Tuesday, 14 October 2008

FULL HUNTER'S MOON (14 October 2008)

The Musick dedicated to this Esbat is:

VELVET UNDERGROUND (THE)


APRIL 1966, SCEPTER STUDIOS (NORMAN DOLPH ACETATE)


Original Issue: 1966

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Margot-meter: 5 moons / 5

Dedicated to all my dear male followers...from Margot, your "Venus in furs" ;-)

shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather

whiplash girlchild in the dark

comes in bells, your servant, don't forsake him

strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart


downy sins of streetlight fancies

chase the costumes she shall wear

ermine furs adorn the imperious

severin, severin awaits you there


i am tired, i am weary

i could sleep for a thousand years

a thousand dreams that would awake me

different colors made of tears


kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather

shiny leather in the dark

tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you

strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart


severin, severin, speak so slightly

severin, down on your bended knee

taste the whip, in love not given lightly

taste the whip, now plead for me


i am tired, i am weary

i could sleep for a thousand years

a thousand dreams that would awake me

different colors made of tears


shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather

whiplash girlchild in the dark

severin, your servant comes in bells, please don't forsake him

strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

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1 European Son
2 The Black Angel's Death Song
3 All Tomorrow's Parties
4 I'll Be Your Mirror
5 Heroin
6 Femme Fatale
7 Venus In Furs
8 I'm Waiting For The Man
9 Run Run Run

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from the E-Bay auction:

This auction is for a unique 12" LP acetate whose unearthing has been storied in several underground/label international news features, periodicals and a documentary over the last several years including Rolling Stone Magazine (December 30, 2004), Mojo Magazine (May 2005), U.K. Record Collector Magazine (May 2005), Goldmine Magazine (December 8, 2006), The Globe & Mail (May 28, 2005 and January 14, 2006), and the 2006 Documentary "Velvet Underground Under Review (An Independent Critical Analysis)".

Following is excerpted and adapted (with the author's approval) from the article written by Eric Isaacson of Mississippi Records in Portland Oregon which is featured in the December 8, 2006 issue of Goldmine Magazine currently on news-stands through mid December:

THE MYSTERY OF THE VELVET UNDERGROUND'S "REAL FIRST RECORD" (AND HOW THE ONLY EXISTING COPY WAS BOUGHT FOR 75 CENTS)

In September of 2002 Warren Hill of Montreal Canada was perusing a box of records at a Chelsea, New York street sale when he happened upon a nice Leadbelly 10" on Folkways, a water damaged copy of the first Modern Lovers LP on Beserkely, and a brittle 12" piece of acetone-covered aluminum with the words "Velvet Underground. 4-25-66. Att N. Dolph" written on the label. He purchased the three records for 75 cents each.

As I have a small knowledge of records and am an old friend of Warren's, I got a call from him the next day in which he described the acetate. Because of the date and the unique type of pressing, we both agreed that it was probably an in-studio acetate made during the recording of the first Velvet Underground LP back in 1966 (I had heard that they occasionally would have a vinyl cutting lathe in the studio to cut records of the day's recordings for the artists and/or producers to take home for review). Warren didn't want to play the mysterious platter due to the fragile nature of acetates, and the cheap nature of his record needle, so we agreed that the next time he was visiting me in Portland we would check it out together. If it turned out to be what we thought it was, maybe we could sell it at Mississippi Records, the small neighbourhood record store in Portland that I work at. Sight unseen and sound unheard, I assumed that it was likely an acetate pressing of the recording which would be eventually be released as the group's first album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico".

It took awhile for Warren to visit, but when he did he brought along the acetate. We cued it up and were stunned -- the first song was not "Sunday Morning" as on the "Velvet Underground & Nico" Verve LP, but rather it was "European Son"- the song that is last on that LP, and it was a version neither of us had ever heard before! It was less bombastic and more bluesy than the released version, and it clocked in at a full two minutes longer. I immediately took the needle off the record, and realized that we had something special. Between the two of us we had heard many Velvets outtakes on both official and less than official releases, but the present material had never been heard by either of us.

The next few days found us scrambling for clues and information about what to make of this find; calling every record collector/historian we knew and reading everything we could find concerning the early recordings of the VU. We pieced together that this was probably a surviving copy of the legendary Scepter studios recordings which had been regarded as lost (hence the epic moniker "the lost scepter studios recordings" applied to these unheard sessions over the years). The recording is comprised of the primitive first "finished" version of the LP that Andy Warhol had shopped to Columbia as a ready-to-release debut album by his protege collective "The Velvet Underground".

This acetate, which is possibly the only surviving copy, represents the first Velvet Underground album as Andy Warhol intended it to be released.

Though the same compositions and even a few of the same "takes" (albeit in different mixes) were used on the subsequent commercial release, that which was eventually issued as their debut album on Verve, "The Velvet Underground & Nico", was a significantly different creation. I had heard of these nascent recordings before... it was said by some that the master tapes had burned in a fire, by others that all of those recordings ended up being on the released album, and still by others that the only existing copy of that material was on an acetate owned by David Bowie, and that he was known to tout it as his most prized possession.

The truth about what we held was fuzzy until Warren managed to track down the N. Dolph referred to on the label for an interview.

Norman Dolph was a perennial in the New York art & music scene of the 1960's. He worked as a sales representative at Columbia Records through 1967, and was deeply involved with different facets of the independent music world on the side. Andy Warhol, who was managing the Velvets at the time, contacted Dolph & offered him a painting in exchange for services as "ghost" (uncredited) producer for the Velvet's first recording session. Warhol wanted to record a Velvets album before they had a record company behind them as this would tend to minimize meddling label executives' mobility in compromising the musical arrangement's distraught primal force, not to mention the unprecedented taboo lyrics which openly address sex, drugs, and depravity. Warhol's plan was to have Dolph record it and then shop it around to labels (first & foremost Columbia) as a finished recording.

...and so Dolph rented out Scepter studios, and with an engineer named John Licata by his side, they recorded the Velvets for four days. At the time Scepter studios was between reconstruction and demolition with walls falling over and holes in the floor. Velvets' bass & viola player John Cale would later recall the environment as "Post-Apocalyptic".

Dolph took the master tapes made during this session to the Columbia building, which still had an in-house pressing plant, and cut the acetate "after hours" with people he knew on the inside. Dolph then sent the acetate to Columbia to see if they were interested in releasing it. It was returned promptly with a note that said something akin to "do you think we're out of our f**king minds?" Dolph then gave the acetate to Andy Warhol or John Cale, he cannot remember which.

Six of the songs recorded during the Scepter session made it on to the "Velvet Underground & Nico" LP, albeit with radically different mixes. The other four songs were re-recorded in LA by Tom Wilson. As far as we know, the only listenable copy of the original versions of Heroin, Venus In Furs, I'm Waiting For The Man, and European Son exist on the acetate that Warren found. (A Japanese bootleg of the same material did appear, but in poor, arguably ‘unlistenable' sound quality. It is possible that the source tape for the Japanese bootleg was made from this very acetate decades ago when it was in different hands. Who knows?) We have since realized that we are in possession of a likely one of a kind artifact - the first recordings by one of the most influential rock bands of all time!

After establishing the authenticity of Warren's find we photographed the item and made a high quality digital back-up copy of the material. A media frenzy ensued, with articles appearing in Rolling Stone, Mojo, Record Collector, The Globe & Mail, and many other news sources. Calls started flooding in from people interested in buying the acetate, as well as record companies interested in releasing the songs on it. After much consideration, we decided that it would be best to release it to the highest bidder through an auction facilitated by our good friends at Saturn Records in Oakland, California (a store that has a well-established presence in the international vinyl collecting community, and an excellent reputation on the internet).

As to the most interesting mystery brought up by the appearance of this item - how did such an important artifact disappear for 37 years & end up at a Chelsea New York yard sale priced at 75 cents? ...We have no answer.

The track differences between the acetate versions and the commercial recordings on "The Velvet Underground & Nico" are detailed as follows:

1.European Son- completely different version,. Guitar solo is much bluesier. Less noisy and experimental. Longer by 2 minutes or so.

2.Black Angel's Death Song-Same take as released version. Different mix.

3.All Tomorrow's Parties- Same take as released version. Different mix.

4.I'll Be Your Mirror-Same take as released version. Radically different mix. No echo on Nico's vocals. Background vocals on end of song are more subdued.

5.Heroin-Completely different take than released version. Guitar line is different. Vocal inflections different, and a few different lyrics. Drumming is more primitive & off kilter. There is a tambourine dragging throughout the song.

6.Femme Fatale- Same take as released version. Radically different mix. Percussion more prominent. Alternate take on background vocals. Much more "poppy".

7.Venus In Furs- Different take than released version. Vocal inflections completely different. Instrumentation more based around Cales' violin than the guitar as in the released version.

8.I'm Waiting For The Man- Different take than released version. Guitar line is completely different. Vocal inflections different, and a few different lyrics. No drums, just tambourine. Bluesy guitar solo.

9.Run Run Run- Same take as released version. Different mix.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
continuo said...

I often buy 75 cents records and I don't make such fuss about them! Just kidding. This is a classy post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

great album, unmistakably, but like zeppelin, for instance, hard to bring oneself to listen to it again, notwithstanding the audiophilic (sic.) changes mentioned.. v.u. certainly conjured some ghostly sounds, some of cale's bowing in venus is positively grand guignol, but alas i'm weary of this disk, thanks for the novelty, and i'm not naysaying it, but bring on the less?/more obscure stuff.. cheers, anthony

Anonymous said...

Oh, thanks for the Sacher-Masoch touch, Margot.


Josef (i could sleep for a thousand years ... )

Roger Camden said...

I've seen this around but am only now up to checking it out.

I recall reading about the find years ago when news first dropped. I was gnawing at the bit to hear this record. VU was newer to me then, so it was of more urgent interest to me.

Then it finally makes its way on the webs a billion years later. Every time I've seen it, I couldn't be arsed to click a link (my laziness compares to the Marianas Trench in depth).

tl;dr Thank you for sharing.
I'm sure that I'll enjoy it, even if I don't want to show it.

Anonymous said...

thanks

TheeBradMiller said...

I love the Velvet Underground...
"Who Love The Sun" is the most played song on my iPod. Seriously.

bikefridaywalter said...

Another case of zshare being a pain in the ass, only this time it simply downloads some html file. WTF? :(

W. said...

I'd love to hear this but as bikefridaywalter says.... it's unavailable.

Any chance of getting it sorted?

Many thanks...