Peggi Fournier, Dale Mincey, and Robert Marsella at Dale's apartment in Rochester, New York
Peggi Fournier, Dale Mincey, and Robert Marsella at Dale’s apartment in Rochester, New York

The coolest thing about “The Velvet Underground,” Todd Haynes new documentary on the seminal band’ is seeing people dancing to their music in the fabulous old clips of the band performing live. They worked enough for Jonathan Richmond to estimate that he saw the band sixty times but they never caught on or made any money. They were too arty and that aspect is the second coolest thing about this movie.

Plenty of foundational footage establishes the VU links to Lamont Young’s drones, Tony Conrad’s noise, John Cage’s minimalism and Allen Ginsburg’s poetry. John Cale’s rich European musical roots and Lou Reed’s dirty street smarts, pop sensibility and lyrics that read as poetry was a match made in heaven. Moe. Could any other drummer have bridged that gap so well. The movie sets the record straight on Warhol’s involvement. Nico was a brilliant addition and the songs she sings will live forever. Sterling Morrison and then Doug Yule completed the picture. The best rock band of all time!

I was so lucky that Tom Campbell, a year older so much hipper (before Viet Nam did a number on him), talked me into buying the first record at Midtown Records. That original pressing had the upside down guy on back, before he sued the band for using his image. I played that lp to death, lost the banana skin and gave the lp to my nephew, Eli Enis.


2 Replies to “VU”

  1. Eli cherishes that record. Kind of you to pass it on. I agree with your entire review of the movie and the band.

  2. And following this thread a little further. If not for this record I may not have heard Lamont Young at Christ’s Church, or gone to Tony Conrad’s party when he was teaching Media Arts at UB or seen him at the Bug Jar where he was too loud to hear, listened to Allen Ginsburg at Nazareth College, John Cage at UR, Lou Reed with Fernando Saunders and Robert Quine a few times, John Cale at CBGB’s New Year’s Eve ’76, the Penny Arcade where he opened his set wearing a hockey mask while strumming a bass guitar, at Scorgie’s on Election Eve 1984 where personal effects opened the show and then at BAM a few years ago.

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