Saturday, August 14, 2010

Today was a Day for "Live MCMXCIII" by the Velvet Underground (1993)

I hadn't listened to Live MCMXCIII, the VU "reunion" 2.5 hour-long double-album from 1993, in a fair bit of time. It is quite the fun listen. Suprisingly so. It isn't where you would want to start with the band, but if you are familiar with the band and at least part of the VU story, it is a compelling listen. The double-CD set is a compilation of songs from a three-night series (mostly the second night) of reunion shows that the VU did at the L'Olympia Theater in Paris on June 15th, 16th, and 17th, 1993. These dates were part of a longer European tour that the reunited Reed, Cale, Tucker, and Morrison did during the summer of 1993.

I think wikipedia has the 1990s VU reunion timeline about right: In 1990, Reed and Cale released Songs for Drella, dedicated to the recently deceased Andy Warhol. (“Drella” was a nickname Warhol had been given, a combination of “Dracula” and “Cinderella”.) Though Morrison and Tucker had each worked with Reed and Cale since the V.U. broke up, Songs for Drella was the first time the pair had worked together in decades, and rumors of a reunion began to circulate, fueled by the one-off appearance by Reed, Cale, Morrison and Tucker to play "Heroin" as the encore to a brief Songs for Drella set in Jouy-en-Josas, France.

The Reed–Cale–Morrison–Tucker lineup officially reunited as "The Velvet Underground" in 1992, commencing activities with a European tour beginning in Edinburgh on June 1, 1993, and featuring a performance at Glastonbury which garnered an NME front cover. Cale sang most of the songs Nico had originally performed. The band's opening act was Luna. As well as headlining, the Velvets performed as supporting act for five dates of U2’s Zoo TV Tour.

Given the success of The Velvet Underground's European reunion tour, a series of US tour dates were proposed, as was an MTV Unplugged broadcast, and possibly even some new studio recordings. However, before any of this could come to fruition, Cale and Reed fell out again, breaking up the band once more.

On August 30, 1995, Sterling Morrison died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

I spent most of 1994 thinking that we were going to get a reasonable U.S. tour by the VU and would have done anything in my power to make it to one of those shows, but it was not to be. I have seen Lou several times, but I am still holding on hope for a Reed/Cale collaboration some time down the road...

The "first set" from Live MCMXCIII jumps across all different VU albums and settles into a nice groove on "All Tomorrow's Parties" and "Some Kind of Love." The "second set" starts with a shot across the bow in the form of "Hey Mr. Rain" and thrashes some more later on the disc on "Black Angel's Death Song" and "Heroin."

Listen for yourself at grooveshark, or find this for yourself online mofos...

disc 1:

disc 2:

P.S. Hey Lou, John, and Mo. How's it going? Not to rush you or anything, but could you maybe put out Vol. 2 of the VU bootleg series? Vol. 1 came out in 2001, and it would be great to have another release. Send me an e-mail and I'll make some suggestions on what should be remastered and released from the VU archives...


  1. Universal gave up on the series even though vol 1 sold very well. fuck UMG!

  2. I remember reading a few years back the rumors of a "Digital Download" series but that seems to have disappeared into the netherworld as well. Would be nice... They also re-released the Vol. 1 Quine tapes release on a 6-vinyl record set this summer.