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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Sep 2019 > The Velvet Underground:.THE COMPLETE MATRIX TAPES POLYDOR/UME


It’s the first time on vinyl for this historic set from 1969 that captures the post-John Cale incarnation of the cult band in spectacular live form. Gary Tipp’s life is saved by rock & roll

From the druggy pop smarts of The Velvet Underground & Nico to the frenzied avantgarde dissonance of White Light/White Heat, from the contemplative folky comedown of the self-titled third to the skewed classic rock of Loaded, The Velvet Underground never made the same record twice. The reason, in part, is down to a crucial change to the band’s line-up after the second album, when Lou Reed, against the initial wishes of Sterling Morrison and Mo Tucker, cordially invited experimental Welsh noisenik John Cale to put his electric viola back in its case and take a hike.

Without Cale’s hissing white noise and experimental promptings The Velvet Underground’s sound mellowed significantly with the sonic emphasis returning to Reed’s considerable songwriting craft. And it is this rounded-atthe- edges incarnation of the band, with the curly-haired Doug Yule drafted in on bass, that features in The Complete Matrix Tapes, a highly-desirable eight-LP, 43-track vinyl boxset.


Originally released as a CD boxset, The Velvet Underground – The Complete Matrix Tapes (Polydor/ UME) makes its vinyl debut as a limited edition, eight-LP, 43-track boxset.

The post-Cale Velvet Underground toured extensively in 1969, and rocked up in San Francisco at the end of the year for a series of gigs, including at the semimythical club The Matrix, opened in a former pizza joint by Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin in 1965. Over the course of their residency, the club’s high-quality four-track recorder was rolling through much of it from a booth at the side of the stage. Two of these shows, on November 26 and 27, form the basis of the boxset. This means that across the 43 tracks there are multiple versions of the same song, for instance, there are no fewer than four versions of We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together.

The shows, as you can hear, were intimate affairs, and feature a relaxed Lou Reed happy enough to banter between songs (“This is a song about the sorrows of the contemporary world, of which I know we all know so well”). All four studio albums are represented on the setlist, including early versions of yet-to-berecorded songs such as Sweet Jane, New Age and Rock & Roll (which later appear on Loaded). Naturally, enough, Cale’s absence is felt and the lack of his experimental edge means that the early songs are entirely different propositions, and not all of the reimaginings translate successfully within the strippedback band dynamic; specifically a bizarre cocktail lounge version of I’m Waiting For The Man, a blunted, rambling White Light/White Heat and a challengingly marathon 36:54 version of Sister Ray. That’s not to say that all the songs from the first two albums suffer, far from it; a hushed version of Heroin is utterly thrilling, while the shimmering Venus In Furs resonates with a majestic splendour.

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About Long Live Vinyl

It's Just Rock 'N' Roll! Issue 30 of Long Live Vinyl celebrates the 25th anniversary of Oasis' stellar debut album, Definitely Maybe. Our exclusive collector's covers, shot by Oasis photographer Michael Spencer Jones, allow you to choose between Noel and Liam editions – or buy both! Inside, some of the band's closest allies talk us through the making of an album that sold 7 million copies and changed the face of British guitar music. In our packed interviews section, we sit down with Black Francis to hear why new Pixies album Beneath The Eyrie is among the best records they've ever made, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard take a rare break from recording to talk us through their new LP, Infest The Rats' Nest. Elsewhere, we meet one of the hottest new bands of 2019, WH Lung, and the founders of Sub Pop, the Seattle label that put grunge on the map. You'll also find an in-depth look at Talking Heads' 1979 classic Fear Of Music as well as 40 Essential Dream Pop albums to add to your collection. If all that's not enough, we bring you the most comprehensive range of new album, reissue, turntable and hi-fi reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers. Pick up your copy today…