Velvet Underground-Venus In Furs.

29 06 2012




“Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart.”

There’s always a band, a song, a record that changes everything for you. It can be specific point in a song that just makes you think “Oh shit..this is it .THIS IS IT.” You don’t care if the end of the world comes because you’re in the midst of hearing something truly incredible. It doesn’t have to be a song from decades ago. It could be a song you heard this week, there’s no time constraint on this. It’s all about that moment, and how it makes you feel. For instance, most of these intense feelings for me, come from hearing Warpaint. Certain songs have precise moments that conjure up this feeling. Beach House too. But if we’re going back in time, I’m taking it back to the time of Velvet Underground.

Velvet Underground indulged in drug riddled, sexually fuelled and decadent lyrics. Thing is, these things are only seen as decadent by those who are small-minded and prudish, you know? No good ever came from being small-minded. I’m not saying let’s all go have drug induced orgies in the street. Can you imagine if that ever happened? “Yeah what happened was..I was err…well, Lou Reed’s voice just turned me on and this happened.” It could happen. Let’s hope it does, just to shock everyone.

I remember first hearing Venus In Furs when I was very very young. My uncle is a HUGE fan of anything Lou Reed has ever done (doubt he rates the Metallica thing.) And I remember one day being played the first Velvet Underground record. It was like some kind of epiphany. I wasn’t just hearing a collection of songs. I was hearing poetry. I was hearing music that would go on to play such a huge role in my life. It is Lou’s lyrics in general that have this wonderful grip on me.

Venus In Furs is a song that hypnotises you. There is something about the way it creeps up on you, swirls itself in and out of you. Then it eventually wraps itself around you like a serpent, holding onto you for the rest of time. You don’t allow yourself to feel this strongly towards any other song because this this one just makes you come alive.

This is just musically. Lyrically it’ll leave you weeping into your hands because you know that there is no other song in the world that has been written like this since. Others probably try to write something as powerful as this. The lyrics in this song are sheer poetry.

The song oozes ideas of bondage and submission. The way Lou delves into this world is in a way that, anyone else would probably make it so smutty and degrading. He does it in a way that sounds like something that just happens, anyone else would make it extremely perverse. Maybe at the time it was.

The intro of the song is carried throughout the song. It sounds a bit like nails on a chalkboard. It makes your face crease up, you squirm. Like you are writhing about in pain. But do you turn away? Nah. Far from it. You keep going. You stay with this. There are parts of this song that mean more to me than any other song I have ever heard. Lou manages to sum up exactly how I feel in one verse. No other song can actually get to the core like he did with this song :

“I am tired, I am weary. I could sleep for a thousand years. A thousand  dreams that would awake me. Different colours made of tears.”

I just adore this so much. I guess it is because I constantly feel like this. Tired. Always tired. The rest of the song? I cannot relate to. But, like I’ve stated- this song changed everything for me. It just makes you appreciate music in a different way. It’s on a different level to anything before or after it.

The song is full of sinister lines that make you smirk. If you just listen to the song casually and take nothing in, you’re not listening to it properly. I’ve played the song so many times, and every time I notice a different line to just love.

“Taste the whip, in love not given lightly.”

I think even if you weren’t sure on the subject matter of this brilliant track, this line sums up exactly what it is about. Dark and twisted. Would you have it any other way? Of course you wouldn’t.

If I was going to introduce someone to Velvet Underground (I’d take much pleasure in doing so I reckon) this would be the song I’d use firstly. I suppose if this didn’t do anything for them I’d be hurt in some way ha. Maybe it is THE ultimate Velvet Underground song. I’ll always regard it as one of the greatest songs ever written. I do think though, my heart has a firm attachment to Run Run Run (hence the blog name Gypsy Death And You…reference to The Kills of course!) I just have so much love and respect for Velvet Underground.

Songs as deep and as raw as this do not exist anymore. They do not have that intense build-up within them. I am fascinated by how the intro is throughout and makes you squirm. Play this song to the most uptight and prudish person you know, watch their reaction. You’ll want to film it. Unless they are not a deep thinker. If that’s the case, they won’t get it will they. Shame.

Velvet Underground are a band I feel that when you listen to them for the first time- that’s it. You’re hooked. It doesn’t matter at what point in your life you are turned onto them, their music is timeless. GOOD music is just like that. You still feel part of it no matter what. They started something no one else has managed to even compete with. Those that are influenced by them carry their importance around and spread the word. Velvet Underground went beyond being just a band. Venus In Furs has all these different layers to it then you truly get from listening through headphones. Something takes you over. Hooked and hypnotised. Just how it should be. When a song like this comes from a band’s debut record, you know you have found something life-changing and inspiring.


4 09 2011

So if we’re going to talk distinctive voices there’s quite frankly only one that is more superior than most. Now, my opinion on this is more than likely going to be biased due to the fact that this goddess of a woman was once part of my second favourite band ever in the history of bands. She was part of a movement that, at the time was truly wonderful. But now? Most under the age of 20 that listen to this band are culturally starved and self absorbed fools who take photos of themselves with their camera phone in shot. Oh and whilst they do this they complain of how fat they are when they weigh about 4 stone.

This isn’t going the way it should, but I don’t want to delete that paragraph because it is true. These woe-is-me hipster kids don’t know much, they’ve not lived. I mean I’m nearly 25, but I don’t claim to have lived much. I exist, and when life improves- I’ll go from existing to living.

I should really make my point rather than going on. I guess I’ve just got a lot to say.

Christa Päffgen quite simply had the most distinctive voices, ever. Seriously, ever. Okay so you may know her as Nico. The model, actress, singer, mother, daughter- regardless. She had talent. More than you have and more than I have. She had SUCH powerful voice. Husky at times and seductively deep. The way she sang on The Velvet Underground’s debut album just gripped me. It’s my favourite debut album ever; Nico’s vocals are a huge reason as to why I love it so much.

It’s not just her work with Velvet Underground that gripped me so; her solo work is equally as gorgeous.

My mum always seemed to play singers around the house that had strong voices. Voices that sounded like no other from Bob Dylan to Billie Holiday, I was blessed to hear them all. Joan Baez to Grace Slick, I had a healthy consumption of stunning music whilst growing up. I like to think I’ve honoured all my mum taught me about music by continuing to listen to music that can be held up against its predecessors.

Nico’s deep voice evidently inspired so many. Her sound wasn’t Punk, soul, pop, rock, folk or funk. It was her own. At best, I suppose if you want to label it- it was highly experimental. At the time, no other singer had this kind of voice. The way her voice complimented Lou Reed’s was just utterly stunning.

Before she met Lou and the rest of The Velvet Underground, she was a solo artist and before that she was a model. Now, as I’m no expert in the modelling department, I’m going to focus on her music. Not that I’m an expert in music, but you know what I mean.

Nico’s first solo single was the insanely wonderful, I’m Not Sayin’. I adore this song so much, for so many reasons. It’s just highly captivating and so moving. It’s such a beautiful, honest and heartbreaking song. Read the lyrics, you’re not human if you cannot relate to the lyrics at all. Oh, and Morrissey digs this song a whole lot too. Anyone that has seen him live with has been exposed to the glorious videos he plays before he comes on stage, and this is one of them.

Her first album, Chelsea Girl was released in 1967, which is the same name of the Warhol film Nico appeared in.

Before she released her debut solo album, she recorded one album with The Velvet Underground- yes the one with the banana on. Quite simply the best debut album ever.

Her voice on Femme Fatale always amazes me, it doesn’t matter how many times I listen to it. Each time feels like I am listening to it for the first time. That’s when you know a band have something truly special.

Hard to believe that at the time, this album was basically ignored.

You’d think that when an artist puts out a solo album they are free to do what they want. Say if they are in a heavy metal band, then can release an opera solo album if they wish. Why? Because they have no one to answer to and they can do whatever they wish.

Sadly, this wasn’t the case for Nico. She wanted more drums and guitars on her solo albums. What did she get? Flutes. Lots and lots of FLUTES! It broke her heart.

Her next two albums, Desertshore and The End had less flutes and more synths. Drama of Exile was the first album she recorded without John Cale (The Velvet Underground.) Her final album, Camera Obscura, however did feature John Cale on the album’s title track and he also produced the album.

Her take on My Funny Valentine is easily one of the darkest versions of the song recorded. There was so much pain in Nico’s voice on this song.

With such a distinctive voice and a catalogue of remarkable albums, it is no wonder that Nico has influenced so many artists. She never had an act; she was just true to herself and her art. The best kind never make compromises, they do what feels right to them. That’s how it should always be, no matter whom you are and what you do.

She’s influenced the likes of Bat For Lashes, Siouxsie Sioux, Bauhaus, Patti Smith and Morrissey. All of which have always stayed true to their art. Her delicate but powerful performances have influenced so many, more recently- Florence Welch.

A talent like Nico’s is extremely rare, voices as powerful as hers do not come around often, it’s just a shame it took her death for people to actually see how talented she truly was. She wasn’t just another girl in a Warhol film nor was she just another model. She had a gift, a rare talent. Something we hope and dream of having. Her voice had so much in it, and the pain you could feel in certain songs just made you connect with her in a way you’ll probably never feel again. You’ve probably only felt it when listening to Billie Holiday or Janis Joplin.

“I find it hard to believe you don’t know, the beauty you are. But if you don’t let me be your eyes, a hand in your darkness, so you won’t be afraid.”

The Importance Of Velvet Underground.

16 07 2011

Understatement of the year, but there is so much music out there. You cannot subject yourself to one genre. I will always say Punk Rock owns my heart. It always has, and always will. The angst, the passion, the drive, and the lust- everything about it appeals to me. Patti, Ramones. New York Dolls, Television, Richard Hell, Iggy etc.

One band in particular has everything I love about music in one. Everything I want in a band is in this band. The lyrics, the way the vocals are delivered, the honesty, the brutality, the tragedy, the agony, the joy, blood, sweat and tears.

This band has created music that just evokes so much imagery and feeling. So much darkness, so much passion. This band makes me want to travel back in time and live in New York City.

This band of course is Velvet Underground.

The smoky bluesy guitar, Lou and Nico’s overwhelmingly powerful and enchanting voices make you feel like you are lost in a dream. Lost with no desire to ever be found because what you have found in Velvet Underground you will never find in any band or person again. What you have found is this spiritual connection. What you have found is hope and a dream. Sometimes these two factors do not work, but they do here.

Regardless of what you may think of Andy Warhol, it was he who suggested that the band used Nico on their debut album- which I (and many many others) regard this to quite possibly be the greatest debut album of all time. Their debut album offers the listener so much, and after listening- no matter when your first time was, you find it hard to believe music can actually get better than this. It’s an album you can use to escape from the world or just sit and read to. It’s unbelievable perfect from start to finish. Also, Andy Warhol allowed the band to have the freedom to do what they wanted with this album- what would it have sounded like if he was to have taken control? Would it have been so effortlessly raw? Would the production have been text book perfect? Who knows. All that matters is that their first album is quite simply one of the greatest albums ever and THE greatest debut album ever.

White Light/White Heat is a phenomenal second album, the band proved with this album that the “dreaded second album blues” was not for them. It is still on a par with their first album- a difficult thing to do, but it can still be done. Sadly, it was the last album John Cale appeared on and there was no Nico. I must add here that, Nico’s voice is constantly missed. There has never been and never will be a voice quite like her. So husky, so defiant- just beautiful.

However, I personally feel their third album is THE ONE. This could be due to my overriding obsession with Pale Blue Eyes and That’s The Story Of My Life. Or, the fact that it is actually a mind-blowing album. Velvet Underground is a band that you just cannot find any fault in at all. The consistency of Lou’s lyrics and his vocals are so perfect. So perfect. You cannot help but think he is not from this planet. He’s a machine or something.

Reason why Loaded is perfect? I Found A Reason. If I ever found some poor girl willing to spend her life with me- that song would be the song I’d play at the wedding. Followed by Cat Power’s version of it. It is a truly gorgeous song. Its how a love song should be.

The sound that Velvet Underground created became instantly timeless. A sound that so many came to adore, and from it- started their own band. One band in particular that gives me the same feelings, ideas and images that VU are The Kills. Their bluesy escapism is quite frankly the most glorious thing I have heard from a band that only has two members. Their covers of VU songs are equally as perfect as the originals. Especially their cover of Pale Blue Eyes. Alison’s voice on this cover is so haunting yet angelic at the same time- pain mixed with innocence. I’m Set Free and Venus In Furs are wonderfully covered too.

VU are a band that I wouldn’t approve of anyone covering. Just no. yet when The Kills do it, you get exactly the same feeling Lou Reed and John Cale give you- that is when a cover is well done. If a cover can make you feel the same way the original does- then it’s a bloody good version.

I love The Kills as much as I love VU, so I suppose them covering VU isn’t going to offend me at all. If only Lou Reed would cover Rodeo Town or Wait! Even better, they do a record together. Either or I’d be happy with.

Are any bands that are around now going to have the same effect on bands like VU have? Will any band ever again create a sound like they have?

Everyone’s answer is different. Mine is no. Some would say yes. Personally, I prefer listening to old bands. Bands that started before I was born. For some odd reason I feel more connection to them. Thing is, nothing is new anymore. It has all been done and there comes a time where you just have to go back to the old stuff because everything was entirely different.

Bands that were classed as Punk may have all fell into the same genre- however they didn’t sound the same. You could tell each artist apart from each other.  Whereas now, if artists all fall into the same genre- you cannot possibly tell who is different.I know living in the past does nobody any favours ever, but sometimes it is more than acceptable to go back there in a musical sense.

There will never be another Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, MC5, Ramones etc but there will always be another…well, you don’t need me to name names. It’s fairly obvious isn’t it.