The big music news this week is…new old never-before-heard Velvet Underground song. And yep – it’s true. The legendary Gymnasium tape – from a sparsely attended April 1967 show, also including the first live performance of “Sister Ray” – has made its way at last to bootleggers. (Thanks to Dana, former proprietor of The Mystical Beast, for alerting me to this one before Stereogum and Pitchfork got hold of it…) There’s an interesting discussion of the tape’s provenance and legitimacy – beginning before anyone had actually heard it – at this site.
For a lost, thirty-year-old tape, the sound is pretty damned fine. It’s a soundboard recording, so Reed’s vocals are very high in the mix, and you can barely hear Moe Tucker’s drums – but the guitar playing is scorching, particularly on “Run Run Run.”
Oh, and that “new” song? It’s called “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore” (not true then, true now), and while it doesn’t cause any major reevaluation of the VU catalog, it’s an interesting song in that it has a far stronger blues flavor than nearly anything else they recorded.
(The whole thing is available here – and I think there’s another few links buried in that discussion somewhere, if that one isn’t working.)
The Velvet Underground “Run Run Run” (live, April 1967, at The Gymnasium)
The Velvet Underground “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore” (live, April 1967, at The Gymnasium)