Compilations of the velvet underground and Lou Reed in solo guise are nothing new?Polydor’s ‘Coke Bottle’ set and sundry Reed hits packages can be found next to the original artefacts, but with interest in the current New York scene reaching epidemic proportions in Europe, it’s timely to receive these complementary discs.
The Velvet Underground’s rise from cult heroes to car advertisers with an outtake that jingles like a nursery rhyme?”I’m sticking with you, cos I’m made out of glue”?shouldn’t disguise their more serious intent. As Andy Warhol’s house band at the Factory and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, the Velvets, with and without German chanteuse Nico, personified the cool, street-level stink of New York. They explored the leather-coated underbelly in “I’m Waiting For The Man” and “Venus In Furs” and made a late stab for radio-friendly acceptance with the classic Loaded album, which included “Sweet Jane” and “Rock And Roll”. This 18-cut single disc will do nothing to dissuade those who suspect Lou’s involvement was somewhat stronger than John Cale’s, but as a walk-in introduction it makes a great dinner party backdrop.
Lou’s much larger post-Velvets legacy is harder to cull. The double-CD NYC Man makes a decent fist of mixing the obvious with the esoteric?it even stays up to date thanks to a selection from The Raven. Potential buyers should note overlap in the Loaded department and may find themselves duplicating Transformer songs yet again. But anyone who missed out on New York, Magic And Loss or Set The Twilight Reeling (which provides the title cut) can buy a ticket and jump on that seamy subway.