By Clinton Heylin
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Extra resources for From the Velvets to the Voidoids: The Birth of American Punk Rock
All the Needles are on Red! 17 Yet Nico's importance in the early Velvets' set-up should not be underestimated. Her winter-day voice and icy beauty did add an extra dimension. Cale was certainly impressed by her singing, going on to produce her first four solo albums. The first Nico solo album, Chelsea Girl, recorded between the first two Velvets albums, could easily have been an alternative Velvet Underground and Nico. With Cale producing, Reed, Cale and Morrison providing musical accompaniment, and five songs written by Cale and/or Reed, Chelsea Girl is Nico and The Velvet Underground.
John Cale: This shoe salesman, Norman Dolph, put up the money, and he got a deal at Cameo-Parkway Studios, on Broadway. We went in there, and the floorboards were torn up, the walls were out, there were four mikes working. We set up the drums where there was enough floor, turned it all up and went from there. If conditions were anything but ideal, the quality of the results says a lot for the Velvets' determination to compensate for primitive facilities, and for the engineer's ability to get the best from very basic equipment.
Lou Reed: I hated playing Max's. Because I couldn't do the songs I wanted to do and I was under a lot of pressure to do things I didn't want to do ... I was giving out interviews at the time saying yes, I wanted the group to be a dance band, I wanted to do that, but there was a large part of me that wanted to do something else. I was talking as if I were programmed ... I didn't belong there. I didn't want to be a mass pop national hit group with followers. If the Max's concerts were viewed by New York fans as something of a homecoming, the spirit of America's rock & roll underground was passing beyond the five boroughs.