A series of previously unreleased Velvet Underground performances will be issued, starting with The Velvet Underground Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes, a three-disc collection of material culled from three 1969 shows. The initial release, due on August 28th, will be part of an ongoing group of Velvet rarities unleashed from the Universal vaults.
The Quine Tapes were recorded with a single microphone plugged into a tape deck by Robert Quine, who would later become a founding member of Richard Hell and the Voidoids, as well as later collaborating with Velvets frontman Lou Reed on some of his solo albums, including The Blue Mask. Disc One and Disc Two were recorded in San Francisco during a month-long series of shows by the band at the Family Dog and Matrix clubs in November and December of 1969. The final disc is predominantly composed of the Matrix set, but with the addition of a twenty-nine-minute version of “Sister Ray/Foggy Notion” taped at Washington University in St. Louis in May, 1969. Only one track (“Rock and Roll” from the Matrix show) of the three discs has ever been released, appearing on Velvet Underground Live 1969 in a different mix.
“In the beginning, there weren’t many people in the audience,” Quine writes of the performances in the set’s liner notes. “There were a few nights when they started the first set with only four or five people in the club. Under those circumstances, the group couldn’t help but notice me, and they were very friendly, putting me on the guest list every night and inviting me to hang out with them in the dressing room between sets . . . Listening to this stuff all these years later, I’m ultimately the same fan I was in 1969.”
The Velvet’s lineup for the three shows spotlights the later era when they were more of a straightforward rock & roll four-piece — the avant-garde leaning John Cale (viola, bass, keys) had departed and been replaced by bassist/organist Doug Yule. Still, their live shows could hardly be considered traditional, as the Matrix set features a seventeen-minute excursion through “Follow the Leader,” ten minutes on “White Light/White Heat” and a lengthy, thirty-eight-minute jog through “Sister Ray.”