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Sunday, 5 February 2017

A Hand Me Down Dress From Who Knows Where

I like this photo of the early incarnation of The Velvet Underground, mainly because it's in colour. The banana period Velvets are usually in stark black and white, occasionally with some of Andy Warhol's silver balloons. This picture punctures that and makes them something else.

This song is almost without equal. Not just in their back catalogue but in anyone's. It's so out there- the drone and detuned piano are woozy and discordant, the guitar is scratchy and spindly, the drum thuds and then there's Nico's double tracked vocal, the blank and sneery lyrics about a party girl. Lyrics sung behind her back, straight out of Warhol's amphetamine psychosis Factory. Jon Savage describes it as coming at the listener sideways which makes sense. Why they released as a single in 1966 makes little sense at all, other than as a statement of 'they'll never play this on the radio'.

All Tomorrow's Parties

In 2006 John Cale said "The song was about a girl called Darryl, a beautiful petite blonde with three kids, two of whom were taken away from her", which makes it human and sad. 

It's a song that almost dares bands to cover it, inviting them into the trap, taunting them. Japan got away with it, adding synths, neon and pastels and some drama.


h said...

This takes me back. I had a soft spot for Japan in the early 80's. My 18 year old self heard this before I'd heard the Velvets. I think VU's label might have re-released their albums around this time maybe on the back of songs like this ushering in a host of copy cats.

drew said...

I think that Japan "nearly" got away with it as with their cover of I Second That Emotion. Not sure of how many young Japan fans had heard either original

Echorich said...

All Tomorrow's Parties is a line in the sand for pop and rock music. It forces the listener to hear something different and really promoted the idea of pop music as art.