The Velvet Underground – a late Sixties band, famous for collaborations withNico, a German singer and the artist Andy Warhol. Most of the songs were written by Lou Reed (see R) and John Cale. Not sure if I really like them – one or two great songs but a lot of experimental noise too. Two albums – the first, the famous banana cover – The Velvet underground and Nico (1967), which I bought much later. Best songs are ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘Heroin’ and ‘I’m Waiting For My Man’. I also have The Best Of….again a mix of gentle songs and very fast noisy stuff. Best are ‘Stephanie Says’. I’ll Be Your Mirror’ and ‘All Tomorrows Parties’.
The Wainwrights – Loudon Wainwright the Third – An American singer-songwriter who wrote often funny, but sometimes poignant songs, mostly to a simple acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment. He released many albums during the last five decades, many songs are about his life and children. I only have a greatest hits One Man Guy and it is very entertaining and quite listenable, at least for a while. Best songs are ‘Your Mother and I’ (a sad song about divorce, written to his children), ‘Not John’ (about Lennon’s murder) and ‘Unhappy Anniversary’. He is also famous for marrying Kate McGarrigle (see M) a singer herself; together before their divorce they had two children Rufus and Martha, who both became singers too.
Martha Wainwright – has released about seven albums, though I only have her self-titled debut Martha Wainwright (2005), which is a shame as this record is excellent – my only defence is that there really are so many great artists that I cannot buy everything by all of them – though I have had a bloody good try. Anyway, the album – pretty good, especially ‘Factory To Factory’ – though a little bit shouty on occasion; she is much better on gentler stuff like ‘Far Away’ and ‘Whither Must I Wander’.
Rufus Wainwright – Older brother of Martha, and owner of a heart-rending and individualistic voice. I collected him for a while, but then, like so many others, I grew tired of him. First – his debut, entitled Rufus Wainwright. (1998). All the components were there already, that swooping and soaring voice, the passionate expression and quite good songs; ‘In My Arms’, ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Damned Ladies’ especially good. His follow-up Poses (2001) was even better, at least the songs were better formed and more memorable – best were ‘Cigarettes and ‘Chocolate’ which is reprieved at the end of the album as well as opening it – ‘California’ (not the Joni classic) and a great version of his father’s song ‘One Man Guy’ (with a different meaning as Rufus is as gay as you like. A really nice record – but then came 2003’s Want One – (sold later as a double with Want Two. This, for me, was THE album. You can almost, but not quite forget the rest – here he achieved perfection. Opener ‘Oh What A World’ sets the scene – what a great song; and it continues with ‘Movies Of Myself’ and ‘Harvester of Hearts’ but best is the magnificent ‘Go Or Go Ahead’. A brilliant album. He followed this a year later with Want Two. Not quite so good, though not at all bad. Best songs are ‘Agnus Dei’, ‘Gay Messiah’ and Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel’. 2007 saw Release The Stars – a much better album really. I particularly like ‘Do I Disappoint You’, ‘Rules and Regulations and ‘Sansoucci’. But I was very disappointed with his next album – All Days Are Nights – Songs For Lulu. It just seemed a dreary wail to my poor ears. Oh well. I stopped buying him after this – fickle?