Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: The Velvet Underground

Though they never had huge commercial success, The Velvet Underground are considered one of the most influential groups in rock history. Rolling Stone named them 19th out of the “100 Greatest Artists,” and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. This proto-punk, NYC-based band did not share the flower power ethos of the late 60s; their music explored darker, urban themes, as in the lyrics about drug addiction in “Run Run Run,” heard above in a 1969 performance. The vocals are followed by a jam featuring characteristic guitar feedback and distortion. Andy Warhol (shots of the pop artist are in the video above) managed the group, which played regularly at his studio, The Factory. Warhol’s multimedia shows, which accompanied Velvet Underground concerts, were known as the “Exploding Plastic Inevitable.” Guitarist and songwriter Lou Reed has gone on to a successful solo career; his performances are showcased here, here and, with Pete Townshend, here.


Michael The Molar Maven said...

I think The Velvet Underground were surpassed only by The Beatles in their influence on rock music. It's use of musical imagery, especially John Cals's viola - as displayed so vividly in this video, painted those "darker, urban" landscapes you mentioned. Ironically, Cale had left the band by the time it achieved it's most commercial success with the more mainstream, yet equally brilliant LOADED album ("Sweet Jane", etc.). Also, original drummer Maureen Tucker was not on LOADED; I believe she was on maternity leave at the time of recording. Anyway, thanks for the video.

Jeff Tone said...

You're welcome. The Velvet Underground have indeed been an enormous influence on the punk, grunge and alternative genres.