Sunday, May 09, 2004


When this 3-CD set (which is not a bootleg, despite its title, but a legitimate release of previously unknown live recordings) came out three years ago, it got rather lukewarm reviews, if I remember correctly. At the time I was peeved at this, since the Velvets did some amazing stuff live, which the official live releases that had preceded this set didn't reflect at all, except for a couple of tracks on the box set. But having just re-listened to the whole thing, I have to say that the reviews were probably right. (To let you know where I'm coming from, my ranking of the original four albums is WLWH, and Nico, the third album, and Loaded, in descending order.) There are a couple of cuts which show what the Velvets were capable of live: "I Can't Stand It" on disc one and "White Light/White Heat" on disc two. But overall the set is a disappointment. None of the three versions of "Sister Ray" is top-notch, though the one on disc three is probably the best. The "Waiting for the Man" on disc three has some nice bluesy guitar, but at eleven minutes goes on too long. The previously unreleased song, "Follow the Leader," is less interesting and goes on even longer. And do we really need another live version of "New Age," or an eleven-minute "Ride into the Sun"? As it stands, the best live Velvets material is still only available on bootleg. And apparently it's going to stay that way for the foreseeable future, since the last I heard future volumes of the "Bootleg Series" had been put on hold indefinitely. (But that was more than a year ago, so it's possible there've been some developments I don't know about.)

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