Friday, August 12, 2011

Velvet Underground Series, #1: Dean & Britta- 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests (2010) MP3 & FLAC

"Hey, I'm not a young man anymore. I've got five nickels in my pocket, gonna get me some more."

Previous to coming under the aegis of pop art icon Andy Warhol, The Velvet Underground, then comprised of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison & Maureen Tucker, had only been together for a short time, but it was clear from the beginning that they were a different breed altogether. As their first manager, Al Aronowitz once recalled, "They were just junkies, crooks, hustlers. Most of the musicians at that time came with all these high-minded ideals, but the Velvets were all full of shit. They were just hustlers." Warhol associate Paul Morrissey happened to catch one of the first gigs Aronowitz had secured for his presumptive band of hustlers at Cafe Bizarre in Greenwich Village and knew right away that Warhol and The Velvets would be a good fit. Classically trained, John Cale had played in minimalist composer La Monte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music, an experimental collective, also known as Dream Syndicate, that focused on drone music. Lou Reed, after graduating from Syracuse University, had worked as a tin-pan alley song-writer at Pickwick International, but his tastes ran toward far less mainstream musical pursuits. Initially, these musical polar opposites were resistant to working with each other, but a shared fascination with the use of a drone effect in music composition brought them together, along with Reed's Syracuse classmate Sterling Morrison, in a short-lived band called The Primitives, which quickly metamorphosed into The Velvet Underground. When Morrissey returned to Cafe Bizarre a few nights later with Warhol in tow, the latter was treated to a surreal scene comprised of The Velvets, now with Maureen Tucker on drums, playing their tales of S&M and heroin highs to a crowd made up of tourists sipping exotic drinks. Warhol was won over immediately and invited the band to join his Factory. Lou Reed: "To my mind, nobody in music was doing anything that even approximated the real thing, with the exception of us. We were doing a specific thing that was very, very real. It wasn't slick or a lie in any conceivable way, which was the only way we could work with him. Because the very first thing I liked about Andy was that he was very real." While The Velvets benefited immediately from Warhol's patronage, the relationship was soon strained by Morrissey's insistence that the band needed a figurehead that was more visually appealing than the often recalcitrant Lou Reed. German model Nico, who had visted Warhol's Factory the week before, was Warhol and Morrissey's choice. Cale & Reed hated the idea, but given the significant career perks of being aligned with a figure like Warhol, they eventually acceded, and Reed was even persuaded by his benefactor to write songs specifically for Nico, several of which would appear on The Velvets' debut album, funded and ostensibly produced by Warhol himself (more on this story later). During their stay at the Factory, The Velvets were used in a number of ways by Warhol, including providing largely improvisational soundtracks for some of his films and multi-media presentations, the most famous of which was the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, featuring the band accompanying a silent film directed by Warhol titled The Velvet Underground and Nico: A Symphony of Sound, along with dancers, strobe-lights, slide projections, etc.

Dean & Britta- "I Found It Not So (Sonic Boom Remix)" / Screen test #7- Mary Woronov

Another of Warhol's mid-sixties projects was the filming of hundreds of screen tests of various visitors to the Factory (including Nico and Reed) with a stationary 16mm camera using silent, black & white 100 ft. rolls of film at 24 frames per second as well as a strong key light to set the subject in stark relief; these were later arranged into compilations and screened in slow motion at 16 frames per second. Warhol's screen tests were not limited to celebrities, however, as anyone who came into the orbit of the Factory, no matter how briefly, was a possible subject. As he stated in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, "I've never met a person I couldn't call a beauty [...] I always hear myself saying, She's a beauty! or He's a beauty! or what a beauty! But [...] if everybody's not a beauty, then nobody is." In 2008, The Andy Warhol Museum commissioned Dean Wareham of Galaxie 500 and Luna fame and Wareham's Luna band-mate Britta Phillips to compose music for 13 of the screen tests. In addition to original compositions by Dean & Britta, 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests features a cover of Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It with Mine" and an amazingly effective re-working of an obscure Velvet Underground song, "Not a Young Man Anymore." While Wareham's earlier work with Galaxie 500 suggests a strong affinity for the V.U. aesthetic, which shows throughout the project, his true inspiration here is Warhol himself. Wareham: "You could make a case that he [Warhol] was one of the first punks in two ways. 1) He suggested that anyone could be an artist, and that an artist could try his hand at anything. 2) Punk rock celebrates the commonplace and the ugly, and elevates it, and I think Warhol did the same."

Dean & Britta- "Knives from Bavaria (Spoonful of Fun)" / Screen Test #13- Jane Holzer

13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests 
(Double Feature ~ 2010 ~ Limited Edition)

Disc I:

 1. Silver Factory Theme  (5:06)
 2. I'll Keep It with Mine (Scott Hardkiss Remix)  (4:51)
 3. Not a Young Man Anymore  (My Robot Friend Remix)  (3:09)
 4. I Found It Not So  (4:02)
 5. It Don't Rain in Beverly Hills (Scott Hardkiss Remix)  (4:47)
 6. Incandescent Innocent  (5:11)
 7. International Velvet Redux (Anthony LaMarca Remix)  (4:37)
 8. Teenage Lightning (And Lonely Highways) (Sonic Boom Remix)  (4:58)
 9. Herringbone Tweed  (4:43)
10. Richard Rheem Theme  (6:24)
11. Knives from Bavaria (Spoonful of Fun)  (4:29)
12. Eyes in My Smoke  (3:52)
13. Ann Buchanan Theme  (4:25)

Dean & Britta- "It Don't Rain in Beverly Hills (Scott Hardkiss Remix)" / Screen Test #3-
Edie Sedgwick

Disc II:

1. Incandescent Innocent (Sanctus)  (5:29)
2. I'll Keep It with Mine (Scott Hardkiss Electric Remix)  (5:10)
3. Silver Factory Redux (Sonic Boom Remix)  (5:37)
4. Not a Young Man Anymore  (4:56)
5. I Found It Not So (Sonic Boom Remix)  (4:03)
6. It Don't Rain in Beverly Hills  (4:20)
7. International Velvet Theme  (4:29)
8. Teenage Lightning (And Lonely Highways)  (4:40)

Dean & Britta- "Teenage Lightning (And Lonely Highways)" / Screen Test #2- Paul America


  1. this is all very interesting voixautre, but where is the vu music? :)

  2. Thank you Mr. V! I was trying to find this and low and behold here it is.

  3. bedlam, I have some VU music lined up for post #19 ;)

  4. scurfie, you're welcome! I wanted to start the series with something relating to Andy and with something that sets the context for everything to follow

  5. Well, based on the musical content of the videos provided here, I must say I love it already, and will be promptly investigating Dean & Britta's other works, as well as Galaxie 500. Their rendition of Dylan's "I'll Keep It with Mine", however, though certainly wonderful enough anyway, does not depart significantly from the Susanna Hoffs/Rainy Day version (the definitive one, to my ears), save for replacing Hoffs' supremely magical voice with the only somewhat less magical voice of Britta Phillips.

    As for the video content of the videos: Interesting concept, as nearly always from Andy Warhol, but I can't say I felt compelled to pay particular attention for much more than a few seconds each. The music alone made them worthwhile for me.

  6. Ooh, forgot to add to my last comment, a sincere thanks for this post!

  7. Being a fan of Luna, Warhol and the Velvets, this makes me drool... Somehow I had managed to miss this, so thanks voixautre for posting it! Looking forward to the rest of the series!

  8. MAZE, it's interesting what you said about "I'll Keep It with Mine" because I was thinking the same thing- very similar to the Hoffs' version (which I agree is peerles). I'm not sure why, but the video with the girl brushing her teeth is my favorite- ridiculous I know!

  9. Dr Hank, thank you for commenting. I know this was an unconventional way to start the series, but I felt it was a good place to start- something many readers might not know about. I'm glad you liked it. It will be a great great series. The next post will be VU

  10. Whazzup there on the West Coast? Just posted that blues box set on my crappy blog ahaha! If interested help your self. :o)

  11. JoJo, thanks! I'll check that out ASAP. BTW, are you able to get any download counts on Megaupload?

  12. Smegmaupload has been stuck on zero for weeks. All I have is the free account and there is no more get so many downloads and get a premium account and no downloads count. Switched to fileserve but they have pop ups and captcha codes and it is not as fast a download. I'm pulling the parachute on it, I retire.

  13. mental illness (I love it!)August 13, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Love that scene in the Doors movie where Nico is sucking Jim off in the elevator, ahahaha!
    I smoked a big ol' quad sized blunt and saw that movie at the theater. It was as fun as my risperdal and thorazine treatments. :o)

  14. actually, now that I think about it, I believe I had dropped acid an hour or so before seeing that movie- I know this because I remember thinking the movie was good

  15. Yea Val didn't cut it as Mr. Mojo Risin' and Meg as Pam, come on. I loved the desert freak out scene where Densmore is about to have a bad trip and the Thanksgiving scene made me laugh out loud. [:-) When he is reading The Portable Nietzsche as part of film school that is an error, the book didn't come out until 1982.

  16. crack, I dug that acid trip scene too. Ah Nietzsche! my one guiding light. I teach him every chance I get and the "all-too-many" hates it


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