Back on track with my site live again, and keeping good to my word about celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground and Nico, here’s a short documentary film that brings viewers as close as they can come to getting their hands on a ticket to Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. It’s important to remember that The Velvet Underground were originally one element in a multimedia extravaganza that included pioneering light displays, dancers and very very loud music. Here’s the word from UBUWEB…
Title: Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable with The Velvet Underground
Director: Ronald Nameth
Show Co-ordinator: Paul Morrisey
Lights: Dan Williams
Sound: David Faison
Music: The Velvet Underground & Nico, I’ll Be Your Mirror and European Son from The Velvet Underground & Nico LP and It Was a Pleasure Then from Nico’s Chelsea Girl LP, and two live songs from the Exploding Plastic Inevitable at Poor Richard’s, 1363 No. Sedgwick, Chicago, 1966/06/23, Heroin [5:14] and Venus In Furs [3:24]. That show was without Lou Reed who was at New York’s Beth Israel Hospital for hepatitis, and without Nico who took off for Ibiza at the beginning of June. John Cale on lead vocals and keyboards, drums, Sterling Morrison on guitar, Maureen Tucker on bass, and Angus MacLise was on drums.
Running Time: 22 minutes (long version)/12 minutes (short version)
Release Date: 1966-08-00 [US]
Cast: The Velvet Underground & Nico: John Cale (vocals, organ), Sterling Morrison (rhythm guitar), Maureen Tucker (bass guitar), Angus McLise (drums)
Gerard Malanga: Dancer
Ingrid Superstar: Dancer
Note: An alternate version of this film was broadcasted on French TV channel Canal + on 1990-08-26. That version is edited to 12 minutes and the soundtrack is different: Venus In Furs [3:57] and Heroin [3:19] are not the versions sung by John Cale but those from the Columbus Valleydale Ballroom 1966-11-04 tape. Credits titles are also different (John Cale’s name appears correctly spelled even though it was mispelled as ‘John Cahill’ in the 22-min version). It was this shortened version which was shown at the Fondation Cartier exhibition in Jouy-En-Josas on 1990-06-15 and is available on the Re:Voir VHS.
Andy Warhol’s hellish sensorium, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, was, while it lasted, the most unique and effective discotheque environment prior to the Fillmore/Electric Circus era, and it is safe to say that the EPI has never been equaled. Similarly, Ronald Nameth’s cinematic homage to the EPI stands as a parangon of excellence in the kinetic rock-show ganre. Nameth, a colleague of John Cage in several mixed-media environments at the University of Illinois, managed to transform his film into something far more than a mere record of an event. Like Warhol’s show, Nameth’s EPI is an experience, not an idea.
Here’s the film…