Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Velvet Underground Special...Show # 300!

This week Revolution Rock aired for its 300th time on the CJAM airwaves.  To celebrate this event this weeks show focused on the music of the highly influential Velvet Underground. This week I will discuss the song Sister Ray.

Sister Ray (from White Light/White Heat 1968)

This is an avant-garde song that is featured on the bands 1968 album White Light/White Heat and is over 17 minutes long. The music is credited to the entire band and was apparently written by Sterling Morrison, John Cale, and Maureen Tucker during the bands Exploding Plastic Inevitable tour with Andy Warhol while Lou Reed was in the hospital with hepatitis. The song itself was recorded in a single take in September of 1967 at Scepter Studios in New York City. During the recording of the song the bands engineer at the time has been rumoured to have started the recording and then apparently told the band to come get him when they were done. On the recording Lou Reed covers vocals and guitar, Maureen Tucker is on drums, Sterling Morrison is on guitar and John Cale plays an organ that was amplified through a distorted guitar amplifier, there is no bass. Morrison’s guitar was also switched to the bridge pick up for the recording to give according to him `"extra oomph". The song comes off displaying elements of Garage and Psychedelic Rock music in a fashion that is not unlike The Stooges at times. This song was also a live favourite and when played it usually lasted for half and hour or more, it would end their sets.  Lyrics to the song can be described by a quote from Lou Reed himself in The Stranger in which he said:

"'Sister Ray' was done as a joke--no, not as a joke, but it has eight characters in it and this guy gets killed and nobody does anything. The situation is a bunch of drag queens taking some sailors home with them, shooting up on smack and having this orgy when the police appear. The jam came about right there in the studio. We didn't use any splices or anything. When we did 'Sister Ray,' we turned up to 10 flat-out, leakage all over the place. [The producers] asked us when it would end. We didn't know. We were doing the whole heavy-metal trip back then. If 'Sister Ray' isn't an example of heavy metal, I don't know what is."

More information on The Velvet Underground can be found in a previous post I did on the band, What Went On: The Story of The Velvet Underground

VU Play List:

1. Sunday Morning
2. Femme Fatale
3. Stephanie Says
4. Temptation Inside Your Heart
5. We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together
6. Coney Island Steeplechase
7. Who Loves the Sun
8. Beginning to See the Light
9. New Age
10. Heroin
11. What Goes On (Closet Mix)
12. White Light/White Heat
13. Guess I'm Falling in Love (Live)
14. Satellite of Love
15. I'm Waiting For the Man (Different Take)
16. After Hours
17. I Can't Stand It
18. Sister Ray

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for May 18. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.


The Disappeared said...

Nice piece of background info, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site revrock.blogspot.com
Is this possible?

Dave said...

Anonymous, it is possible. What is your website?