THE VELVET UNDERGROUND;

"1969"

It's Saturday night. I'm alone and all I don't wanna do is keep leafing through this copy of Vogue I got in my mits - gawking at all these silly hussies in their atrocious threads.

I'm getting claustrophobic; pacing the floor don't help - what I need is a dose of something dirty and by God that's where "Velvet Underground '69" fills the bill.

Ah - now that's what I like. 17 hot tracks recorded live in Texas and San Francisco, four previously unrecorded, tho' if you're particularly hip you've probably heard 'em on some bootleg or other.

Takes me right back to the teenage years of my virginal innocence; the evening I spent in some dingy hall, eyes fixed on that cat in the striped T-shirt and wrap around shades, those song's made my eyes water like I was chewing on a wad of aluminum foil, me hoping I could score some dope after the show; me wishin I could be like them.

Festivities begin. "Good evening. We're the Velvet Underground. You people have a curfew or anything like that! You got school tomorrow? This song is called 'I'm Waiting For My Man'.

It's good. He doesn't sound very stoned, but it don't make no difference. The band's tight hard. They even sound semi-professional.

Half the fun of hearing the same V.U. song at various sessions is that Reed never sung (or remembered) the same lyrics twice.

'What Goes On' is injected full of characteristic V.U. sexuality. Reed tosses out the lyrics-wet lipped and oh... The audience purses its mouth, the front row thinking 'I'd like to give him a good...'

Mo Tucker's unfaltering tat (pause) tat (pause) tat (pause) tat bounces off Reed's bump and grind rhythm licks while Yule weaves an eight-minute organ riff around that standard Velvet structure like ribbons down a Maypole.

This sound is what the V.U. was about. This sound is why boys used to pin his picture on their walls way back before they'd admit why.

Yet another version of 'Sweet Jane'. This time slower and more sultry and new lyrics here as well. 'Heavenly wine and roses seem to whisper to me when you smile' Been polishing up the old Jean Genet, Mr. Reed!

A new one, 'We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together,' (Iggy's 'Real Cool Time'?) should erase any doubts you may have about Reed's speed indulgences.

A beautiful version of 'Femme Fatale', although you can't improve much on the original cut featuring Nico.

'New Age' is spiked with Reed's unique sense of humour.'It seems to be my fancy/to make it with Frank and Nancy'. The ageing movie star doesn't make an appearance here as she did on 'Loaded' and it sounds more like the diary of a confused youth on his (new age?) Well, who knows.

What would a V.U. compilation be without 'Rock and Roll" and the band is cookin' right into 'I'm Beginning To See The Light' - 'A little wine in the morning and some breakfast at night' Who says Reed's not one of the best lyricists ever? 'Ocean' (bootleg 'Here Comes The Waves') is the perfect tribute to existentialism (must be why the French are the V.U. connoisseurs they are).

And the larfs just keep on comin'. 'Pale Blue Eyes' - 'It was good what we did yesterday and it'll be good again/and the fact that you're married only proves that you're my best friend'.

'Heroin', long before it was the hip thing to yell out at a Reed gig, used to shake up the audience every time. I mean here you are. some cheerleader with your jock boyfriend, straying into some daring night dub behind your parents' backs. and this guy's singing 'When the blood shoots up the dropper's neck and I'm coasting in on death' and your staring into your cherry coke thinking 'Omigod!'

What can I say, you having probably heard this song two hundred times anyway. The nail file on the teeth ending - it's all here.

About now Lou introduces the band 'And that's my brother Doug on bass.' This song is called 'Some Kinda Love', which is a dialogue between a guy called Tom and a woman called Margharita, and he's just trying to drink her like tequila and she doesn't like being salt thrown over her shoulder.'

Gettin' hard to tell the intros from the songs, huh? 'And of course you're a boy, and at that you're not charmless/hey babe lie down on the carpet and do what you feel most/la de ta ta ta'.

Another new one.'Over You' and why don't more people recognize Reed's sense of humour?

Sure he's a notorious misanthropist, but give the guy his due, he's laughing at some thug.'Typically, when I had it, I treated it like dirt/now that I don't have it. I'm chasing less and less rainbows'. Great!

'Sweet Bonnie Brown' /'It's Just Too Much' sounds like another dribbling of esoteric lyrics from Reed's stockpile of college short stories (?).

A brilliant version of 'White Light/White Heat' 'Oh, sputter mutter, everybody want to kill their mother'. Could it be that Jerry Rubin was in audience that night. (A seed is planted).

'I'II Be Your Mirror', one of the most beautiful songs Reed or any body else ever penned, finishes off the set. Sung by Doug Yule, guess Reed didn't have the heart after Nico's sublime voice set magic to this song.

More people than not remain unaware of (shall I say it) Reed's 'genius', having not even heard of him before he emerged as an aging queen in the '70's.

Anyone who had any notion of Rock and Roll whatsoever in the '60's knows differently. Anyone else who had the fortune to stumble into a Velvets gig will tell you.

And they'll also tell you of the wealth of VU. material as yet still unrecorded. 'The Ostrich', 'Inside Your Heart', 'One Of These Days','My Best Friend','I'm Sticking With You ('Cause I'm Made Out Of Glue") and 'Foggy Notion' are but a few.

Meanwhile, I'm not even going to speculate about what he's into now, how his excesses are affecting him, whether he's lost it or not. Leave that to the rock critics and his mother, me - I just don't care at all.

- Chrissie Hynd

"one more time, this time with feeling, yeah…"