VU (album)

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Compilation album by
ReleasedFebruary 1985 (1985-02)
Recorded1968–69, New York City
ProducerThe Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground chronology
1969: The Velvet Underground Live
Another View
Singles from VU
  1. "Foggy Notion / I Can't Stand It"
    Released: 1984

VU is a 1985 album by the American musical group the Velvet Underground, a compilation album of outtakes recorded 1968-69. It was released in February 1985 by Verve Records.

Composition and collection[edit]

When the Velvet Underground moved from Verve Records (which had released their first two albums) to parent company MGM Records, they signed a two-album deal, releasing their third album The Velvet Underground in March 1969. Later that same year there was a management change and MGM Records' new CEO, Mike Curb, was brought in to try to rescue the financially struggling label. He decided to purge the record company of its unprofitable acts. The Velvet Underground quickly became one of the groups targeted and were released from their contract. The band had in the meantime recorded 14 tracks for possible release as their second MGM album. All of these were shelved and forgotten by their record company until the early 1980s.

Mo Tucker later said, "We didn’t say we'll just go in and lay down anything and screw 'em. There was a sense that it probably wouldn't be released by them. I think I figured it would just get picked up by the next record company, not realizing that MGM would own it. But when we switched labels, MGM wouldn't give up the tapes."[1]

As Verve (by then an imprint of Polygram) prepared to re-release the band's three Verve/MGM albums on vinyl and CD, they found nineteen previously unreleased tracks: five Cale-era tracks and the 14 "lost album" tracks, some of them in two-track mixdown format, some of them even on multitracks. The cream of the nineteen tracks was released in 1985 as VU; the rest was released as Another View in 1986.

VU is a selection from the 1969 tracks as well as two previously unreleased Cale-era songs—"Temptation Inside Your Heart" and "Stephanie Says". Since most of the material was available on multitrack (only "Ocean" is included in its original 1969 mix), engineers were able to clean up and remix the tracks.

As the Velvet Underground moved from MGM to Atlantic, they re-recorded two of the songs on VU, "Ocean" and "I'm Sticking with You", for possible inclusion on Loaded. Neither made the cut, but six of the VU songs were recycled by Lou Reed during his solo career: "I Can't Stand It", "Lisa Says" and "Ocean" on Lou Reed, 1972; "Andy's Chest" on Transformer, 1972; "Stephanie Says" (as "Caroline Says II") on Berlin, 1973; and "She's My Best Friend" (which was originally sung by Doug Yule),[2] was included on Coney Island Baby, 1976.

VU peaked in the US at #85, the band's best placing.[3] As of October 2013 it had sold 90,000 copies according to Nielsen Soundscan.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideA[6]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[7]
Rolling Stone[8]

VU was ranked number 3 among the "Albums of the Year" for 1985 by NME.[9] Village Voice rock critic Robert Christgau wrote, "It's goofy, relaxed, simultaneously conversational and obscure, an effect accentuated by the unfinished feel of takes the band never prepared for public consumption. As a result, especially given PolyGram's state-of-the-art remix, it's their most listenable record."[6]

Mick Farren of Spin wrote of the recordings, "As a piece of rock archeology, they are clearly invaluable, filling a crucial gap in the Velvet Underground canon. As a piece of entertainment — even a period piece — they provoke the feeling that, if it had been released in sequence, the album probably would have been greeted as an almost unqualified dog."[1]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Lou Reed except where noted.

Side one
No.TitleRecording dateLength
1."I Can't Stand It"May 20, 19693:21
2."Stephanie Says"February 13, 19682:49
3."She's My Best Friend"May 14, 19692:47
4."Lisa Says"October 1, 19692:53
5."Ocean"June 19, 19695:10
Total length:17:00
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Recording dateLength
1."Foggy Notion*"Reed, Sterling Morrison, Doug Yule, Maureen Tucker, Hy WeissMay 6, 19696:41
2."Temptation Inside Your Heart" February 14, 19682:30
3."One of These Days" September 23, 19693:50
4."Andy's Chest" May 13, 19692:49
5."I'm Sticking with You" May 13, 19692:26
Total length:18:16

*The CD issue of VU omits the first few seconds of "Foggy Notion", which includes a practice guitar lick and the band members talking.

  • All tracks appear on the box set Peel Slowly and See, except "She's My Best Friend", "Ocean" and "Andy's Chest". "Ocean" on Peel Slowly and See is a later version, recorded during the Loaded sessions April – June 1970.


The Velvet Underground
Technical staff


VU is The Velvet Underground's highest charting album in the US, peaking at number 85 in the US Billboard charts on April 13, 1985. It remained in the Charts for 13 weeks.[3]


  1. ^ a b Mick Farren (May 1985). "Spins". Spin. No. 1. p. 28.
  2. ^ Heylin, Clinton (1992). The Penguin Book of Rock & Roll Writing. Viking. p. 586. ISBN 9780670845590.
  3. ^ a b "The Velvet Underground". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  4. ^ Gensler, Andy (October 28, 2013). "Lou Reed RIP: What If Everyone Who Bought The First Velvet Underground Album Did Start A Band?". Billboard.
  5. ^ VU at AllMusic
  6. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1990). "V". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved November 21, 2021 – via
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  8. ^ Fricke, David (March 14, 1985). "The Velvet Underground: VU". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 28, 2007.
  9. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2018. Retrieved August 30, 2018.