The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Musical Indulgence #7:
Christmas Week Edition


Could there have been a more anachronistic album cover in 1973 than that of The Velvet Underground's final LP, Squeeze? Not only was there something embarassingly passe about its Psychedelicized artwork, but what in hell was the Empire State Building doing on an album that wasn't even released in the United States? Lou Reed had taken that New York after-hours aesthetic with him when he quit the band during the recording of their Loaded LP in 1970. Undaunted, the Velvets (what was left of them) soldiered on, with mystic Drummer Maureen 'Mo' Tucker and Bassist Doug Yule taking up the moribund standard by touring overseas. They had to add a couple of new faces to the act (Guitarist Sterling Morrison seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way), and it all would have ended with as little fanfare as it started if Steve Sesnick, the group's manager, hadn't wrangled a recording deal with Polydor in Great Britain.

When the time came to record, another Pop music tradition was observed: With the exception of Doug Yule, who contributed the vocals, none of the Velvets (even the recent additions) participated. There would be no feedback workouts, no lyrics about all that gamy and beautiful subject matter infesting the earlier albums. This was a Pop exercise produced by the Drummer from Deep Purple (Ian Paice), and rendered with dispatch by a fleet of anonymous session players. Quick-buck textbook stuff; just like a Paul Revere and The Raiders LP.

When it was released in Europe, Squeeze failed to break open the album charts (but then, of what Velvet Underground album can this not be said?). It was, in fact, dead on arrival.

And that was, for all intent, the end of The Velvet Underground.

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