Lou Reed Album With Early Demos of Velvet Underground Classics, Unreleased Songs Coming in August

Lou Reed Album With Early Demos of Velvet Underground Classics, Unreleased Songs Coming in August

June 6, 2022

As part of the celebration around the late Lou Reed’s 80 th birthday, an album of his earliest demos — comprising a number of Velvet Underground classics recorded in 1965, along with several songs dating back to his college and teen years — will be released August 26 on Light in the Attic Records in partnership with Reed’s longtime partner Laurie Anderson.

The album, titled “Words & Music, May 1965,” is the inaugural release from the Lou Reed Archive Series, and dovetails with the opening Thursday of an extensive Reed exhibit at the New York Public Library, titled “Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars.” The album includes the earliest known recordings of such classics as “Heroin,” “Pale Blue Eyes,” “Iʼm Waiting for the Man” and several unreleased tracks.

See the full tracklist below; listen to Reed’s 1965 demo of “I’m Waiting for the Man”:

The bulk of the album is comprised of the 1965 tracks, which were recorded with the assistance of Reed’s future bandmate John Cale. Reed mailed the tape to himself as a “poor manʼs copyright,” and remained sealed in its original envelope and unopened for nearly 50 years. It also includes an early version of “Men of Good Fortune” (which Reed would not release until 1973’s “Berlin” in a version with completely different lyrics), as well as several unreleased tracks, including “Buttercup Song,” “Too Late,” “Buzz Buzz Buzz” and a Cale-fronted version of “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,” which Nico recorded for her 1967 debut, “Chelsea Girl.”

The recordings come from a pair of tapes found in Reed’s archive. The first captured several of his earliest recordings, including a 1958 rehearsal with his group the Jades (also known as the Shades), along with some folk-oriented tracks recorded circa 1963-1964, while Reed was attending Syracuse University. Accompanied by his acoustic guitar and harmonica, he covers Bob Dylanʼs “Donʼt Think Twice, Itʼs All Right” plus an instrumental rendition of “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” and “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.” Reed also delves into the blues with the brief “Louʼs 12-Bar Instrumental” and his “W&X,Y,Z Blues.” (The second tape included the 1965 demos.) The earlier recordings will be released physically on October 7.

The album was produced by Anderson, Don Fleming, Jason Stern, the late Hal Willner and Matt Sullivan, features newly-remastered audio from the original tapes by Grammy-nominated engineer, John Baldwin, and liner notes from veteran journalist Greil Marcus. There will also be a podcast around the release hosted by TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe.

“Words & Music, May 1965” will be available on August 26th in a variety of formats, including LP, cassette, 8-track, digital, and CD. The editions include a deluxe 45-RPM double LP version limited to 7,500 copies worldwide, designed by Grammy-winning artist Masaki Koike and featuring a die-cut gatefold jacket. A bonus 7” EP in a different die-cut picture sleeve and manufactured at Third Man Record Pressing includes the only vinyl release of six previously-unreleased bonus tracks providing a never-before-seen glimpse into Reedʼs formative years, including early demos, a cover of Bob Dylanʼs “Donʼt Think Twice, Itʼs All Right,” and a doo-wop serenade recorded in 1958 when the legendary singer-songwriter was just sixteen years old. An accompanying saddle-stitched, die-cut 28-page book features lyrics, archival photos, and liner notes. Also included is an archival reproduction of a rarely-seen letter, written by Reed to his college professor and poet, Delmore Schwartz, circa 1964. The set includes a CD containing the complete audio from the package, housed in a die-cut jacket.

The 11-track digital release of “Words & Music, May 1965” will be available across all platforms, alongside the physical formats, on August 26th. A six-song digital EP, Gee Whiz, 1958-1964, drops on October 7th, offering the above-mentioned bonus content.

Words & Music, May 1965 (CD & Cassette Standard Edition) Tracklist:
1. Iʼm Waiting for the Man (May 1965 Demo)
2. Men of Good Fortune (May 1965 Demo) *
3. Heroin (May 1965 Demo)
4. Too Late (May 1965 Demo)*
5. Buttercup Song (May 1965 Demo)
6. Walk Alone (May 1965 Demo)
7. Buzz Buzz Buzz (May 1965 Demo)
8. Pale Blue Eyes (May 1965 Demo)
9. Stockpile (May 1965 Demo) *
10. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (May 1965 Demo)
11. Iʼm Waiting for the Man (May 1965 Alternate Version)
12. Gee Whiz – (1958 Rehearsal) *
13. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (1963/64 Home Recording)
14. Michael, Row The Boat Ashore (1963/64 Home Recording)
15. Donʼt Think Twice, Itʼs All Right (Partial) (1963/64 Home Recording)
16. W & X, Y, Z Blues (1963/64 Home Recording) *
17. Louʼs 12-Bar Instrumental (1963/64 Home Recording) *

Words & Music, May 1965 (2xLP + 7-inch + CD Deluxe Edition) Tracklist:
-2xLP-
1. Iʼm Waiting for the Man (May 1965 Demo)
2. Men of Good Fortune (May 1965 Demo) *
3. Heroin (May 1965 Demo)
4. Too Late (May 1965 Demo) *
5. Buttercup Song (May 1965 Demo)
6. Walk Alone (May 1965 Demo)
7. Buzz Buzz Buzz (May 1965 Demo)
8. Pale Blue Eyes (May 1965 Demo)
9. Stockpile (May 1965 Demo) *
10. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (May 1965 Demo)
11. Iʼm Waiting for the Man (May 1965 Alternate Version)

– 7-inch –
1. Gee Whiz – (1958 Rehearsal) *
2. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (1963/64 Home Recording)
3. Michael, Row The Boat Ashore (1963/64 Home Recording)
4. Donʼt Think Twice, Itʼs All Right (Partial) (1963/64 Home Recording) 5
. W & X, Y, Z Blues (1963/64 Home Recording) *
6. Louʼs 12-Bar Instrumental (1963/64 Home Recording) *

All tracks previously unreleased; * Previously unreleased composition

 

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