The morning of the Toronto Pop Festival - June 1969, featured an unusual and eclectic bill of performances: By: S.R.C. (from Detroit) Rotary Connection, Eric Anderson , the Velvet Underground, and the Band.

The "Velvets" came on stage looking austere and detached, they were unfamiliar, unsettling and exciting.

In contrast to that day's pleasant musical offerings, the hard-edged urban sound of the "Velvets" seemed stark and at times brutal-with frenetic guitars driven by the slow steady beat of Maureen Tucker playing an oddly inverted bass drum.

My friend Alex had brought a new cassette recorder and had loaded up with C-60ís to record both days of music, as the first cords of "Heroin" came through I prompted him to turn the recorder on.

Years later I borrowed the tapes from him and had eventually lost track of then in storage with boxes of my college books. More than 3 decades later I found the tapes again and with audio restoration software managed to bring the track to life.

I'm impressed by the emotion Lou put in the reading of the song. The distracted audience chatter is annoying but is overcome by a truly evocative performance. The lyric strength and musical originality unmatched today.

Not a bad summer afternoon.

- W.Z.


The Velvet Underground - Heroin

live at Toronto Pop Festival
Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
June 21, 1969


Recording: Alex Andronache
Restoration: William Zabusky

Special thanks to W.Z.

created by Olivier Landemaine
last modified: October 25, 2008

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