Monday, October 28, 2013

bonus features: lou reed's walk on the wild side, in toronto

This post offers supplementary material for a Torontoist post I recently wrote, which you should dive into before reading any further. 

Source: the Globe and Mail, November 14, 1966.

While the Globe and Mail ran a picture but no article regarding the November 12, 1966 appearance of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable show in Hamilton, the Star did the opposite. For some reason, Nico's name was spelled ENTIRELY IN CAPS throughout Gail Dexter's review. A sampling:
The films are simple enough--The Underground and Edie [Sedgwick] and NICO and lots of black leather projected on a huge screen to intense rhythmic noise. The action builds to a sado-masochistic climax and then The Underground comes on stage.

The group plays with a persistent heavy beat so loud that the floor of the new gym vibrates, and they play for two hours with lights, films, and optical patterns flashing behind them. Songs like "Heroin" (it's my life and it's my wife) to which Gerard simulates a fix, and "Death Song for Hell's Angels" (shiny, shiny, shiny leather, whiplash girl-child in the dark) through which the dancer flagellates himself.

But NICO is the star. She's tall and blond and beautiful in a remote northern way. She played herself in Fellini's Dolce Vita and now she sings with the Underground; and, in her singing, she projects a tragic awareness that becomes almost painful. Her final number, "If I'm late, will you wait for me?" holds the audience enthralled for a half-hour.

And that was one of the problems: The audience, about 800 students, just sat there stunned for three hours. They were supposed to dance but the gym is so big that only a few couples were sufficiently exhibitionist to try--but they went wild. A one-time McMaster student, Charlotte Kennedy, just ran up on the stage and started dancing with Gerard. He flashed lights on her and cavorted for the cameramen. 

Source: the Toronto Star, June 10, 1967.
The full version of the Star's review of The Velvet Underground and Nico. The record managed to chart, at least in the United States, where it reached #171 on the Billboard Top 200 album list.

Source: the Globe and Mail, November 30, 1973.
The Globe and Mail's review for Reed's second, less-disastrous Massey Hall show of 1973. Berlin was also placed on Martin's list of potential Christmas gifts:
Lou Reed, who characterized the life of New York City's demimonde as a member of the Velvet Underground, has moved to Berlin, where angst is part of the real vocabulary. It's a concept album about a relationship in the city of the bear that ends in the suicide of the lady, Caroline. It's a chilling tale told in school of Andy Warhol simplicity that borders on the banal. But Reed's flat, disinterested vocals lift the story out of melodrama into a horror story of world weariness.
Other albums in that guide? The Rolling Stones's Goat's Head Soup ("The disc was recorded in Jamaica. I think the sun got to them."), John Lennon's Mind Games ("His best album since Imagine"), Ringo Starr's Ringo ("As a singer, Ringo makes a great drummer"), Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ("One of the most beautiful records produced this year"), Linda Ronstadt's Don't Cry Now ("If you give [this album] to a male, he may never get past the front cover photograph"), The Band's Moondog Matinee ("The results are so funky as to be virtually skunky"), and Neil Young's Time Fades Away ("Neil Young writes like a 27-year-old going on 60").

Additional material from the December 8, 1973 edition of the Globe and Mail.

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