Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday Music: I like your old stuff better than ...

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  • Grant McDougall,

    Russell, get Paul Rose to tell you his story about when Lou played Auckland in 1984 and his predilection for - of all things - Uncle's hamburgers, it's really funny.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 759 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to James Butler,

    To be fair, I don’t think brain was fully engaged when that opening was typed;

    What a drag it is getting old, if you happen to play rock music

    Either due to lack of research of lack of understanding of the subject matter, it seemed to reveal more about the blogger than anything else. 99% of Rock musicians never achieve any kind of fame and as such, never miss it.The joints may get a bit rusty, you might develop RSI, but when all’s said and done, if the body’s willing it’s just another day at the orifice. old or young, enjoying the wonderful pleasure that only comes from playing music, invariably other peoples’.

    As I see it we are conflating being a musician who plays rock music with achieving some kind of fame. And for those who rate and crave adulation

    Is there any form in which fans will cling so tight to the work you made when you were a stupid child, even as they politely tolerate – barely – your new stuff?

    would seem like a totally legit concern. But for non-megalomaniac Josephine musician, who is getting paid or not to simply ‘play’, she has played and been paid. For the stars, where over time band members drop out and are replaced by pros, less and less members of any band are going be giving any kind of an actual fuck what the audience *thinks*. Our presence is all that was required.

    This whole other thing we seem to have directed towards: the adulation, the fame, the Icarii, they exist in every field, take Tiger Woods or any sports practitioner, filmmakers Jane Campion, Martin Scorcese, and of course George Lucas. Erm writers like JR Rowling, Sue Townsend, Helen Fielding. Broadcasters like Paul Holmes. Heck, take anyone who has had their 15 minutes*.

    Was fan adulation so important to their being that life is now a drag, so much so that their respective disciplines no longer give them pleasure? So much so that they can no longer apply an expected degree of effort in their respective disciplines? Or is that just some media spin, derived of a perception that our heroes live but for the glory, and that a fan’s subjective appreciation is isolated to a couple of choice hits from mid 80s.

    What a drag it is getting old, if you crave being young.

    *Had there been no Andy Warhol.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    It's not exactly crazy to note that people often do prefer "the earlier, funnier movies".

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    his predilection for - of all things - Uncle's hamburgers

    please tell me he visited the K Rd branch. those guys were awesome entertainment

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19661 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    I’m sorry , but the first Velvet Underground record is possibly my favourite album of all time. Come back when you can write a song better than ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’, ‘Waiting for the Man’ or ‘Heroin’. Lou Reed’s muse radically expanded what it was possible to talk about in a pop song, and what a pop song could be.

    Yeah, it’s probably my favourite too. For all its reputation of being a “primitive” record, it’s amazingly varied in terms of its mood and styles. I mean, further to the tracks you mentioned, it also features the striking, stark R&B “There She Goes Again”, the deceptive and unbelievably pretty “Sunday Morning” ( watch out, the world’s behind you…), and the squalling “European Son”, which anticipates the whole noise-thing of their second record. It’s an amazing record because it sets out so many different paths for others to take, and yet no one has quite captured it quite like they did.

    White Light, White Heat basically invented the art of noise. It came from a band angry, accomplished and fresh off the road. And Loaded, the Velvets album I revere least and play most often, is, well, loaded, with tremendous songs. (But no, Doug Yule is not an upgrade from John Cale. Scientific fact.)

    I agree with all that. However, I assume your passing over the s/t third LP was an oversight. It’s my second-fave Velvet Underground studio LP. Lou was never as funny, wise or as human again on record. Everything about the record is perfectly contained. It’s often breathtakingly direct and songs like “Pale Blue Eyes” and “Candy Says” arguably invented a whole sub-genre of singer-songwriter. But it still finds space for something as off-handed and groovy as “Some Kind of Love”, and as frenetic as “What Goes On”. Shame about “Murder Mystery”, mind.

    However, I’m gonna cheat and say VU is my second-fave Velvets record, even if it’s technically an “outtakes” compilation. But bloody hell, it’s all aces- Lou may have re-recorded several of these for his solo LPs, but none of them sounded as good as they do here: “I Can’t Stand It” is belligerent and charged, “Lisa Says” & “Stephanie Says” are as affecting as they are sardonic, and the narcotic, languorous “Ocean” might be one of the greatest songs ever. It’s just the way it seems to be barely awake and yet utterly in control. (The versions on “Fully Loaded”, “Live 1969” and “The Quine Tapes” are also radically different, but equally remarkable).

    I’m not much of a solo Lou man- although Transformer, Coney Island Baby and Berlin are all very excellent- and he didn't release much of worth in the last two or so decades. But hell, he did his bit.

    (Incidentally, it was oddly good timing that Richard Langston was filling for Katherine Ryan’s “Nine to Noon” slot on RNZ on Monday morning- it gave him an excuse to play his favourite songs and preface each of them with “this band was also influenced by Lou Reed and the Velvet Undergound”. And he was right)

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    I tweeted this earlier in the week, but for those who missed it, the South Bank Show’s 1986 Velvet Underground doco is a fascinating timecapsule in itself. Not only in its matter-of-fact presentation-I love Melvyn Bragg’s almost professorial intro- but also what it focused on. I mean, it barely mentions the last two LPs (Squeeze doesn’t count, pedants!), and I don’t think Doug Yule even appears in the doco.

    Also, it’s kinda funny to hear the reference to the Velvet Underground’s influence on “young bands such as the Jesus & Mary Chain"- the then-brand new Pyschocandy is now older than the Velvet Underground & Nico was at the time of this doco!

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Littlewood,

    Melvyn Bragg

    another under-rated genius

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19661 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Lou Reed’s muse radically expanded what it was possible to talk about in a pop song, and what a pop song could be.

    There’s a story told by Bob Dylan about how he was driving along in the car with the radio on in 1964 when he heard – for the first time – I Want To Hold Your Hand.

    Rather, he misheard it, maybe because he was, he admits, stoned. He thought Lennon was singing “I get high, I get high, I get high” and Bob’s reaction was “He can get away with THAT in a song!” Of course the real line was “I can’t hide, I can’t hide, I can’t hide” and it would take a couple more years before a songwriter would be that brazen in a pop lyric.

    It is hard to remember / imagine what the mid ’70’s pre internet NZ world was like now but that Transformer album was hugely influential

    It’s also easy to forget that for most of the 1970s you simply couldn’t buy any VU in New Zealand. VU & Nico was issued in 1971 without the banana (they used the back on both sides) and immediately deleted. I don’t think the next three albums were released at all (until 1980) or if they were it was token. There was a budget hits album available very briefly around 1974 and, bizarrely, the awful Doug Yule Squeeze album was on local release.

    If you wanted Heroin or I’m Waiting For My Man your only choice was live LR versions. Given that, and how pirated tapes of the originals were your only other option, it’s incredible how influential the VU became in NZ.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    Our very own Matthew Bannister has some interesting things to say about the influence of the Velvets (and the influence of Warhol on them) in his White Boys, White Noise. He wrote a really good piece in Popular Music a few years as well, which touched on the question of how such an ephemeral and hard-to-access cultural artefact as the Velvet’s first album was able to circulate and become influential in ’70s New Zealand, but I can’t find a free version online. Curse you, Cambridge University Press!

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Conrad Heine,

    The Mail rant is plain bizarre, but so original that an actual fan may have been involved in some way, with the compulsory editorial outrage added to the mix (although the blame for migrants seems to have been skipped). And I salute the picture researcher. What wouldn't I have given to have been at that Crystal Palace hippies-in-the-pond fest while Lou did his leather-glam thing? Or Lou alongside Lynyrd Skynrd in '74?

    Here's the Economist take, by the way: http://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21588844-lou-reed-songwriter-and-musician-died-october-27th-aged-71-walk-wild-side

    London/New Zealand • Since Mar 2008 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • greg malcolm, in reply to Russell Brown,

    can't work out where to post.. so will it here


    whakatane • Since Nov 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    Seems the Noisey website is the only place so far showing the debut video for the Broods' Bridges.

    I like it.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2448 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to greg malcolm,

    Happy daze...

    where to post...
    the Arthur Fonzarelli of Rock 'n' roll

    Hi Greg, welcome...

    This track is, of course, from Greg's Trust Only This Face CD from 1995.
    (which we had lotsa fun putting together the booklet/case for - cut and paste)
    I always loved that Lou/'Fonz' panel - "I'm waiting for my mum"
    (velvet undertones of Oedipus in leather?)

    folk may also enjoy the instructional:
    Music not done properly

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7869 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    That is interesting Simon, no wonder VU sales were low! Some few people used to get airfreight NMEs–post office order or overseas funds? Heh.

    Still the Auckland Townhall was bulging at Lou’s two 70s shows if everyone who says they were there was. I was, and remember his TV interview where he expressed surprise at one un-named item freely available on our chemists shelves that was not in NY.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alec Morgan,

    That is interesting Simon, no wonder VU sales were low! Some few people used to get airfreight NMEs–post office order or overseas funds

    I think it must have been about 1979 when it all changed and the first album became quite widely available. Just in time for New Zealand punk rock and what followed. From memory, I think Simon knows the details on that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Conrad Heine,

    Here’s the Economist take [on Lou Reed], by the way

    That sentence is where my brain starts to melt. Lou Reed in The Economist obits.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    One more: Paul Morley in the FT.

    I think I'd prefer to read the NME story from 1979, written after ...

    During a couple of days travelling around Berlin before a concert, he messed with my mind, shouted at me for being stupid, tried to assault me after the show, and gave me half an hour for the interview, timed to the second, before stalking off with a snort of derision. It was Lou Reed, though, and you couldn’t expect nice. I took the blows. It was a rite of passage. In one way it was flattering. He baited rock journalists for sport.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Robert Fox,

    I’ve only seen the Fall twice (back in the Early 90’s) and both shows were exceptional, however viewing footage of more recent show’s I’d have to say that Mr Smith may be spent as a live performer.

    They certainly were back in the day. I was fortunate to catch a Brix-era gig in Cardiff in '88. The Martin Bramah (part II) 'era' 1989-90 was especially worthy for the release of Extricate, one of the Fall's finest. Sing Harpy and its warped Kenny Brady fiddle is I gather a dig at (Nigel) Kennedy for running off with Brix! Extricate also featured the rediscovery of the long lost Monks (Black Monk Themes I and II). I'm pretty sure Bramah (along with keyboardist) Marcia Schofield) got dumped on the eve of Fall's Akl'd visit in 1990 and NZ audience unfortunately missed a real treat.

    Agree, I think Mark E Smith has run out of steam but you can never say never with the Fall. How about a line-up change (...hello Craig Scanlon?) the current one must hold the record for longevity.

    Interestingly, The Fall never did a Reed/VU track but did do the Saint's This Perfect Day on the Marshall Suite. The closest to a Velvet's cover was White Light(ning)!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 379 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Alec Morgan,

    Still the Auckland Townhall was bulging at Lou’s two 70s shows if everyone who says they were there was. I was,

    I was too, and I had an earlier encounter [this is crossposted from my FB page] in 1977:

    I went with [Scavengers] Johnny Volume and Brendan Perry to the 1977 NZ press conference at the Intercontinental Hotel. We said we were from Radio Hauraki or something to get in but the plan was to get Johnny’s guitar signed – it was the same Les Paul Lou had played on the Velvets recordings and legend had it it had been sold by Lou in NZ in 1974 for drugs. Johnny ended up with it a few years on. It didn’t go well as I recall. Lou was less than accommodating and the guitar remained unsigned.
    - -
    Fact was, Johnny got up to get it signed – nervous as hell – and walked towards him. Lou and Rachel were sitting talking, probably laughing about the way the NZ MSM’s communal jaw had dropped when Rachel had walked in a few minutes earlier and said, in a well-husky male voice, “Hi Lou”, when Johnny tripped over the cables attached to Lou’s own large video camera. He fell and Lou swore at him and left. It didn’t ever get signed. A year or so later it was dropped and the neck broke. I’m pretty sure Johnny still has it, but it’s not playable.

    From memory, I think Simon knows the details on that.

    Yup. It took a letter/petition from a few of we retail kids at the time to get the Verve albums issued.

    In 1980, 6 years after the rest of the world, they also issued the double live album for the first time and it actually charted (when a chart position meant sales).

    Loaded was issued earlier in 79 or it may even have been late 78, as it was via WEA and Terence Hogan, who worked their in their art dept., pushed it through.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Sjorn,

    There seems to be some weird undercurrent to this discussion about The Fall. I don't really understand but for the official record let it be known: Lou Reed is great Mark e Smith is greater.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2013 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    Also, Lou Reed's review of Kanye West's Yeezus was very readable- particularly the autobiographical touches to it. I found the record pretty hard to take myself- and I like some of Kanye's earlier stuff, particularly the first two albums- but Reed is undeniably perceptive about Yeezus's intent. I like this passage:

    Over and over, [Kanye] sets you up so well — something's just got to happen — and he gives it to you, he hits you with these melodies. (He claims he doesn't have those melodic choruses anymore — that's not true. That melody the strings play at the end of "Guilt Trip," it's so beautiful, it makes me so emotional, it brings tears to my eyes.) But it's real fast cutting — boom, you're in it. Like at the end of "I Am a God," anybody else would have been out, but then pow, there's that coda with Justin Vernon, "Ain't no way I'm giving up." Un-fucking-believable. It's fantastic. Or that very repetitive part in "Send It Up" that goes on five times as long as it should and then it turns into this amazing thing, a sample of Beenie Man's "Stop Live in a De Pass."

    And it works. It works because it's beautiful — you either like it or you don't — there's no reason why it's beautiful. I don't know any musician who sits down and thinks about this. He feels it, and either it moves you too, or it doesn't, and that's that. You can analyze it all you want.

    Did Reed write any other music reviews? I'd like to read them if he did.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 445 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Danielle,

    It’s not exactly crazy to note that people often do prefer “the earlier, funnier movies”.

    Certainly nothing crazy there, provided you’re not standing on a street corner randomly barking that line out to passersby. As I see it, for the most part things hinge on our first encounter (the first time we ’get it). Are you An Annie Haller or a Midnight in Pariser. Bachelor Party, Big or Saving Private Ryan. I’ve played a bit of Fry and Laurie to a lot of House fans who’ve been less than impressed, the same with Bean and Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python etc British comedy, but.

    With the Beatles I was often amazed how many people rate Abbey Road so highly until I realised that was the first album they had significant exposure to, I grew up on Rubber Soul and Revolver.

    I was inclined to agree with Craig’s:

    they’re never going to replace Ziggy Stardust, This Year’s Model or Rain Dogs

    Rain Dog’s was Wait’s 8th LP recorded when he was 34, though he’s more of an exception than this rule we’re touting. But he’s not alone, Tina Turner struck a chord with our generation with her 80s comeback, much as I love the old stuff, the first song that comes to mind is always ‘We don’t need another hero’, and as far as I can glean, it’s largely down to timing and exposure often by way of the media.

    My version of Funkytown is the one by Lipps Inc, while a friend’s is Pseudo Echo, Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins Genesis? New York Mining Disaster 1941 or Stayin’ Alive? Atom Heart Mother or The Wall? Rankling questions, I apologize, self-definition via cultural posturing is not such a familiar socialization device out of the western hemisphere. Any fans of Psy from the Psycho World! here? Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson or Obi Wan Kenobi? Saruman or the Man with the Golden Gun? The Italian Job or the Italian Job? Hollywood seems to have got it. Generally the Die Hard fans will eat it all up, the fairweathers won’t, and there’s always a new generation to pitch at. It’s a difficult theory to test given the music biz doesn’t sign nearly enough Susan Boyles. Far too few Septuagenarian acts on the airwaves, come on NZOA! Represent.

    Picasso is many things to as many people, Van Goph was nothing to anyone and casting even further back, who’s going to stand up and argue for Michelangelo’s early or late period? The Travelling Wilburries early or late period?

    My LP introduction to Lou Reed came via New York and Songs for Drella which still means as much to me as any other work he or John ever did together. I wouldn’t have a clue if any of it mattered. Because it’s music. But mainly due to lack of a working flux capacitor..

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to chris,

    mainly due to lack of a working flux capacitor

    teeworthy

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19661 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    On closer inspection, you can pretty much guess what Karl du Fresne's preferred musical style is. Draw your own conclusion.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    you can pretty much guess what Karl du Fresne's preferred musical style is. Draw your own conclusion.

    Ah so. Goes some way towards explaining the "y'see yesterday mah dawg died" tone that pervades his 'work'.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

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