The last Velvet Underground Recording Session
On Tuesday 21st July 1970, the Velvets - now one month into their two month residency at Max's, returned to Studio B at Atlantic to finish off 'Loaded' with producers Shel Kagan and Geoff Haslam. There was a releasable album already in the can, but now that they had been working with Moe's temporary replacement, Billy Yule, for a month, they decided to use him to improve on three previously recorded tracks.
The first tune they picked to re-record that day was Head Held High. Two versions had already been taped - one with Doug on drums, and one with session musician Tommy Castanero. The band - with Lou or Sterling (if he was present - see below) on the single guitar, Doug on bass, and Billy on drums recorded the backing track. The first two takes were false starts, the third was incomplete, the fourth was a full run-through. Another false start and an incomplete take followed, before they finished a satisfying version - take 7. It may be that Lou then overdubbed a vocal, or maybe the guide vocal alone was taped. Either way, they never overdubbed anything else onto it. Why? Maybe Billy's drumming was less powerhouse than Tommy's, or maybe Lou's voice was now totally wrecked after a month's solid singing at Max's. Either way, we've not heard this version.
The band swiftly moved on to Lonesome Cowboy Bill, previously cut with Doug on drums. This time they recorded three guitars - lead, rhythm and acoustic - but again it's possible that Sterling isn't present here. Doug 'thinks' Sterling played acoustic, but that's not certain. Again, with the same lineup as Head Held High - but with Doug on vocals - the band recorded four takes of this, each one was complete. The fourth was considered best, and Doug - who had presumably played bass on the take, now overdubbed both piano and a lead vocal, and this was then subjected to two mixes. One made Loaded, and the other emerged on the 45th Anniversary box.
Song three was a remake of Oh! Sweet Nuthin'. Previously cut earlier in the sessions with Lou on vocals (as featured on the 1997 and 45th anniversary boxes), this was now to be cut with Doug singing lead instead. The band - again, possibly including Sterling (who Doug 'believes' plays one of three guitars) - managed a false start, before a full, satisfying version was recorded. Again it has three guitars, bass, piano and a Doug vocal.
And then that was that. One more month at Max's, and then Lou quit.
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