Sweet Sister Ray

For discussion of all aspects of the New York legends.
Tad Shy
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Post by Tad Shy » 22 Jun 2004 14:18

A Cale era recording on four track. Now THAT would be something indeed!

Sterling Morrison: "We also did a four track tape when we played with Quicksilver. . . . 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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Kill Mick
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Post by Kill Mick » 22 Jun 2004 15:31

Simonm, what makes you say that 'Sister Ray, Part 2' was played after 'Sister Ray' rather than before it?

Also, I'm not convinced that 'Sweet Sister Ray' and/or 'Sweet Rock and Roll' were improvisations. To me it's more likely that they were basically the same song musically, with Lou maybe improvising or ad libing the lyrics slightly differently each time they were played. I still say that in the review of the July performance LB gives a pretty accurate description of the April version, close enough for them to essentially be the same song.

I'm also now wondering where the title of 'Sweet Sister Ray' came from. Was it actually introduced as that, or was it just a name the booleggers came up with (based on the first line of the song?) when it was released on the Sweet Sister Ray LP? The only thing we know for sure is that Lou introduced the track as 'Sister Ray, Part Two' in July 68. It was years later that Sterling referred to it as 'Sweet Rock and Roll'.
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cuckoo
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Post by cuckoo » 23 Jun 2004 20:00

What about the Sister Ray that follows SSR. We get the first few bars and then it fades out. Did the tape-recorder run out?(unlikely, as it did fade out). OL's web site also hints somewhere that Klimek had some other unreleased '68 stuff - does anybody know anything about him?
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simonm
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Post by simonm » 24 Jun 2004 00:42

SR Part 2 following SR - sounds like Bangs is saying this in his review "Lou announced it as Sister Ray, Part Two, but it sounded nothing like the previous song." Doesn't that make sense? How could part 2 of a song come before it? I listened to SSR tonight, there's no spoken intro, but to me it doesn't sound anything like Venus In Furs or the song Sterl is talking about. There must be about 5 minutes of singing in the whole of SSR, that hardly makes it a 'song' at all. Lou played around with lyrics a lot, my take on SSR is its a one-off jam based around a single riff (close to the 1966 EPI improvs like Chic Mystique) and some lyrics which later turned up in Sweet Rock n Roll, but I don't see any point in discussing it further, as we just don't know.

I tried getting in touch with Jamie Klimek a while back, after the Mirrors CD came out. Michael Weldon was the drummer of the band and he went on to found the mag Psychotronic Video so is easily contactable. He said Klimek doesn't have email but told me he doesn't want any contact with VU people as he feels ripped off by the people that put out the Sweet Sis Ray 2LP and Live 68, and that he didn't get a penny from either release. On the sleevenotes to Live 68 he says he taped the band several times on their visits to Cleveland in 67-8, but if he has the tapes, he's a bitter man.

Kill Mick
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Post by Kill Mick » 24 Jun 2004 13:03

I always interpreted 'Sister Ray, Part Two' as meaning the song was written, as opposed to performed, after 'Sister Ray'. The "previous song" comment from Bangs could be interpreted this way as well. Also, Cale kind of hints that they used to play 'Sister Ray, Part Three' before Sister Ray (but let's not even get started on that!)

But you're right, at the moment there just isn't enough information to know for sure. Still, I for one have enjoyed the debate.
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MartinVU
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Re: Sweet Sister Ray

Post by MartinVU » 13 Nov 2023 15:24

Has anybody else heard Mirrors playing Sweet sister ray in the early seventies?

I know this is an old thread but I came across something relevant (or at least peculiar!) to the discussion about SSR and SRR being the same song or not.

In Those Were Different Times - A Memoir Of Cleveland Life: 1967-1973 (Part One) by Charlotte Pressler https://realscatrecords.com/archive/cha ... rent-times Klimek mentions that in the early seventies his band were mostly "smoking a lot of dope and playing a lot of 'Sweet Sister Rays.'"

I got curious and after some searching (for my mainline..) on Soulseek I downloaded a folder called "Mirrors - 1972-1975". My jaw quickly dropped when I noticed that it not only included a track called Sweet sister ray, but also one called Sweet rock and roll. It turned out this was not a cover version of the Holy Grail, but just another version of Sweet sister ray. Both versions have the same lyrics as the SSR we know and love, but both have the line "sweet rock and roll" sung several times before the rest of the lyrics start. It works quite well. When Mirrors played SSR in 2014 they did not include the line btw.

At first I was pretty flabbergasted by how this could have happened, but then I realized that Lester Bangs wrote his article in 72 so Klimek (or someone else in Mirrors) probably read it, and like most people here, thought it sounded like SSR, so they decided to add "Sweet rock and roll" (but not "will cleanse your soul") to their version.

The only other option I can come up with is if Klimek have a different recording of the same song were Lou did sing "sweet rock and roll" at the beginning. I think the April dates were the last time they played in Cleveland with Cale, but I guess they could have done SSR more times than one on the April-engagement. Seems unlikely though.

But would love it if anyone knows anything more about this!

(If anyone wants to hear this and can't find the folder mentioned let me know and I'll try to upload it here. There are also some lo-fi versions of The Story of my life and Here she comes now)

Elvis Plebsley
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Re: Sweet Sister Ray

Post by Elvis Plebsley » 14 Nov 2023 15:23

Thanks for that, MartinVU. I've downloaded that Mirrors file. The note below from Olivier's site for the October 68 La Cave shows, suggests that Klimek has another 15 minute SSR. If it does indeed exist, perhaps Lou sings Sweet Rock and Roll on that one:

"These shows were... "recorded on a mono Norelco cassette recorder using a hand held mike and a Norelco C-120 cassette".... Klimek taped every single Cleveland Velvets show from the Plastic Exploding Inevitable on out but most of those tapes unfortunately haven't surfaced. People who had chance to hear them all say that there is still some excellent stuff that hasn't surfaced, like the long, winding Sweet Sister Ray intro to Sister Ray that goes on for some 15 minutes of trippy, dreamy VU, and a superb Waitin' For My Man with Cale."

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Mark
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Re: Sweet Sister Ray

Post by Mark » 15 Nov 2023 08:29

That we're still wondering about what's on the rest of the Klimek tapes after all these years kills me. Someone needs to talk seriously to the guy and find out what needs to be done to get this stuff heard and preserved before it's too late. It's been 55 years now, and all indicators seem to be that he has hours of incredible stuff that's just rotting away. And who benefits?
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MartinVU
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Re: Sweet Sister Ray

Post by MartinVU » 15 Nov 2023 13:22

You're not alone! If it's about money I wish he would just name his price and we could possibly do a crowdfounding campaign.
To comfort myself I like to pretend he used his best stuff on SSR and Live '68 but I'm not convinced. Maybe it's actually the other way around.
It's also a shame Unterberger or someone else hasn't gotten the chance to do an interview with him.

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lurid
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Re: Sweet Sister Ray

Post by lurid » 17 Nov 2023 11:57

Janie Klimek's brother is on Twitter/X, and posted in response to a question from me that "everything was already available" on bootlegs. I suggested to him that it wasn't, and asked after his brother. He never responded....

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