Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Beau Brummels vs. The Velvet Underground

This is a case for the possible influence of The Beau Brummels on The Velvet Underground and a case for Yahoo Music subscriptions as well, for they allow me to lazily flit from flower to musical flower, belly fat with nectar without having to take all this back to the hive. I wonder how the artists make money from it, but that is greater question that will not be solved here, but for me it's worth every penny. Should you be wondering if this is a paid advertisement for Yahoo! Music, it is not. Not Y!et, anyway.

For instance, I will likely never listen to The Beau Brummels' 1966 ambitious folk-rock masterpiece Triangle ever again, nor can I really explain how I ended up listening to it – it all started with The Seeds, but right now it is revelatory and beautiful. In it I can hear the seeds of many things: Neil Diamond sweaty Brill Building-on-moonshine swagger, Incredible String Band's short-attention span cosmic showcase, and strangely, the first Velvet Underground album recorded the year this was released. The opening motif title track bears a not a little resemblance to the groove of "All Tomorrow Parties" as does that of BB's "Painter of Women" point to the whole of "Venus in Furs." Not to mention Lou Reed's nasal drone is similar to Sal Valentino's, except that Sal has a markedly superior mastery of his instrument.

Don't get me wrong, The Velvet Underground and Nico is the winner of this battle royale, as it is against almost any album I can think of. Triangle is carefully groomed and the blows markedly softened (like on Loaded) and VU&N still sounds feral and wounded and rich as a drunken sunset. More astute VU-scholarship on my part would probably reveal that this ground has already been meticulously combed over, and it's ludicrous to think that VU hatched fully formed as a Zarathustra band nursed only on street drugs and sunglasses in the foil womb of The Factory. I'm just saying the resemblance is pretty strong here, and being able to, at a whim, compare the two without needing the actual records on hand is pretty sweet.

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