The Velvet Underground Singles 1966-69 is a seven-disc box set honoring the legendary New York combo's 7" vinyl output in their rare mono versions. The set features exact reproductions of Velvet Underground singles, two of them with their original picture sleeves. The singles are packaged in a distinctively designed box, along with rare vintage photos and new liner notes by Rolling Stone's David Fricke (who also penned the acclaimed notes for the historic 1995 Velvets CD box set Peel Slowly and See).
The Velvet Underground - whose membership included Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, Doug Yule and Nico - introduced numerous sonic and thematic innovations that laid much of the groundwork for punk and alternative rock. Although they're now acknowledged as one of the most influential bands in rock history, during their existence the Velvets barely registered on mainstream radar, and were often reviled by mainstream observers as well as hippie-era arbiters of cool. But, as Fricke writes in the new set's liner notes, "Somewhere, in another rock & roll universe, the Velvet Underground are more than a legendary band. They are stars, with hit singles - the original seven-inch masterpieces inside this box."
Although they never came close to scoring a hit, the Velvet Underground was ideally suited to the 7" single format. "The Velvet Underground were a great singles band," David Fricke notes, adding that the Velvets "Invented modern rock with searing guitar distortion, throbbing improvisation and brutally realistic tales of life on the wild side. But they did it all in these classic pop songs - compact miracles of raw drive, intimate beauty and Top 40 ecstasy, heard again in the original, thrilling mono singles mixes."
The seven singles included in The Velvet Underground Singles 1966-69 comprise the four Velvets singles originally released in the U.S. on the Verve and MGM labels, plus an additional pair of singles that were prepared for release but never made it to the marketplace and a special radio-only promotional single. The singles feature alternate mono versions that differ in significant ways from the songs' better-known stereo album version. For instance, the band's 1966 debut single "All Tomorrow's Parties" appears here in a special mono edit that amplifies the song's melodic beauty and sonic tension, and a mono mix of their sophomore single "Sunday Morning" emphasizes the song's haunting quality. Meanwhile, the mono single version of White Light / White Heat" exemplifies the vintage Velvets' stark, distortion-laden fury, while a mono edit of "What Goes On" accentuates that song's inherent pop jangle.
The Velvet Underground Singles 1966-69 also includes two unissued singles, one with a never-released pairing of "White Light/White Heat" backed by "I Hear Her Call My Name" and the other with "Temptation Inside Your Heart" and "Stephanie Says", recorded in the waning days of the band's classic Reed/Cale/Morrison/Tucker lineup and unheard by the public for nearly two decades thereafter. The set's seventh single is a reproduction of a vintage promotional disc, a two-and-a-half minute radio spot promoting the band's eponymous third album and featuring legendary disc jockey Bill "Rosko" Mercer, with excerpts from "I'm Set Free", "What Goes On" and "Beginning to See the Light", as well as a picture sleeve with an un-airbrushed variation on the album's iconic cover art.
By presenting the Velvets as a singles band, The Velvet Underground Singles 1966-69 collection shows, in David Fricke's words, "rock history the way it should have been: the Velvet Underground as the New York Beatles, guaranteed to blow up your radio and your mind."
7" Vinyl Singles
7LP Box Set
Rare Mono Singles
Exact reproduction singles
Packaged in distinctively designed box
Rare vintage photos
New liner notes by Rolling Stone's David Fricke
7th single features picture sleeve - un-airbrushed variation on the album's iconic cover art
A. All Tomorrow's Parties
B. I'll Be Your Mirror
A. Sunday Morning
B. Femme Fatale
A. White Light/White Heat
B. Here She Comes Now
A. White Light/White Heat
B. I Heard Her Call My Name (Cancelled Single)
A. Temptation Inside Your Heart
B. Stephanie Says (Cancelled Single)
A. What Goes On
A. VU Radio Spot