Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Velvet Underground Rarity Sells For $155,401

"Velvet Underground & Nico Produced by Andy Warhol" is one of my all-time fave records. I first learned about the VUs in the late 1960s from the liner notes of a Supremes record. Gene Kelly, the famous dancer, compared the melodic Supremes to the discordant Velvet Underground, and he preferred the former. At the time, I did too. I was nine. It was 1967. I didn't know much about music, yet.

Eventually I got Lou Reed's "Transformer" record and that started my journey to the records of the Velvet Underground. It has been a nice journey, and I like to hear Velvet Underground songs performed whether by Lou Reed himself, or any number of other performers who like to sing their songs, too.

I am currently listening to "1969: The Velvet Underground Live," a two-disc set (originally a gatefold LP) of songs recorded in Dallas, Texas, when the VUs were on their way to LA. (Jim Morrison would meet Gereard Malanga on this trip and copy his clothing style to create the Jim Morrison "look.")

Anyway . . . as usual, I digress. This article is about the record "The Velvet Underground & Nico." A classic rock . . . no, a seminal rock album.

The track listing reads, as it should, like a history of rock music:

1. Sunday Morning
2. I'm Waiting For The Man
3. Femme Fatale
4. Venus In Furs
5. Run Run Run
6. All Tomorrow's Parties
7. Heroin
8. There She Goes Again
9. I'll Be Your Mirror
10. Black Angel's Death Song, The
11. European Son

Produced by Andy Warhol and almost completely ignored at the time of its release in 1967, it has come to influence more singers, songwriters and bands than any other single record. More than any Beatles record, more than any Motown record, it has influenced bands that span many genres. Songs for a chanteuse, songs you can dance to, dark and eerie discordant songs, songs about drugs, and songs about New York.

It's a classic.

During the process of making an album, a producer will create acetates that are often used to shop the album to record companies. When the band was recording their first record, two copies of the first acetate were made. One is known to be in the hands of an unknown person, and the second found its way into a box of records at a flea market in New York City. From that box it was purchased for seventy-five CENTS, by a Canadian collector in 2002.

Recently, the acetate was sold on ebay.

AP Article:
Velvet Underground Rarity Sells On eBay
By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer
Sun Dec 10, 2:06 AM ET

Forty years after it was made, The Velvet Underground's first recording has become a financial hit — in cyberspace. Bought for 75 cents four years ago at a Manhattan flea market, the rare recording of music that ended up on the influential New York band's first album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico," sold on eBay for a closing bid of $155,401.

The buyer is a mystery, only identified by the eBay screen name: "mechadaddy."

But a greater mystery endures: How did the 12-inch, acetate LP end up buried in a box of records at a flea market?

Warren Hill, a collector from Montreal, bought the record in September 2002 at the flea market, according to an article written by his friend, Eric Isaacson of Mississippi Records in Portland, Ore. in the current issue of Goldmine Magazine.

Isaacson helped Hill decipher the nature of the lucky find.

"We cued it up and were stunned — the first song was not 'Sunday Morning' as on the 'Velvet Underground & Nico' Verve LP, but rather it was 'European Son' — the song that is last on that LP, and it was a version neither of us had ever heard before!" Isaacson wrote.

The recording turned out to be an in-studio acetate made during Velvet Underground's first recording over four days in April 1966 at New York's Scepter Studios. The record reportedly is only one of two in existence; the other is privately owned, with rumors circulating about the owner's identity. Columbia Records rejected the album.

"I immediately took the needle off the record, and realized that we had something special," Isaacson wrote. Hill and Isaacson photographed the album, made a digital backup copy of the music, and decided to put it up for auction. The first bids, which began Nov. 28, rose $20,000.

Velvet Underground left its musical stamp on hundreds of other bands.

The band, named after a book about edgy sex practices in the 1960s, was fueled by Moe Tucker's hard-driving drumming, John Cale's anxious viola, and lead singer Lou Reed, whose lyrics spoke of drug-induced beauty and gritty Lower East Side realities.

The first album featured Nico, the European model-actress-singer in a first and last recorded appearance with the band.

Other articles in which I have mentioned the Velvet Underground:

Those Songs

500 Greatest Songs Of All Time?

Conspiracy Theory


Anonymous said...

That is fascinating about Jim Morrison. I always admired the way that he looked as it seems no matter what today's fashion is, he had style that would fit in. I'm glad I now know where I can peg that too.
Also, on a separate note, I found out last week on the web that Delmore Schwartz, Lou Reed's professor at Syracuse, is buried about 2 miles from my house.

DM said...

Yeah! Malanga was the leather-clad whip boy in the Exploding Platic Inevitable and after the show left LA to return to NYC, Jim Morrison started appearing in similar leather outfits. Doors fans of course belittle this as coincidence, but . . . it doesn't take a rocket scientist . . .