Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

I Can't Stand It

This fine piece of political discourse is painted on the railway bridge behind my place of work (a school in a former mill town in the north west of England that has seen its fair share of post- industrial decline and the problems associated with it and yet inexplicably is represented by a Tory MP). I like to think a student or former student is responsible. 

Back in February 1985 Verve records released a ten song compilation of rescued Velvet Underground recordings. Back in 1969 the band had recorded an album's worth of songs for what was intended to be their fourth album. A new broom came in at Verve/ MGM, an executive called Mike Curb and he took the decision to drop all the unprofitable groups from their roster. The Velvets were among those and were released from their contract. On the shelf they left behind the tapes containing five songs from the John Cale- era Velvets and fourteen for the unreleased album. These recordings were re- discovered in the 80s and the 'best' were released as VU. Most of the songs were in the master tape, multi- track format so some of Verve's top engineers were able to 'clean up' and remix the songs. VU is a treasure trove, a record that was partly responsible for the indie boom in the UK in the mid- 80s. As an album it hangs together and sounds coherent despite two of the songs being Cale period songs and the rest Doug Yule period songs. Some of the songs were re- recorded for Loaded and some were already known to Lou Reeds' audience due to him recycling them on various 1970s solo albums but these were the source material, the songs as recorded by Lou, John or Doug, Sterling and Mo (with some typically 80s gated reverb on the drums added by Verve to make the recordings more contemporary). In many ways VU is as vital a Velvet Underground release as any of their four official studio albums and when exploring the group as we all were in the mid- to- late 80s, VU was an essential purchase. In 1986 the rest of the songs were released as Another VU, a marginally less essential nine song album that rounded the set off. 

In 2014 when the Velvet's record company were celebrating the forty- fifth anniversary of their self- titled third album with a super deluxe box set they went back to the songs that made up VU/ the unreleased 1969 album and remixed them again, this time much more sympathetically. The 2014 version of I Can't Stand It especially was a revelation- the drums especially- and the restored Lou Reed vocal countdown, backwards from eight to one starting at two minutes twelve seconds, just after the vicious guitar solo and before the choppy rhythm guitar parts come back in, is ridiculously good. This is as good a song as any they recorded. 

I Can't Stand It (2014 Mix)

There are many things I cannot stand at the moment, things that easily top living with thirteen dead cats and the purple dog that wears spats in Lou's lyrics, but listing them will only irritate me more. As it is I'll just echo what the Manic Street Preachers said in their 1992 song Repeat, 'Useless generations/ dumb flag scum/ repeat after me/ fuck Queen and country'. Scum is admittedly a strong word but the rest I can't find any fault with. 


George said...

" a student or former student is responsible"
and in no way at all a teacher in that nearby school!

Swiss Adam said...

Come on George, that's an absurd suggestion...

Nick L said...

You'd be proud if one of your former students had done that.
V.U. could well be my fav Velvets album. Got it the week it came out and it turned my whole friendship group on to the band.

Rol said...

While I never condone vandalism, at least their heart's in the right place.

And no spelling mistakes either, which is always a bonus.

Swiss Adam said...

Not even a misplaced apostrophe

Rol said...

It was an apostrophe of abbreviation. Their heart is in the right place.

I did check.

Brian said...

Excellent post, Adam. Made my day.