The Warhol discovers Rare Velvet Underground master tapes
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The Warhol discovers Rare Velvet Underground master tapes
Master Tapes for The Velvet Underground at Scepter Studios, 1966, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

PITTSBURGH, PA.- The Andy Warhol Museum announces the discovery and digitization of the rare master tapes of the Velvet Underground’s debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967, Verve Records). Recently identified while processing Andy Warhol’s archive at The Warhol, the nine initial tracks recorded by the band were the bedrock of the album that became one of my most jarring and influential albums in rock music. The monophonic reel-to-reel ¼” tapes feature alternate versions and mixes of songs later issued on the 1967 release.

“You’re hearing the album as the band originally intended,” said Matt Gray, manager of archives at The Warhol. “The track listing alone is a retelling of the album; the quality of sound is remarkable; it gives you a new perspective.”

The Velvet Underground’s relationship with Andy Warhol began in late 1965 and evolved into the band’s incorporation in his multi-sensory productions, Andy Warhol, Up-Tight and Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Stepping into his role as producer, Warhol also secured studio time to record their first album at Scepter Studios in New York City. In April 1966, the Velvet Underground recorded their songs unsigned to a record label and without executive oversight which allowed them greater creative freedom. As Warhol encouraged the band to stay true to their sound, the battered studio provided the home to the Velvet Underground’s first professional recording session. Although an acetate version, which was made from these master tapes, was released for the 45th anniversary of the album, it is of a different sonic quality, given the generation loss inherent in an analog copy.

The Velvet Underground signed on with MGM/Verve Records on May 2, 1966. After some re-mixing and re-recording of the nine tracks from the Scepter master tapes The Velvet Underground & Nico was released in March 1967, with Warhol’s iconic peelable banana on the cover. The original master tapes were given to Warhol after the album’s creation and have remained unheard since that time.

The recording will premiere as part of an upcoming exhibition at The Warhol in 2023.

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