The Velvet Underground, The Scepter Studios Sessions (2012)
When it comes down to it I don’t get all that into hearing alternate mixes and unused takes – unless it’s a band I really love and/or the versions in question provide clues, revelations, a fresh way back into the music. The Velvet Underground has meant a lot to me, one of my all-time favourite bands. I discovered them on my own, in that I was a Lou Reed fan, thanks to my mum and my brother and from reading books about Lou Reed I had a picture in my mind of the VU’s music before I heard anything. Then, bit by bit, I got to hear the band’s music. Those four albums have, at various times, meant the world to me. I’ve owned them all a bunch of times, bonus discs, vinyl, anniversary editions, newly uncovered mono mixes, alternate takes, the bootlegs, I’ve picked up what I can relating to this band over the years. I still recall buying the band’s first album and last album on CD; two of my earliest CD purchases. And by still recall – I mean I remember vividly the journey to buying those CDs; who I was with, where I was, there was a sense of anticipation in buying the albums; super excited – and I just couldn’t wait to get home to play them. Both times I had people telling me it was just noise. I was, for a time, on my own as a Velvet Underground fan. But then I got older and discovered that so many bands had been influenced by the VU and so many music fans were still getting turned onto these records (as I had) and so, suddenly – not alone at all. This year for Record Store Day the Scepter Studios Sessions album was released in a limited edition, numbered series on vinyl. I’ve not yet splashed out on the super-flash 45th Anniversary edition of “Banana” and I guess I probably won’t. I’m a responsible parent these days. I have a toddler. So I hadn’t yet heard some of the Scepter stuff; hadn’t heard it all in one place. It was the one record I was interested in getting as part of my annual Record Store Day visit. I never made it to Record Store Day this year. No huge drama, just a teething toddler making it hard to leave the house that day (I’m a responsible parent after all). Every week I have a record store day (or two) so no real drama at all. But I did hope the store had not sold out of the VU LP. And so, the following week, I head down for my own record store day – and there it is. Still. I get my numbered LP. One of 5000. And I’m thinking – all day – about how nice that first listen will be. It doesn’t happen. Teething toddler says no. And a trip to the zoo is its own kind of awesome anyway. So that’s okay, I’ll play it the next day. And that doesn’t quite happen either. I wait – all day. I’d been up since 5am. (Because he was up at 5am). And I know that there’s no rush with this – I’ll hear it at some point. And then again. And again. In the end I pick the worst time possible to play it – what’s known in our house (and in many others, I’m sure) as “The Witching Hour”. But there are people coming around to visit for the evening – and we’ve just been and got the groceries. There’s 45 minutes right now! So I play it. And it’s glorious. And I’m trying my best to listen in for new sounds, for different backing vocals…and Katy says, “what is this noise?” And I say that it’s an important record I’ve been looking forward to. And she says, “well it sounds revolting”. And – in that context – she’s not wrong. Nor, of course, am I. My trophy sits safe. I’ll have a record day this week. And then another. And another. Get to know it real well.
Sample Track: European Son
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