Despite the black market vibe of the title (Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes
), these grainy but historically significant live Velvet Underground recordings--taken from poorly attended shows in San Francisco during November 1969 (the post-John Cale
era)--have never been made available before, illegally or otherwise. Furthermore--and unlike most other bootleggers--avid young fan and tape recorder operative Robert Quine (an apprentice disciple of Lou Reed's savage guitar style and a future founding member of punk combo Richard Hell and the Voidoids
) didn't have to suffer the personal indignity of standing furtively at the back of the hall with a microphone stuffed down his trousers. Quine's recordings--initially made on cassette tape but later (and rather fortuitously) transferred to the more durable reel-to-reel format--were made with the band's blessing and enthusiasm but have remained hidden away ever since. Consisting of three CDs, the Bootleg Series Volume 1
set is further forensic proof, if needed, that the Velvet's seedy, dissonant, lurid, violent, anarchic pop was well out-of-step with the times but has remained decidedly in-step ever since. Specifically, these shows capture (courtesy of the mute audience philistinism) some kind of culture-clash between the West Coast's "flower in your hair" optimism and the Velvets' "spike into my vein" subterranean nihilism. With sheer bloody-mindedness, the Velvets' treat their audience to 38 soundboard-splintering, pornographic minutes of "Sister Ray", as well as kooky School Concert takes on "After Hours" and "I'm Sticking with You" and a "Venus in Furs" which--in the absence of John Cale's whiplash viola glissandos--creeps and crawls with Doug Yule's spooked Doors' organ. As Jonathan Richman once enquired, "How did they make that sound, Velvet Underground?". Dunno. But they did. And things have never been the same since. --Kevin Maidment
Close to four hours of vintage Velvets taped in 1969 by future Void-oid (and Lou Reed) guitarist Robert Quine! Quine used to follow the band around and tape their shows for them on cassette; he then transferred the best of their performances to reel-to-reel tape, and it is those performances-all but one unreleased-that comprise this bargain-priced 3-CD set. Some intriguing titles here, including a 17-minute tune called Follow the Leader , an 11-minute Ride into the Sun and 38- and 24-minute versions of Sister Ray . Quite a find!