The Velvet Underground

(amazon.com)
(amazon.com)

The Velvet Underground
The Complete Matrix Tapes
Polydor/UME
by David Chiu

For those who grew up or were raised listening to the 1969: The Velvet Underground Live and The Quine Tapes will finally get the entire experience of hearing the Velvets’ performances at the Matrix in San Francisco. The Complete Matrix Tapes collects the music that previously appeared on VU’s aforementioned double-live album from 1974 with several unreleased tracks that will see the light for the first time—all totaling 42 songs (Some of the music had appeared from last year’s The Velvet Underground box). Like Live at Max’s Kansas City, The Complete Matrix Tapes is a further testament of what an adventurous group VU was when it came to performing live—some of the renditions of songs depart from the original studio incarnations, bordering on experimentation (i.e. the epic “Sister Ray,” here clocking nearly 40 minutes on this set, or the jagged extended guitar solo on “I Can’t Stand It”). Also, the same song can be performed differently live, as in the case of the band’s a 13-minute version of “Waiting for the Man” (which has a slower tempo and sounding more soulful), or a shortened version of it (that sounds a bit faster, somewhat akin to the studio cut from the debut) for another performance. Audiences who were at the Matrix had an opportunity to hear tracks that would later end up on Loaded, the last VU studio album to feature Reed, the following year, particularly “Rock and Roll,” “Sweet Jane,” and “New Age.” The Complete Matrix Tapes offers a now fuller picture of the Velvets’ notable residency at that San Francisco venue and it’s still a revelation to hear after nearly 50 years since those recordings.

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