Sweet Sister Ray

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Kill Mick
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Sweet Sister Ray

Post by Kill Mick » 17 Jun 2004 13:01

Apologies if this has been discussed here before, but am I right in thinking that the track listed as 'Sweet Sister Ray' (from La Cave April 68) on bootlegs is actually 'Sweet Rock and Roll' aka 'Sister Ray, Part 2' (listed in the Lost Songs section of Oliviers website)?

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Post by Kill Mick » 17 Jun 2004 13:02

Don't know where the hell that smiley came from!! It's meant to say 68!
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Post by alfredovu » 17 Jun 2004 14:22

I´M WITH YOU.
QUOTING LESTER BANGS MEMORIES ABOUT "SISTER RAY PART 2" LYRICS PERFORMED JULY 68 AT THE HIPPODROME SAN DIEGO WENT:

"Sweet Sister Ray went to a movie / The floor was painted red and the walls were greeb / 'Ooohh,' she cried / 'This is the strangest movie I've ever seen...'".

THIS PRETTY MUCH MATCH THE ACTUAL LYRICS OF "SWEET SISTER RAY" LA CAVE APRIL 68:

"Sweet Sister Ray went where a movie was goin' around
It was the biggest movie that had ever come to town
Why this is the biggest movie
I ever seen in my whole day
I've never seen a stranger sketch anyway"

CONSIDERING THAT THIS WAS AN ALMOST IMPROVISED SONG, SEEMS THAT LYRICS WENT ALWAYS IN A SIMILAR DIRECTION.

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Post by Ghost Millionaires » 21 Jun 2004 04:40

It is not sweet rock and roll. sterling morrison said they played the song a couple of times after the first time, and it was never as good as the original. sweet sister ray must be one of the lesser versions.
I had a dream where I bought a v-5008 with full banana for 5 dollars...

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Post by alfredovu » 21 Jun 2004 10:33

Ghost Millionaires wrote:It is not sweet rock and roll.
CONTINUING THE ABOVE QUOTE ABOUT "SISTER RAY PART TWO" LYRICS :
But it was the chorus that was the most moving: "Ohhhh, sweet rock and roll - it'll cleanse your soul..."

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Post by Kill Mick » 21 Jun 2004 14:55

Having listened to it a few times, 'Sweet Sister Ray' (i.e. the La Cave April '68 version) doesn't seem to include the "sweet rock and roll" line, but I still think it is the same song. The description of the music and the fact that it leads into 'Sister Ray' is too similair for it to be a different song in my opinion.

Also, Sterling said they never played it again AFTER the July '68 gig (although he then says they might have played it a few times after that). The La Cave version is BEFORE then.

I think that basically what happened is that they started playing what Lou introduced as 'Sister Ray, Part 2' in spring 68, the La Cave 'Sweet Sister Ray' version being an early example. By July 68 Lou had come up with the "sweet rock and roll" line and it subsequently became known as 'Sweet Rock and Roll'. Musically I'm convinced they're the same song, however.

Maybe both versions should simply be called 'Sister Ray, Part2'?
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Post by simonm » 21 Jun 2004 16:03

Lester Bangs refers to a big chorus and talks about Sweet Rock n Roll being a high energy rock n roll number, does he not? Sweet Sister Ray has no chorus or and is a laid back improv. The basic problem is that there is no known recording of Sweet Rock n Roll, and never will be. All we really know is that it has some of the same words as Sweet Sister Ray. Referring to them both as S R part 2 will just confuse things even more, especially as they preceded Sister Ray! I'm a big fan of Lester Bangs but his writing was never strong on facts. If Olivier thinks it's a diff song, I value his opinion over Bangs'.

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Post by Kill Mick » 21 Jun 2004 16:52

Simonm, with all due respect that's not quite correct. According to the quote on Olivier's page, Lester Bangs wrote "...the Velvets launched into a new song that was one of the most incredible musical experiences of my concert carreer. Lou announced it as Sister Ray, Part Two, but it sounded nothing like the previous song. It was built on the most dolorous riff imaginable, just a few scales rising and falling mournfully, somewhat like Venus In Furs but less creaky, more deliberate and eloquent."

I'm sorry, but to me that sounds EXACTLY like he's describing 'Sweet Sister Ray'. And there IS a recording of 'Sweet Rock and Roll' - on the tape that Sterling refers to when talking about the song - but you're right in saying we'll probably never get to hear it!
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Post by Mark » 21 Jun 2004 16:54

simonm wrote:Lester Bangs refers to a big chorus and talks about Sweet Rock n Roll being a high energy rock n roll number, does he not?
Not really. See below. In particular note the parts in bold, which do seem to accurately describe Sweet Sister Ray.
Oliver's site wrote: Lester Bangs reviewing a July 1968 show at The Hippodrome in San Diego CA wrote: (...) That was a quite night, though. In a way it was the ultimate Velvet Underground concert. The audience was terrible; those that weren't downright hostile kept interrupting the announcements between songs to yell out what they wanted to hear, like "How about Heroin!" and even "Play Searchin' For My Mainline!" But right in the middle of all these bad vibes, the Velvets launched into a new song that was one of the most incredible musical experiences of my concert carreer. Lou announced it as Sister Ray, Part Two, but it sounded nothing like the previous song. It was built on the most dolorous riff imaginable, just a few scales rising and falling mournfully, somewhat like Venus In Furs but less creaky, more deliberate and eloquent. The lyrics, many of which Lou made up as he went along, seemed like fantasy from an urban inferno:

Sweet Sister Ray went to a movie
The floor was painted red and the walls were greeb
"Ooohh," she cried
"This is the strangest movie I've ever seen...".

But it was the chorus that was the most moving:


"Ohhhh, sweet rock and roll - it'll cleanse your soul..."
That's classic, and no other group in America could have (or would have) written and sung those words. (...)

Sterling Morrison: "We also did a four track tape when we played with Quicksilver. Wedid the show and then went to a party, and Lou and I and John Cipollina were sitting on this couch. I'm sitting there and I heard Quicksilver - that had played first - and it was fabulous. So then I hear us tuning up and I said to Lou: Well I think I'm getting out of here! I didn't want us sounding terrible compared to Quicksilver, and I figured we had to sound terrible compared to them, because I'd just heard how great they had sounded. Cipollina is a real good guitar player. After tuning, we started with Waiting For The Man and it didn't sound so bad, so I stuck around. Then came Sweet Rock and Roll, which was never recorded and never played again. We wanted that tape, it sounded so great, so there was no point in recording it. I think we did it a time or two after that, but it was nothing compared to this first one. I remember the chords and some words: "Sweet rock 'n' roll is good to your soul...". We used that as a preamble to Sister Ray, it kind of just goes along and then hits the chords, which were very heavy. It was good. It was heavy, serious. Cale played keyboard on "Sweet Rock and Roll," and that was really what carried it. Good keyboards."

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Post by simonm » 22 Jun 2004 10:04

Whoops - I was totally wrong! Sorry. In the LB review it sounds like Part 2 follows SR proper, which makes sense. Knowing how much SR varied from one show to the next, and that SSR/SR pt2 is an even looser proposition, I was kind of saying that what Bangs heard in July could have been a world away from the April tape -I don't think it makes sense to say they were the same song if they were two inprovisations performed months apart.

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