The Velvet Underground – Live at Max’s Kansas City

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 8)

I should but don’t know whether there are any (released) live recordings of the band from the John Cale era. I suspect not, otherwise I think I would easily know. I assume those wouldn’t be unheralded. It would be nice to hear the original quartet, especially Cale’s viola live.

What I Think of This Album

The bad:  there is a lot of annoying ambient noise, including people ordering drinks from the bar; Billy Yule’s traditional rock drumming is totally wrong for these songs. The good: considering this was recorded on a handheld mono tape recorder in 1970, the sound is not *that* bad; this happened to be Lou Reed’s final performance with the band, which is a fortunate bit of serendipity; and of course, it’s the Velvet Underground live.

Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed kick up an agreeable racket on guitar and if the performances aren’t legendary, they are still good. The band was at the end of a three month residency at Max’s, during which time they were also working on Loaded (for his part, Billy Yule went to high school/summer school during the day and then went to Max’s at night). I don’t know if they played two sets every night, but they did this night. The original release culled songs from both sets, but the 2004 reissue I have presents both sets in their entirety. Given how much better the 1969 live albums are, this is really just for hardcore fans.

Note: this album was released before the 1969 albums, but I place it after those in my collection based on the dates of the actual shows.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Beginning to See the Light”? Nothing really stands out on this album.

Release Date

May, 1972 (original); 2004 (reissue)

The Cover Art

I’m not sure what the colorful elements were supposed to add to this standard b/w shot of the venue, but I am pretty sure that the effort failed.

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