Who would think that such a friendly looking bunch could be responsible for something as downright nasty as “Sister Ray”? The mysteries of life. There are live versions aplenty of this VU epic, ranging from the song’s debut on the Gymnasium ‘67 bootleg to the three monstrous “Ray”s officially released on the Quine Tapes. This one, however, boasts the best sound quality, coming from the tapes that made up the Live ‘69 double LP. I wouldn’t say it’s the best performance, but it is amazing nonetheless. Instead of blowing the house down, this “Ray” is almost playful in the way it eases its way into the maelstrom. The Velvets are locked in tight with each other, Yule’s organ swirling, Morrison’s guitar dancing nimbly over the groove, Tucker switching tempos at will, Lou’s vocals going from seductive whispers to shrieks of … ecstasy? Terror? A little bit of both, I guess. “Ooooooeee! What’s gonna happen to me?” he wonders at the end. “Ohhhh no! I don’t care and I don’t know!” Exactly.
A quick self-reminder of the months I recently spent disguised as Sterling Morrison.