Why must you watch these Velvet Underground documentaries? Simple. There are few bands as absolutely seminal as the Velvet Underground. Hopefully you already know who they are, and why they’re the fertile crescent of Shadow that gives depth and perspective to the Optimistic Arrogance of the 60s. They’re a counterpoint to the Love Generation. Not pessimistic, or mopey, at all. Just dark and realistic. They’re the hours of hellish introspection that follow the euphoric trip. That’s it. They’re the comedown.
Velvet Underground Documentaries Number One
A Closer Look
A Closer Look (aka Under Review) is a recent (new millennium) documentary that features tons of Warhol Factory people, music critics, and (to my delight) lots of Mo Tucker and Doug Yule. It’s just about as good as it gets as far as Velvet Underground documentaries go. This video has been encoded at an abysmal 144p, which is super low res. However, it’s the one I can find online that’s complete. You can hunt around and find a higher res version in segments, if you’d like, but this one was satisfying to me.
You don’t get a lot of Doug Yule in most Velvet Underground documentaries. He was frozen out of their induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as their famous 1993 reunion tour. That’s too bad, because he was a contributor to their later work, and was a legit member who should be recognized for that. He burned bridges when he recorded a Velvet Underground album after Lou Reed left, without any other Velvets involved, but… so? The Velvets weren’t legends then. They were just a name to which Yule apparently had rights to use. Bad form perhaps, but not worth a 45 year ostracism.
Velvet Underground Documentaries Number Two
1987 French TV
I don’t even see a title for this one, but it’s from 1987, is just excellent, and.. it features interviews with Lou Reed, John Cale, and NICO (who died about a year later). Good stuff! Everyone is much younger, the band had been a viable force about 15 years prior (rather than 40+ in the first of the Velvet Underground documentaries), so everything is fresher. Plus the inclusion of Reed, Cale, and Nico, add gravitas to the story.
Excellent. You’ve watched both Velvet Underground documentaries, and are now converted. Welcome. Everyone should have a little Velvet in their collection, much in the same way millennials still buy Dark Side of the Moon. It’s canon.
So, if you’re a person of quality and would like to own some Velvets, I applaud you. Digital copies abound from the carrier of your choice, but if you want to own something you can hold, and kiss, and covet, and worship, then here are some suggestions from yours truly.
- Under Review (the first video in the post) – DVD http://amzn.to/2aleaql
- Redux MCMXCIII (Concert from their 1993 reunion) – DVD http://amzn.to/29MDCmF
- Peel Slowly and See (5 CD Box Set) – http://amzn.to/2aleG7L
- This has the 4 seminal albums, plus a TON of outtakes and live tracks. This should complete you as a human.
- LIVE MCMXCIII – 2 CD set from their INCREDIBLE 1993 reunion tour – http://amzn.to/2alfo4L
- The Velvet Underground (self titled) – if you own just album of theirs, this is the one to get. http://amzn.to/2aleZ2k