Squeeze:The Velvet Underground
Squeeze is the fifth and final studio album released under the Velvet Underground name. While labeled as a Velvet Underground record, it actually features none of the original members, having been written and recorded almost entirely by multi-instrumentalist Doug Yule. Yule had joined the Velvet Underground prior to recording their self-titled third album, replacing founding member John Cale, and had contributed significantly to the fourth album, Loaded. Following the departures of the remaining founding members, Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison, Yule took control of the band. Longtime drummer Maureen Tucker was slated to appear on Squeeze by Yule, but she was dismissed by the band's manager, Steve Sesnick.
Following a promotional tour for the album by Yule and a backing band, Yule called it quits, bringing the Velvet Underground to an end. Squeeze failed to chart and quickly fell into obscurity after its release. Critics generally dismiss the record as "a Velvet Underground album in name only".[page needed]
In 1971, the Velvet Underground consisted of Doug Yule (vocals, guitar), Willie Alexander (keyboards, vocals), Walter Powers (bass guitar) and Maureen Tucker (drums). This version of the band had toured the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in October and November 1971 to support its latest album,Loaded, which had been written and recorded when Lou Reed was in the band, and which had seen a European release in March 1971. The plan was to record a second and final album for their record company, Atlantic Records, afterwards, but Atlantic lost faith and decided to issue an archive recording from 1970 featuring Lou Reed, Live at Max's Kansas City, instead.
After the tour, band manager Steve Sesnick managed to get a recording deal with Polydor UK to record a final Velvet Underground album. Alexander, Powers and Tucker were sent back to the United States by Sesnick, however, presumably for him to retain maximum control over the finished product. Thus, althoughSqueeze was released nominally as a Velvet Underground album, Yule was the only Velvet to actually perform on it. Yule later said, "I don’t think Moe [Tucker] would have been expensive in money, but too costly in terms of 'management', meaning that she didn’t take a lot of bullshit and would have taken a lot of 'handling' on Sesnick's part." Yule also recalled that the album "was done with just me. All the basic tracks were laid down with drums and me. Ian Paice ofDeep Purple played the drums. So he and I would lay down a track. How much interplay can you have when all it is is one guitar or a piano? You can hear that, it's kind of dead. I think you get more when you have 3 or 4 people playing together, they feed off each other, they work together and something comes out of it, it's bigger."
The eleven songs that make up Squeeze were written by Yule and recorded with the help of Ian Paice, with additional occasional saxophone and backing singer assistance. They range from Beatles-like whimsy ("Crash") via pop to typical 1970s rock ("Mean Old Man"). Yule later recalled, "I remember sitting on a plane writing extensive notes on the mixing of the album. I sent it to Steve and none of my suggestions were taken, I'm sure he didn't even read it. He mixed it for the best possible commercial success. (...) It's really embarrassing. I gave what I had at the time. There are parts of it I hate and parts I don't. But if I had to do it over again, it would be a completely different album, with different people and have nothing to do with Sesnick."
Squeeze was recorded in the autumn of 1972 and released in the United Kingdom, France, Germany (all 1973), Spain (1974), and Japan (year unknown). No singles were taken off it and the album did not chart. Yule assembled a backing band consisting of Rob Norris (guitar), George Kay (bass guitar) and Mark Nauseef (drums) to tour the United Kingdom in November and December 1972 to promote the upcoming album; a live recording from this tour is included on the 2001 live box set Final V.U. 1971-1973. After the tour, during which they were deserted by Sesnick, Yule also called it quits, bringing the Velvet Underground to an end.
Squeeze saw a number of re-issues in France during the 1970s and early 1980s. It was out of print since, until it received a compact disc and new LP release in 2012 by Kismet Records (see below). The status of Squeeze in the Velvet Underground's recorded canon is generally regarded as dubious. In the early 1970s, the NME Book of Rock counted it as "a Velvet Underground album in name only".[page needed] The 1995 CD boxed set Peel Slowly and See includes the four studio albums from the Lou Reed era of the band, but excludes Squeeze; in the liner notes, David Fricke dismisses it as "an embarrassment to the VU discography." Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine says "it doesn’t just ride the coattails of VU’s legacy but deliberately co-opts their achievement -- but it’s listenable, something its reputation never suggests". In March 2012, Classic Rock included the album at 28 in their list of The 50 Worst Albums of All Time.
In 1995, Yule described the recording of Squeeze being "like the blind leading the blind, me leading myself. That's what came out of it, I don't even have a copy of it. But it's kind of a nice memory for me and kind of an embarrassment at the same time. I wish I had my eyes wider open, but it was nice to get my name and my songs out there."
In 2012, Squeeze received both a CD release and a new LP release from Kismet, a label that specializes in reissuing obscure albums by relatively unknown acts. On the CD, a slight amount of white noisecan be heard throughout, indicating that it was recorded directly from an LP copy of the album. The reissues do not appear to be officially licensed from Polydor, the label the original album was on. A disclaimer included with the release states: "Due to the obscurity of releases on this label, we are occasionally unable to locate the owner of the master recordings. As we have no desire to deprive owners of their royalties, we have created an escrow account in the hopes that the rightful owners will see these releases and contact us. This approach is far from desirable but this is the only way we can bring this music to a wider audience." An e-mail address is then provided for the owner(s) of the music to contact Kismet for payment of royalties.
The reissues contain no outtakes. The packages do feature a short article from Melody Maker written by Richard Williams, originally published on October 6, 1971. The article features brief comments from Yule about the then-current UK tour that he was completing with original Velvet drummer Mo Tucker and recently added members Walter Powers and William Alexander.
All songs written by Doug Yule.
- Side one
- "Little Jack" – 3:25
- "Crash" – 1:21
- "Caroline" – 2:34
- "Mean Old Man" – 2:52
- "Dopey Joe" – 3:06
- "Wordless" – 3:00
- Side two
- "She'll Make You Cry" – 2:43
- "Friends" – 2:37
- "Send No Letter" – 3:11
- "Jack & Jane" – 2:53
- "Louise" – 5:43
- Additional musicians