The Velvet Underground

If It's Too Loud for You Move Back!

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This two-CD Japanese bootleg of a show at the Valleydale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio, on November 4, 1966 is the only live document that gives a representative slice of the Velvet Underground's repertoire in their early days. For that reason alone, it has some historical significance. As music, though, it's not something you'll pull out often for pleasure; for the simple reason that the fidelity is pretty crappy. The vocals suffer the most, but everything suffers a muffled indistinction to a considerable degree. That's unfortunate, as this contains live versions of seven of the ten songs from their classic debut album, including such famous songs as "Venus in Furs," "Heroin," "I'm Waiting for the Man," "All Tomorrow's Parties," and "Femme Fatale," and also has Nico on vocals for the last two of those numbers. You can hear, though, that onstage the arrangements were quite close to those heard on the record (though "Run Run Run" gets stretched out to almost ten minutes), down to John Cale's piano and viola on "All Tomorrow's Parties" and "The Black Angel's Death Song" respectively. As for the two songs that didn't show up on the group's official albums, "Melody Laughter" and "The Nothing Song," these are in fact not so much songs as half-hour instrumental noise rock jams with occasional faint moan-vocals. (Ten minutes of "Melody Laughter" were included on the VU box Peel Slowly and See, but this bootleg has the full 28-minute version; both "Melody Laughter" and "The Nothing Song" comprised the LP bootleg 1966.) Although there's also a selection titled "Lou Says" in the track listing, that's just a 38-second snatch of between-song chatter.