The Velvet Underground: Unloaded (1969-1970)

Cover photograph by Henry Chalfant.

This is my late entry into the “lost fourth album” competition. VU completed its eponymous third album at the end of 1968, and then, in 1970, released a very strange final (actual fourth) album, “Loaded.” 

In between these documents, the Velvet Underground were peaking live and writing and recording new songs for two different labels. But the closing of the fourth album gate was deferred and deferred, until Lou Reed had actually quit the band, and the final batch of released songs only slightly represented what had transpired since December 1968. 

So, this is the space-of-an-album that I wanted to fill:

  • Ignore the MGM/Atlantic label divide that has segregated releases of archival VU recordings from this period. Follow the continuous trail of the art.
  • Demonstrate that this was a staggering year in Lou Reed’s songwriting and singing history. A “Blonde on Blonde” year. And these are only 20 of the songs he wrote in this period.
  • Avoid the sudden, new moves presented on the released “Loaded,” and instead extend the vibe of the third album/1969 VU as far as possible. “Loaded” leans forward into the 1970s and a different VU that never happened; this leans backwards into one that did.
  • Capture the 1969 VU groove as far as possible. Quiet or loud, live or in the studio, they were a magical combo that only lasted a little while. Even the absence of Mo Tucker from most of the Atlantic sessions didn’t prevent Reed/Morrison/Yule from sustaining the 1969 band’s shimmery chug, much of the time. Amazing, definitive versions abound. 

This fake double album includes 20 songs, including three straight from “Loaded” and three live ones from “The Complete Matrix Tapes.” The other 14 are studio outtakes, demos, and alternate versions drawn from various vault releases. 

It’s a portrait of a band at its peak, happy to be here with you, appreciative of your ears – intimate, generous, unhurried. Do you want two short sets, or one long one? Anyone have a curfew? 

82-minute mp3 pseudo-album here

Side One:

  • Sweet Jane (live at the Matrix)
  • Sad Song (Atlantic demo)
  • Rock & Roll (Atlantic demo)
  • I Can’t Stand It (MGM, 2014 mix)
  • Foggy Notion (MGM, 1969 mix)

Side Two:

  • Andy’s Chest (MGM, 1969 mix)
  • Cool It Down (Atlantic, Loaded version)
  • Coney Island Steeplechase (MGM, 2014 mix)
  • Satellite of Love (Atlantic demo)
  • Countess from Hong Kong (late 1969, demo)
  • I’m Gonna Move Right In (MGM, 1969 mix)

Side Three:

  • Over You (live at the Matrix)
  • Lisa Says (live at the Matrix)
  • I’m Sticking with You (Atlantic version)
  • Walk & Talk (Atlantic demo)
  • Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ (Atlantic, Loaded version)

Side Four:

  • Ocean (Atlantic outtake)
  • New Age (Atlantic, Loaded version, full-length)
  • I Love You (Atlantic demo)
  • I Found a Reason (Atlantic demo)


9 responses
Thank you for this. Can't wait to listen. I just finished the new Lou Reed bio and this is just what I need!
Thank you! This is terrific, with every peak followed by another. Anyone able to listen to this without joining the cult is truly beyond any help.
Bill, thank you very much for this compliment! "Every peak followed by another" was definitely my goal. If I ever meet someone who's never heard VU, I'll start them with this.
Hi John, FWIW I'm in the process of using it to subvert my offspring's musical sensibilities. It's so good that, in a no-worlds-left-to-conquer sense, I feel an odd combination of emotions about listening to it. It's not like I'm going to stop, but maybe it's just too much; anything this good can't possibly be real or good for me, can it?
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