Bootleg Series V1: The Quine Tapes – The Velvet Underground
Rumors that the Underground were going to do a "Dick's Picks"-style series have been around for a few years. I had just about given
up on in when I got the news that volume one had been released.
There are two caveats needed before you spend any money on these CDs.
When they call this "the Bootleg Series", they mean it. These CDs are
based on Robert Quine's audience tapes from a series of shows from
1969. There is tape hiss, distortion, and boominess. Don't expect
audio perfection here. The second is that if you absolutely hate
Sister Ray, you should not buy this set. About 1/3 of each of the cds
is filled with versions of the song.
When I first put this in, I'll have to confess some trepidation over
the Sister Ray factor. One of the unfortunate aspects of the Velvet
Underground is that they had a juvenile streak in their lyrics.
With its lyrics about oral sex and shooting up, Sister Ray is the
worst example of this. Between that and not being convinced that the
Underground could maintain interest throughout a 30 minute jam, I was
expecting little out of those segments. Much to my surprise, they
turned out to be the highlights of the album.
Outside of the Sister Rays, there's a large hit and miss factor. Most
of the short songs suffer from the bootleg factor. If you haven't
noticed that Sunday Morning and I’ll Be Your Mirror are the same song,
these versions make it apparent. On the other hand, Ride Into the
Sun and Follow the Leader are cool new discoveries. The version of
Waiting for the Man has extra verses; admittedly they detract from
the song, but it's interesting to hear Reed play with the song like
that. If nothing else, the purchase is worth it for hearing the
Sister Ray > Foggy Notion > Sister Ray sandwich. The Velvet
Underground playing the setlist games of the Disco Biscuits. That's