Jan 042008

Here we go again. “Mikey hates everything,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Shove it. That’s just you being all “Conventional Wisdom” and shit.

My man sammy hipped me to his Mystery Date and I gotta say, this time Conventional Wisdom’s gonna take it in the two-hole.

Those two tracks were from perhaps the most viciously maligned rock album of all times: Squeeze by “The Velvet Underground.”

OK. This is by far the worst VU album, hands down. Fact is though, it is only a VU album in title. There’s a whole backstory about how Steve Selznick is to blame. Essentially Steve said to Doug something like “I’ve got good news and some bad news. Good news is I wanna record YOUR songs. Bad news is, I’m gonna make it a VU album and you’re gonna tour.” Doug did I think what most of us would have done: he jumped at the chance to record his songs.

This album is through and through a Doug Yule solo album. Check out the credits (from AllMusic):

Willie “Loco” Alexander – Guitar
Ian Paice (yes, that Ian Paice) – Drums
Doug Yule – Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals

Doug is the only Velvety one! In fact many reputable sources claim that Willie was not on the album and that, other than drums, it was all Doug including arranging and producing.

True, this deserves derision for being released as a VU album and true, there isn’t a “great” song on the album, but there isn’t an “awful” one either. As a freshman effort by a dude who self-admittedly was just learning songwriting skills, it’s better than most of the tripe I’ve heard on KROQ in the past 20 years.

This is a solidly “decent” album not deserving of its reputation. It has been removed from various VU catalogs and has never been issued digitally as far as I can tell. If it had been released as a Doug Yule album, I’m certain it would have done better, and we might have had a whole ‘notha catalog to dissect here.

Here it is for you.

I would love to have heard how this guy might have progressed as an artist. Based on this album, he had potential. Instead, aside from a couple of tracks with the mid-70s folk rockers American Flyer, Doug didn’t appear to write anything that was released.

He played on Lou’s Sally Can Dance and guested on an Elliott Murphy album. Then he bailed on the music industry and became a carpenter.

Recently he’s done some live stuff that’s been released and some stuff with Mark Gardener (from Ride).

Not only was Doug Yule disserviced by the way this was released, he has been consistently fucked over by critics, historians, and the Lou/John cabal. Here are some Doug Yule factoids:

  • Played on more VU recordings than Cale
  • In addition to back-up vocals, he sang lead on: “Who Loves The Sun”, “New Age”, “Lonesome Cowboy Bill”, as well as “Oh Sweet Nuthin’
  • Played 6 different instruments on Loaded
  • Provided the fill-in drummer (his brother Billy) when Mo had to leave to pump out a youngin’
  • Was the first VU member to appear on a Lou album post-VU
  • Was blocked by Reed and Cale from the ’90s VU reunion even though both Mo and Sterling wanted him there
  • Was excluded from the RRHoF

Let’s all put our cereal spoons down and give thanks to the great Doug Yule.


  20 Responses to “Pop Rocks & Coke: Mystery Date Revealed, or Doug Yule Rules”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    Our band has a song on a compilation album from some Swedish label that’s sequenced near a Doug Yule track.

    I’m afraid to listen to this entire album you’ve provided as a .zip file, but I will. Thanks.

    Does anyone remember: was Willie “Loco” Alexander one of the first “next Lou Reeds” or Boston’s version of the “next Bob Dylan”?

  2. Willie was neither a Lou Reed nor a Bob Dylan: his bag was that he was supposed to be an American Mick Jagger. Which he wasn’t, but there you go.

    You forget: Doug also sang lead on “Candy Says.” Everyone seems to think it’s Lou, but it’s Doug.

  3. 2000 Man

    Great way to start off the year! I got to learn something I did not know and got a nice, juicy fact filled and music filled post on top of it all. Thanks, Mikey and sammy! When I get home I’ll grab that zip file and check out Doug’s work. The production on those two songs sounded very different to me yesterday. Was it recorded in more than one place, with more than one producer?

    I think if I had been Mo or Sterling and I wanted Doug at the HOF, I’d have told Lou if Doug wasn’t there then I wasn’t, either. It’s not like going to a dinner is equal to a big payday. I’m pretty sure it’s all just an ego stroke and that’s it. It sure is easier to be a fan than someone in a band, I’ll tell ya.

  4. saturnismine

    Wish I had gotten in on the listening session before the identity of the songs was revealed. didn’t like ’em all that much.

    But you can spare me the Doug Yule apologist slant.

    I find this comment particularly rankling: “Doug did I think what most of us would have done: he jumped at the chance to record his songs.”

    Not me, Mikey. Not me, or the ilk I’ve played with and admired over the years.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    Well, it took me 44.5 years, but I’ve finally listened to “The Velvet Underground” album Squeeze. As the two Mystery Date tracks promised, this is thoroughly competent and mediocre. Some of the songs have traces of the throwaway “Sweet Blue Sally Sue”-type songs The Velvet Underground would do in their Yule years, but Yule comes off completely lacking in sleaze. He should be joining me at Thanksgiving dinner, not leading anything remotely related to the VU. It really makes me appreciate Lou Reed’s quirks even more on those goofy, set-stretching numbers.

    It would be interesting to package this as some new band’s release and see how it’s received. “Louise”, for instance, wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dr. Dog album. It’s by no means terrible. The playing is pretty good throughout, and you can hear why Yule would have been a good sideman for hire. As a songwriter/bandleader, however, he defines the term Journeyman Rocker.

  6. sammymaudlin

    2K- All that I could find is that it was recorded in the Fall of ’72 in a London recording studio. It was release by Polydor UK in the UK, France, Germany and Spain (1974).

  7. BigSteve

    Listening to the whole thing on my good speakers raised my opinion some. The ability to create an acceptable sounding album basically all by yourself (with some help from a drummer) is a talent not to be sniffed at. Yule’s problem was that he had absolutely nothing to say as a songwriter.

    He seems to know the nuts and bolts of song arrangement, and he’d have been a good song-doctor, helping someone with some inspiration to get his materials into shape. But he’s plainly lost on his own, resorting to writing about ‘street life’ in a way that makes it seem less exciting than straight life.

    It is weird listening to this to feel that voice occasionally triggering a certain Velvetish synapse whether you want it to or not.

  8. nice use of “ilk” Saturn. Never heard it used on one’s self before.

  9. saturnismine

    “ilk”? did i say “ilk”?

    (scrolling up to check…)

    whaddya know? i did!

    man…that must’ve been some good Peruvian Flake that Plurbis laid on me…

    yesterday’s a blur…a haze.

  10. Cale doesn’t deserve any blame for Yule’s non-inclusion in the VU reunion. That was all Lou. Cale wanted Yule to play bass so he could just play keyboards and viola.

  11. sammymaudlin

    Hey scottrodgers. That was what I read except that it was Sterling:

    However, Reed and Cale blocked him from the Velvet Underground reunion in the early 1990s despite Morrison’s wish that he be included (so that Morrison would not have to switch to bass when Cale played viola or keyboards).

    That’s from the Wikipedia, so not so reliable but…

  12. A band toured as The Velvet Underground in support of this record if I am not mistaken. I am just curious as to what they sounded like and who all was in the touring version. I think one of the guys who later would be in The Bongos was part of that line-up.

  13. sammymaudlin

    Welcome to the Hall petesecrutz. According to the Wikipedia which cites Doug Yule’s liner notes on the live album mentioned:

    Yule assembled a backing band consisting of Rob Norris (guitar), George Kay (bass guitar) and Mark Nauseef (drums) to tour the United Kingdom in November and December 1972 to promote the upcoming album; a live recording from this tour is included on the 2001 live box set Final V.U. 1971-1973. After the tour, during which they were deserted by Sesnick, Yule also called it quits, bringing the Velvet Underground to an end.

  14. Thanks for the info. Rob Norris was in the Bongos, so my monkey brain didn’t fail me.

  15. Mr. Moderator

    Yes, Rob Norris’ “VU” cred was always a cool thing. Welcome aboard, petescrutz. You certainly know your stuff.

  16. Mr. Moderator

    HVB, hater of hippies and the VU, before this slips off The Main Stage, what are your thoughts on this version of the VU? Any better than their first 4 studio albums?

  17. Also before this leaves the Main Stage, I wanted to make the following suggestion: I’m all for giving Doug Yule props (for the vocal on “Candy Says” alone), however after listening to John Cale’s Vintage Violence yesterday, it occurred to me that had Cale stayed in the band, the sound of the last two albums probably wouldn’t have changed all that significantly.

  18. Mr. Moderator

    Interesting point, Oats. Some of those leftover tracks that were released as VU and Another VU seem to verify what you say.

    You’ve got to wonder, had Cale stayed in the band, if Lou Reed’s music would have sounded exactly as he’d heard it in his head.

  19. hrrundivbakshi

    Good grief, but this is depressing. It’s like you’re asking me if I prefer to eat shit with peanuts or corn niblets in it. I listened up through track eight, then gave up. The “real” Velvets were awful, but at least they were anarchic about it. (DON’T mistake that for praise.) This crap is awful *and* boring. So it’s a bit more tuneful. BFD! Mod, have I really done such a bad job of explaining what I like about music that you might think, for even a second, that this would appeal to me? No sir!

    In summary: pee-you.


  20. Mr. Moderator

    HVB, my question was asked in jest, but I truly appreciate your answering it in the honest fashion you have chosen to answer it. I’ve been getting what you’ve been saying about the real VU for sometime. Thanks for the excellent laugh.

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