The Velvet Underground - The Complete Matrix Tapes (Universal Music Enterprises, 2015)
Having seen The Velvet Underground many times, mostly at The Second Fret in Philadelphia. And with that in mind, I’d like to propose that they were one of those bands who’s work always seemed to be not so much in flux, more that it was constantly being reworked, reshaped, and revitalized. And that’s proven true here on The Matrix Tapes, a staggering four disc collection that primarily focuses on two nights at The Matrix [a club opened by The Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin] on November 26th and 27th of 1969 ... captured at both The Matrix and The Family Dog venues on a four track recorder.
This was not the first time The Velvet Underground found themselves in California, a land they disdained, preferring the gritty streets of the east coast. Nevertheless, their first venture into the land of sun and surf was with Andy Warhol’s sojourn back in May of 1966, where it’s been documented that they were received rather poorly, and nearly demolished the home that had been provided for them.
One could spend a lifetime listening to all of these tracks before deciding on which versions are best, and perhaps compiling a personal favorites collection from this presentation. Remember, this was lo-fi at it’s inception, this was when shows were what we called ‘Happenings’, this was where the audience was as involved as the artists, and I’m sure that anyone who was there for even one of the eighteen residency dates still remembers it as if it happened yesterday. "Sister Ray" extends into thirty plus minute mark, with all of the others being jams of music, distortion, and graphic lustful fascination, where the band finds a groove, locks into it, and doesn’t let go.
Yes, nearly all of this material has been released in one fashion or another over the years, with some being much better than others ... though I doubt that there’s much room for improvement here, where the entire package has been digitally remastered and presented as a single unit of astonishment.
Review made by Jenell Kesler/2015
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