Live at Max’s Kansas City



Ignore the all-encompassing five-CD Peel Slowly and See boxed set and each VU album still seems to eventually be individually reissued with bonus cuts, alternate mixes and various other collector-nerd hard-on generators. Throw another one on the pile.

More than thirty years after being recorded, Live at Max’s is finally legitimately released in its entirety, adding seven songs that were lopped off the original issue and with all tracks restored to the actual running order.

Max’s has a lot going against it. Never mind that Moe Tucker and John Cale — the heart of the VU — are nowhere to be found. Pay no attention to the overeager high schooler Billy Yule filling in on drums. Ignore the fact that it’s recorded on a reporter’s dictating tape recorder for that super-sweet no-fidelity sound.

Shit … it still works.

From the heavy-handed harrumph opening of “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “White Light/White Heat” through the eight-song run on disc two (“Sweet Jane” to “Some Kinda Love”), the only logical reaction is to close the blinds, curl under the covers and just cry yourself to sleep because of the melancholy beauty of Reed’s now-canonical tunes. It’s kinda fitting that the show was Reed’s last with the band until the abominable ’90s reunion gigs. But hey, maybe the Velvets 1993 reunion document Live MCMXCIII will totally kick ass in three decades.

E-mail Ben Blackwell at

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