The Velvet Underground

Live at End Cole Ave.

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Sometimes archival material which first appeared on a bootleg album will later find authorized release with improved sound quality, but the Velvet Underground's boot Live at End Cole Ave. is a rare example of this process working in reverse. In 1969, the Velvet Underground played a few dates at a club in Dallas, TX, called the End of Cole Avenue, and a fan who worked as a recording engineer brought a tape machine and mics and recorded two nights of their stand. Years later, the End of Cole Avenue's tapes were combined with recordings from 1969 shows in San Francisco for the album 1969: Velvet Underground Live, but by the time Mercury Records got their hands on the Dallas recordings, they were several generations removed from the original source material. Live at End Cole Ave. (as a grammatically challenged bootlegger has chosen to call it) was mastered from the original first generation tapes of the October 28, 1969, End of Cole Avenue recordings, and while the differences in the sound quality aren't dramatic, the absence of the blanket of hiss which has usually hovered over these performances is more than welcome; this is certainly one of the very best-sounding Velvets live recordings extant (though the levels tend to fluctuate in mid-song). Also, a number of performances which didn't make the cut for the 1969: Velvet Underground Live album are here, and if these tapes capture the band in relatively subdued form, the performances are committed and emphatic, and add further evidence to the theory that this band never played a song the same way twice. Disc one is the meat of this performance; disc two, beyond an unusually introspective version of "Sister Ray," is filler, and the 30-minute jam session is an unfocused mess which, according to some sources, is just Sterling Morrison playing with some locals. Still, this is a fascinating bit of Velvet Underground arcania and great rock & roll in its own right; now would someone care to dig up the unedited versions of the San Francisco tapes from 1969: Velvet Underground Live and give them an airing as well?

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