WEIRDLAND: 50th Anniversary: The Velvet Underground and The Doors albums (Lou Reed & Jim Morrison)

Saturday, April 01, 2017

50th Anniversary: The Velvet Underground and The Doors albums (Lou Reed & Jim Morrison)

50th Anniversary of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" album (1967): If The Velvet Underground & Nico taught us anything, it’s that perfection in rock and roll is actually the inverse of perfection. There are no golden ratios to be found in Sterling Morrison’s spiraling guitar work on “Heroin”, no sublime sense of symmetry to glean from John Cale’s noisy electric viola on “Venus in Furs”. To a classically trained ear, a song like “Run Run Run” is a disaster masquerading as pop music. Lou Reed’s lead guitar lurches left and right with drunken imprecision, Moe Tucker’s drums play hide-and-seek, and producer Andy Warhol refuses to step in and color the scene with even the slightest hint of professionalism. It’s chaotic and also, 50 years after its initial release, widely considered to be one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all time. Lou Reed reminded me of Dylan with his rhythmic style, but he had this solemn, effortless swagger that was really cool. "My God is rock'n'roll," said Reed: "The most important part of my religion is to play guitar."  Source:

Lou Reed began suffering panic attacks and after a mental breakdown following his first semester at NYU, his parents submitted him for electroshock therapy. “Panic attacks and social phobias beset him,” wrote Lou Reed’s sister in 2015: “He possessed a fragile temperament. His hyper-focus on the things he liked led him to music and it was there that he found himself.” Reed’s love of music became his guide, and rock ‘n’ roll became his voice. He landed work as a pop songwriter, churning out middling hits for Pickwick Records while composing songs for himself on the side. “I studied classical piano, and the minute I could play something I started writing new things,” Reed said in 2004. “And I switched to guitar and did the same thing. And the nice thing about rock is, besides the fact that I was in love with it, anyone can play that. And to this day anyone can play a Lou Reed song. Anybody. It’s the same essential chords, just various ways of looking at them.” “Sunday Morning” is a beautiful ode to paranoia (“Watch out—the world’s behind you”), and an early indicator that Reed was capable of remarkably simple melodicism that rivaled the more mainstream songwriters of the era while not directly emulating any of them. With the benefit of hindsight, the most mythologized album of 1967, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, looks more like a relic of the Summer of Love and an exercise in pretentious pomposity. Conversely, The Velvet Underground and Nico looks more like the future of rock music. Glam, punk, noise rock, art rock, college rock—it all seemed to draw from The Velvet Underground and Nico. There has never been a rock album more ahead of its time. In many ways, the world is still catching up to it. Source:

50th Anniversary of "The Doors" (1967) album: In a contemporary review for Crawdaddy! magazine, Paul Williams hailed The Doors debut album as "an album of magnitude" while likening the band to Brian Wilson and the Rolling Stones as creators of "modern music", with which "contemporary 'jazz' and 'classical' composers must try to measure up". Williams added: "The awesome fact about the Doors is that they will improve." Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in his column for Esquire and later he would say: "Jimbo reminds us that some assholes actually do live with demons. His three sidemen rocked almost as good as the Stones. Without him they were nothing." The Doors has since been frequently ranked by critics as one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2003, Parke Puterbaugh of Rolling Stone called the record "the L.A. foursome's most successful marriage of rock poetics with classically tempered hard rock — a stoned, immaculate classic." Sean Egan of BBC Music opined, "The eponymous debut of The Doors took popular music into areas previously thought impossible: the incitement to expand one's consciousness of opener 'Break on Through' was just the beginning of its incendiary agenda." The Doors is ranked number 42 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It is ranked number 75 on Q magazine's "100 Greatest Albums Ever" and ranked number 226 in NME magazine's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time." In 2007, Rolling Stone ranked it number 1 on their list of the 40 essential albums of 1967. 

Lester Bangs suggested in "The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll" (1976)  that “Light My Fire” paved the way for “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones (an argument Greil Marcus picked up in his book "The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years" in 2013). Jim Morrison was ranked #1 of the Greatest Rock & Roll Rebels list in Rolling Stone, 2013. "Jim Morrison probably got the closest to being an artist within rock and roll. He was also desperate," said Patti Smith in 1977: "His death made me sadder than anyone's." The Doors released two more albums after Morrison's death before disbanding. Jim Morrison became a cult figure, celebrated for his excesses as much as his work, to Robby Krieger’s dismay. Krieger takes exception to Morrison’s depiction in Oliver Stone’s film “The Doors,” saying: “It just made him out to be a total ass.” 

"Let's just say I was testing the bounds of reality. That's all. I was curious. I kind of always preferred to be hated. I go out on stage and howl for people. In me, they see exactly what they want to see. Some say Lizard King, whatever that means. Or some black-clad leather demon, whatever that means." —Jim Morrison in "The Doors" (1991) directed by Oliver Stone

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