Hear Lost Acetate Versions of Songs from The Velvet Underground & Nico (1966)

While the first Vel­vet Under­ground album may only have sold 30,000 copies, every­one who bought one start­ed a band. You know, if you have even a faint acquain­tance with rock his­to­ry, that that well-worn obser­va­tion comes from pro­duc­er, artis­tic inno­va­tor, and “non-musi­cian” musi­cian Bri­an Eno. And whether you could get into it or not, you’ve no doubt heard at least parts of that first album, The Vel­vet Under­ground & Nico, the 1967 release that brought togeth­er such soon-to-be rock lumi­nar­ies as Lou Reed, John Cale, and the tit­u­lar Ger­man vocalist/Warhol Super­star Nico. The whole album, in fact, appeared under Warhol’s aegis, and like most works asso­ci­at­ed with him, it tends to push opin­ions far in one direc­tion or the oth­er. The Vel­vet Under­gound & Nico may still move you to found a rock band — or to scrap your inter­est in rock alto­geth­er — 45 years after its first release.

I refer to the record’s “first release” because it’s recent­ly under­gone a cou­ple more, both of which orig­i­nate in a ver­sion nev­er even intend­ed for mar­ket. “In 2002, a fel­low paid 75 cents at a New York City flea mar­ket for a curi­ous acetate record­ing of the Vel­vet Under­ground,” reports Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz. “Turns out, the acetate con­tained ear­ly record­ed takes and mix­es of songs in dif­fer­ent form.” That man had stum­bled upon the cov­et­ed Scepter Stu­dios acetate ver­sion of the album that launched 30,000 bands, boot­leg files of which soon began cir­cu­lat­ing on the net. The acetate received a legit­i­mate release last year as part of The Vel­vet Under­ground & Nico’s “45th Anniver­sary Super Deluxe Edi­tion,” and you can hear cuts from it, like “Hero­in” at the top of this post and “All Tomor­row’s Par­ties” just above. For Vel­vet Under­ground purists, of course, only hear­ing the acetate disc itself will do. They’ll have a hard time doing so — it last changed hands for $25,200 — but luck­i­ly they can now get at least one step clos­er with its brand new vinyl release.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Sym­pho­ny of Sound (1966): Vel­vet Under­ground Impro­vis­es, Warhol Films It, Until the Cops Turn Up

Andy Warhol Quits Paint­ing, Man­ages The Vel­vet Under­ground (1965)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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