW: definitely over-tired, and perhaps over-served. Our hosts caught up with Sound Opinions H.Q. immediately after going to see Rhys Chatham at Austin's Central Presbyterian Church, an experience they described as slightly mind-blowing. The avant-garde guitarist has basically been living in exile in Paris for the past decade, but emerged in Austin with a newly-formed guitar army: eight guitarists including Doug McCombs of Eleventh Dream Day and Tortoise, Ernie Brooks of The Modern Lovers and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Jim reports that Chatham recently received a grant allowing him to realize his long-fantasized 100-member guitar ensemble.

  • One of the SXSW events Greg always tries to attend is Alejandro Escovedo's Sunday night show. This year Grady was one of the opening acts. Greg found their huge, overpowering sound on par with that of Chatham's guitar army. He also compares their sound to that of ZZ Top's early days. Listen for yourself as Greg plays a sample of their 2004 release Y.U. So Shady?

  • White Whale is Jim's final discovery. He caught the band at the Merge showcase, a label that usually delivers for this critic. He was again not disappointed. White Whale, whose members have been in a number of other indie rock bands including Butterglory, Three Higher Burning Fire and The Get Up Kids, impressed Jim with more than just its name. He found their sound to be a mix of Nick Drake and Pink Floyd, and also reminiscent of Elephant Six bands like Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. So far their music can only be heard on Myspace.com, but White Whale may turn out to be another SXSW success story.

  • Greg's final pick is a band called Katahdin's Edge. He caught the group after originally trying to see a Finnish band who couldn‘t make it into the country. He was blown away, and despite getting thousands of free CDs for his day job, Greg was compelled to put down his own money for a Katahdin’s Edge album. This trio from Providence is an example of how jazz and rock can fuse in a great way. Rather than take an academic approach to jazz, Katahdin's Edge had a rock and roll, party edge that Greg really appreciated.

  • Greg was also caught on tape before and after seeing the biggest hype of this year's festival: The Arctic Monkeys. This has been quite the year for the young British band. In January they broke records for first-week sales in the U.K. with their debut release Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. In addition, they‘ve been proclaimed by many in the press as the greatest band to emerge from the U.K. in years. That’s a lot for a new band to live up to, but Greg was pleased with what he saw. While the Arctic Monkeys may not be what their hype claims, the music was well-rehearsed, packed with rhythm, and downright“ferocious”according to our host. Plus, the lead singer already seems to have the rock and roll attitude down.

Go to episode 18
news

Music News

Every year it's interesting to look at what albums took the top slots on the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll. This is a much more accurate barometer of any given year in music than the Grammy Awards. However, this year Jim and Greg actually gave negative reviews to a lot of the Pazz & Jop winners including Watch the Throne and Let England Shake. But they were happy to see Tune-Yards' Whokill at #1.

Members of the Velvet Underground including John Cale and Lou Reed have filed a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts over the famous banana featured on their 1967 album cover. Warhol served as producer of the album and gave the band the image, however it was never copyrighted. And now the Velvets want to prevent the banana from going Apple.

Jimmy Castor isn‘t a household name, but chances are you’ve heard his music, or at least samples of it. He had a pop-funk hit with "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" in 1972, but also a string of funk and soul gems that ended up being sampled by hundreds of hip hop acts. Castor died this week at age 71, so to honor the late musician, Jim and Greg play one of the often-sampled tracks, "It's Just Begun."

Go to episode 321

Music News

Sound Opinions is sad to report the death of Stooges drummer Scott Asheton at age 64. This punk pioneer took the rhythms of Bo Diddley and the Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker and piled on the aggression, carving out the sound that would soon define punk, Jim explains. Listening to him pummel the drums on early Stooges albums, it's no surprise that Asheton (whose family couldn't afford a proper trap set) first learned to play by banging hammers on oil cans. Along with his brother Ron on guitar, Scott was described as the gasoline that Iggy's match set aflame. Jim and Greg honor the drummer by playing "1969" from the Stooges‘ debut album, a punk inferno that Asheton’s brutal rhythms kept burning bright.

It's the double feature that everybody was waiting for… in 1994. Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden are teaming up for a summer tour, just in time for the 20th anniversaries of NIN's Downward Spiral and Soundgarden's Superunknown. Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell says he's always been a NIN fan, and that he'd love to jam with the band onstage—but Trent Reznor might not be so enthused. Back in 2009, Reznor took Cornell to task on Sound Opinions, calling his Timbaland-produced solo album an“impressively bad”sell-out. Maybe NIN will bring on a more suitable collaborator for its next tour.

The 2014 SXSW Music Conference, normally a festive event, which brings tens of thousands of people to Austin every year, will unfortunately be remembered as a tragic one. A horrific car crash early Thursday morning resulted in the death of three people and the injury of many more. Also making headlines was Lady Gaga. The pop diva not only performed at a contoversial event for a snack food company, she gave the keynote address. According to Gaga, without sponsors, there wouldn‘t be music events; labels can’t afford it. A surprising assertion from a woman who later touted her music industry rebellion.

Go to episode 434