She may have been a self-described “schlep from Levittown,” but Maureen “Moe” Tucker of The Velvet Underground always beat to the sound of her own drum. Tucker shed her suburban roots when she joined with Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison in The Velvet Underground, replacing drummer Angus MacLise. (His tenure was a brief few months.) It’s fair to say that The Velvets changed the sound of rock and roll forever, breaking long-held lyrical taboos and musically drawing from both avant-garde drones and crunchy R&B riffs. And as the drummer anchoring those groundbreaking works, Moe Tucker changed the sound of The Velvet Underground. Tucker’s style was all her own, with a primal urgency and spare set-up. She rarely used cymbals, with her kit consisting of tom toms, a snare drum and an upturned bass drum. She preferred mallets to drumsticks. And she preferred to play standing up, eschewing the usual stool. Tucker’s take-no-prisoners style survived the demise of the band, and she continues to make music today. The fine folks at Sundazed Music have just announced I Feel So Far Away: Anthology 1974-1998, the first-ever career-spanning set for the solo work of Moe Tucker.
Never the recipient of a solo major label contract, Tucker’s discography consists of a number of releases on various independent labels in multiple configurations: LPs, EPs, singles, compact discs. Sundazed’s 2-CD compilation, also available as a 3-LP set, brings together some of the best and rarest of Tucker’s career, including collaborations with members of Sonic Youth, Violent Femmes, Half-Japanese and yes, The Velvet Underground. (Remember Brian Eno’s adage that while the Velvets didn’t sell many records, everyone who bought an album went on to form a band?)
Somewhat surprisingly, the Tucker ouevre contains more titles than the Velvet Underground’s own catalogue; the seminal band only recorded four canon albums. A fifth LP (1973’s Squeeze) was almost solely the work of Doug Yule, John Cale’s replacement in the band, and is hardly considered a Velvet Underground album despite the band name above the title. Tucker began her solo career in 1982 with Playin’ Possum, and while she manned the drum kit, she also took on guitars and saxophone in addition to vocals. The album was recorded at home with a four-track recorder, but the results were anything but simple. Five tracks on I Feel So Far Away originated on this debut which took in all of Tucker’s influences and even directly addressed her musical heritage. The Lou-Reed penned VU classic “Heroin” sat comfortably alongside “Bo Diddley,” Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around” and Little Richard’s “Slippin’ and Slidin’.” Songs from Tucker’s youth proliferate on her solo releases, and on the anthology you’ll hear unique takes on Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” and Phil Spector hits like “Then He Kissed Me” and “To Know Him is to Love Him.” Ironically, Tucker’s work with Reed, Cale and Morrison helped shatter the conventions of Brill Building pop that Tucker later celebrated.
What else will you find? Hit the jump for more, including the full track listing, discographical information and a pre-order link!
All told, Tucker would go on to release four studio albums, two live albums and one “best-of” plus various singles, EPs and one-offs. “Heroin” wasn’t the only Velvet Underground song revisited in Tucker’s career; you’ll also hear reworkings of “I’m Sticking with You,” “After Hours,” “Pale Blue Eyes” and “I’m Waiting for the Man,” all penned by Reed. The original recording of “I’m Sticking with You,” also with Tucker on lead vocal, enjoyed a resurgence in popularity when it was included on the soundtrack to 2008’s Juno. Tucker’s prowess as a multi-instrumentalist is very much in evidence; harmonica, keyboards and bass are just a few more of the instruments under her “D.I.Y.” belt.
Moe Tucker’s life has taken her from Andy Warhol’s Factory to the town of Douglas, Georgia where she lived as a single mother and worked far away from the show business spotlight. All of her varied experiences have been drawn on in song, with Warhol celebrated in “Andy” from 1989’s Life in Exile After Abdication and “Spam Again” and “That’s B.A.D.” (taken from Oh No, They’re Recording This Show and I Spent a Week There the Other Night, respectively) both reflecting on less glamorous times. What these songs have in common is the raw, down-to-earth rock and roll sensibility of the woman at their heart.
I Feel So Far Away has been mastered by Sundazed’s Bob Irwin and annotated by David Fricke. Four tracks (indicated below) are exclusive to the CD edition. Both the CD and vinyl versions will be in stores from Sundazed Music on March 26, and you’ll find a pre-order link below!
Moe Tucker, I Feel So Far Away: Anthology 1974-1998 (Sundazed SC 11211, 2012)
- Bo Diddley
- Slippin’ and Slidin’
- Around and Around
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
- Ellas *
- I’m Sticking With You
- Guess I’m Falling in Love
- Hey Mersh!
- Pale Blue Eyes
- Talk So Mean (alternate mix)
- Do It Right *
- Fired Up (single version)
- Too Shy (single version)
- That’s B.A.D.
- Blue, All the Way to Canada
- Then He Kissed Me
- Fired Up *
- I’m Not
- I’m Waiting for the Man
- Spam Again (live)
- Crackin’ Up
- I’ve Seen Into Your Soul
- Danny Boy *
- Poor Little Fool
- I Wanna
- To Know Him is to Love Him
- Last Night I Said Goodbye to My Friend
- After Hours
* Track available on CD edition only
Tracks 1-4 & 6 from Playin’ Possum, Trash Records 1001, 1982
Tracks 5 & 7 from Another View, VAR Records CD 11, 1985
Track 7 possibly from Modern Pop Classics, Valvuren single, 1980
Track 8 from Moejadkatebarry, 50 Skidillion Watts EP MOE 1, 1986
Tracks 9-12, 13 (original version), 14 from Life in Exile After Abdication, 50 Skidillion Watts LP 7, 1989
Tracks 15-16 from Too Shy/Fired Up single, New Rose NEW 152, 1991
Tracks 17-23 from I Spent a Week There the Other Night, Young God, 3104, 1994
Track 24 from Oh No, They’re Recording This Show, New Rose 422418, 1992
Tracks 25-29 from Dogs Under Stress, Sky Records 3103, 1994
Track 30 from GRL-Grup, Lakeshore Drive 2001, 1997
Track 31 TBD
Track 32 from I’m Sticking with You/After Hours single, Lakeshore Drive, 2002
Discographical information is to the best of our knowledge at present.