Thursday, September 1, 2011

Velvet Underground Series, #3: The Velvet Underground & Nico- Psychedelic Sounds from the Gymnasium (2008) / All Tomorrow's Parties: Remembering The Velvet Underground (1996) MP3 & FLAC

"I'm searching for my mainline. I couldn't hit it sideways. I couldn't hit it sideways,
just like Sister Ray says."

Andy Warhol's "Exploding Plastic Inevitable" (originally called the "Irrupting Plastic Inevitable") debuted in early April 1966 at the Open Stage, a ballroom located above the Dom Bar & Restaurant in New York City's East Village, which Warhol had rented and turned into a makeshift nightclub. Early the following year, the son of the Polish owner of the restaurant approached Warhol about opening a new club on East 71st Street called The Gymnasium in a space that had originally housed a Czechoslovakian fitness & social club and that was still filled with old gym equipment. Not unpredictably, Warhol, whose plan was to create "New York's most happening discotheque," decided to leave the equipment in the club for his patrons to use if they felt so inclined. As can be imagined, the cavernous Gymnasium was not an ideal place to play a gig; however, during the club's tenuous existence (it was in a poor location and Warhol did not have an exclusive lease), Warhol was able to attract a number of bands/musicians to play there in addition to his "proteges," The Velvet Underground, who held residency at The Gymnasium during the club's first month, more or less using the gigs to fine tune their live act for the "Exploding Plastic Inevitable" (which they would play for the final time the following month). On April 30th, which was the last night of The Velvets' residency, the opening band included future Blondie guitarist Chris Stein (then a teenager): "We hung around for a little while and they played records, then we headed up for the stage. It was a big echoey place; we had absolutely no conception of playing a place like this whatsoever, but Maureen Tucker said we could use their equipment. So we plugged into their amps and the amps were all cranked up superloud [....] We must have played five or six songs and then we just gave up. By that time, the rest of The Velvets had arrived. After a while they started to play and they were like awesomely powerful [....] I was really disappointed that they didn't have Nico, because we thought she was the lead singer, but I distinctly remember the violin and their doing "Venus in Furs" because a couple of people in dark outfits got up and started doing a slow dance with a chain in between them. There were maybe thirty people there. It was very late, but it was a memorable experience."

The final night of The Velvets' residency at The Gymnasium was billed as "National Swingers Night," and at some point the fateful decision was made to capture the band's performance on reel-to-reel tape, which was a very uncommon occurrence during The Velvets' association with Warhol; what's even more surprising is that the parties concerned decided to do so in the absence of the band's "chanteuse," Nico, who had not returned from a trip to Ibiza. Psychedelic Sounds from The Gymnasium features this reel-to-reel recording (though there is some disagreement over whether it is the complete performance), and it is, quite possibly, the most important "unofficial" Velvet Underground recording in existence. This is due not only to the historic value of the recording and its surprising sonic clarity, but also to the performances, including a song that appears nowhere else in The Velvet's official and unofficial discographies: "I'm Not a Young Man Anymore." Listening to Reed's spidery guitar figure and his dark, mantra-like vocals, it's hard not to wonder how the song was never recorded in the studio, as it is easily the equal of a number of songs from both The Velvet Underground & Nico  and White Light / White Heat. Another gem is the first public performance of the epic "Sister Ray," whose crunchy guitar groove likely inspired Stein's description of the band that night as "awesomely powerful." Psychedelic Sounds from the Gymnasium captures The Velvet Underground at their grimy, arty best and makes pointedly clear what set this band apart both musically and lyrically. John Cale: "There was commitment there. That was the powerful advantage that all of Lou's lyrics had. All Bob Dylan was singing was questions- How many miles? and all that. I didn't want anymore questions. Give me some tough social situations and show that answers are possible."

Psychedelic Sounds from the Gymnasium   
(XTV ~ 2008 ~ Bootleg CD)

1. I'm Not a Young Man Anymore  (7:16)
2. Guess I'm Falling in Love  (4:12)
3. I'm Waiting for the Man  (5:31)
4. Run Run Run  (6:55)
5. Sister Ray  (18:52)
6. Booker. T.  (6:38)

MU: Lossless (FLAC)

The Velvet Underground: A Workout at The Gymnasium  
(Velvet Records ~ 2008 ~ Bootleg Vinyl)

1. I'm Not a Young Man Anymore  (7:18)
2. Guess I'm Falling in Love  (4:18)
3. I'm Waiting for the Man  (5:25)
4. Run Run Run  (6:55)
5. Sister Ray  (18:56)

All Tomorrow's Parties: Remembering The Velvet Underground   
(Andy Warhol Museum ~ 1996 ~ Bootleg CD)


-Reheasal in Warhol's Factory, Jan. 3, 1966
 1. Walk Alone  (3:21)
 2. Venus in Furs / Crackin' Up  (3:18)
 3. Rhythm & Blues Instrumental  (3:13)
 4. Run Run Run / Miss Joanie Lee  (11:58)
 5. Day Tripper Intro / Boom Boom Boom Boom Instrumental  (6:24)
 6. Rockabilly Instrumental  (1:21)
 7. Blues Instrumental  (5:24)
 8. Heroin  (6:17)
 9. There She Goes Again  (3:35)
10. Green Onion  (6:02)
11. There She Goes Again  (4:23)

-Up Tight Performance at Cinematheque. N.Y.C., Feb. 6, 1966
12. Heroin  (4:14)
13. I'll Keep It with Mine  (3:44)
14. European Son / Suzy-Q  (4:16)

-Rehearsal in Warhol's Factory before the EPI tour, March 7, 1966
15. Get It on Time  (2:22)
16. I'll Be Your Mirror  (3:23)


  1. Love the old Vox amp, found one back in the spring but it had water damage from being in a flooded basement. :o( Now downloading, thanky.

  2. Holy cow where did you find this? Thank you!

  3. knokkelmann, my pleasure. This one took me forever. I've been feeling sick the past few days and I thought I'd never get this post up. Tones on Tail up next! :)

  4. scurfie, I have my ways ;) you're welcome; it's an amazing boot

  5. You are awesome, voixautre! Thank you so much!!

  6. Anon., it was a pleasure getting these bootlegs out there. "Gymnasium" is essential!

  7. You've got to own a real(velvet)goldminde to post materials like this:) Can't wait for the next Velvet post. Thanx!

  8. (rl) matiné, I've got a seemingly endless supply of Velvet-related stuff. I can't wait until the next post either (I love writing about this band)

  9. These two posts are amazing! Many thanks for sharing. It does appear that they are essential VU boots. Thanks again. Kurt

  10. Thanks very much!

  11. Kurt, my pleasure. "Gymnasium" is one of my favorite VU recordings

  12. Anyone else having trouble playing the Gymnasium files? They have the suffix .wv and I can't play them.

  13. Anon., I need more info. Which Gymnasium bootleg are you referring to? I posted two.

  14. the one with these tracks:

    01 - I'm Not A Young Man Anymore.wv
    02 - Guess I'm Falling In Love.wv
    03 - I'm Waiting For The Man.wv
    04 - Run Run Run.wv
    05 - Sister Ray.wv

  15. Anon., I fixed the problem. You should be able to play the files now

  16. Aloha from japan! Guess I'm Falling in Love


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