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Published On: Wed, Feb 17th, 2016

The Velvet Underground: Live at Max’s Kansas City (Remastered)

velvetThe Velvet Underground
Live at Max’s Kansas City (Remastered)
(Rhino Atlantic)

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Sounding more like the Rolling Stones than the New York proto-punk darlings they were known to be (and the legends they surely have become), The Velvet Underground knock out a startling, rangy, electric, countrified set at an infamous NYC music spot on Live at Max’s Kansas City. Recorded in 1970 during the Underground’s nine-week engagement at Max’s, we get the very end of Lou Reed’s stint with the band and the line-up of Sterling Morrison, Doug Yule and Billy Yule (sitting in for regular Velvet drummer Maureen Tucker who was preggers at the time) behind him. There is the much-faster-than-recorded opener, “White Light/White Heat,” the speed-up/slow-down hit, “Sweet Jane,” and bassist Doug Yule managing wonderful backing vocals throughout. He then takes the lead on the great ballad, “I’m Set Free,” and the romping stomper, “Lonesome Cowboy Bill,” a very loose, but yet fun mix of Reed’s rhythm guitar and Morrison’s lead (buried though it is). Disc two features a second version of “Sweet Jane” and Yule managing a sweet vocal on a consistently falling-apart “I’ll Be Your Mirror” (though he and Reed mix well vocally in the chorus). Reed does lots of talking here (too much, actually), before the tinkling, slow “Candy Says,” and what is probably his best spoken-sung delivery on “Femme Fatale.” “Some Kinda Love” sees the band slipping back into that snapping, Stones recreation. It’s their best overall effort here. The electric guitars mix perfectly (Morrison is especially on his game) and Yule’s drums are not overdone. Recorded on a cassette player, the sound quality here isn’t great (Yule’s drums and the vocals are mostly prominent, as is Jim Carroll in the audience trying to score drugs), but still this is a wonderful, historic document of a great band.

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The Velvet Underground: Live at Max’s Kansas City (Remastered)