The Velvet Underground

The Complete Matrix Tapes (Universal)

Gift Guide 2015: The Boxing Lesson

You can practically count every person in the room by listening to the handclaps on this essential live documentation of the Sixties' most influential, unsung rock & roll band. Sounds like maybe 10 people tops witnessed NYC proto-punk noiseniks the Velvet Underground assaulting a San Francisco club co-owned by the Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin across 18 nights in late 1969. Thanks to the foresight of one of his partners constructing an on-site four-track recording facility, cultists are now treated to the best-recorded live VU documentation ever. This being the post-John Cale lineup with Doug Yule on bass, the 4-CD Complete Matrix Tapes bleeds less distortion than what White Light/White Heat fans might expect, but highlights including a 35-minute "Sister Ray" going through multiple transformations while expanding on Lou Reed's speed-and-homosexuality shock mantra delivers. All three versions of "I'm Waiting for the Man" get slowed down to a creepy-crawl blues, "Rock & Roll" and "Sweet Jane" get aired on their way to appearing on Loaded, and one can finally hear exactly how this band worked together, in full, glorious high fidelity.

****

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