Peel Slowly and See

Packaged by a plastic daemon in love with packaging, the Velvet Underground secured a record contract and released their first album. Angus MacLise had been transmogrified into a mallet wielding IBM keypunch operator and a new dimension in vocals had been added by a fairy ghost on sabbatical from a German model-shop.

The album featured both human and fairy compositions. The fairy creations “Sunday Morning”  and “I’ll Be Your Mirror” (written by Celesta) were sung by Nico, who was also the subject of the Lou Reed song “Femme Fatale”. The other tracks on the album (also penned by Reed) were more sex and drugs (influences including the books of William Burroughs, another daemon fond of brightly coloured packaging).

The music was nothing short of magic. Whilst human and fairy vocals competed for funeral rights, Sterling Morrison’s highly versatile guitar playing  – ranging from the ephemeral (“Femme Fatale”, “Heroin”) through rollin’ country (“Run, Run, Run) to the totally baroque (“Venus in Furs”) – kept things sliding along. Against a backbeat provided by Maureen Tucker – sometimes assisted by a sombre boogie-woogie keyboard (“I’m Waiting for the Man”) – John Cale’s overloaded electric viola flayed off in all directions (esp. on “The Black Angel’s Death Song” and “European Son”), providing a truly multi-dimensional experience.

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