The Velvet Underground

What Goes On?

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Before the full resources of Polydor were marshaled behind the creation of the Peel Slowly and See box set, this three-disc Australian import was the cat's pajamas among Velvet Underground anthologies, rounding up such then-legendary oddities as the mono mix of the band's first album, the so-called "closet" mix of their third, plus highlights from both the band's regular album catalog and the manifold rarities that drift around the collectors' market. Despite the fact that all are spoken-word cuts, it is the latter that remain What Goes On?'s greatest attraction -- at least for devotees. Less-convinced ears will probably be less impressed. The opening cut, "Andy Warhol Presents...," is, in fact, Warhol's own original announcement regarding the new band he was "sponsoring," taken from a WNET interview in February 1966. From there, listeners drift through the four minutes of chatter that appeared as a "soundpage" flexi-disc within the long-out-of-print book Andy Warhol's Index, eavesdrop on a conversation between Lou Reed and producer Tom Wilson taken from the 1968 MGM promotional Music Factory #3 album, and wrap it all up with excerpts from a 1990 interview discussing the band's reunion that was previously available only on a flexi-disc free with the What Goes On fanzine. Elsewhere, there is nothing here that either the box set or Rhino's "ultimate edition" of Loaded would not later make available, but that, of course, was a circumstance that Raven could never have predicted. As of 1993, this well-packaged box set had no peers and few fears of ever being usurped, and it's a sign of just how sensibly it was compiled that anybody seeking a simple best-of the band, one that goes beyond the four or five tracks that everyone thinks of as the "classics," would still be better off seeking this collection out than leaping into any more complete package.

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