My buddies the Tiki Brothers play a lot of water and beach themed tunes. They started out playing covers, lots of novelty tunes (Pipeline anyone?) a few years ago and at one of their early shows at the Steinhof Cafe, a bar up the road from my house, they played a gorgeous non-novelty song about the sea that stately-sloshed it’s way up the bank and back down the beach again, with a long inevitable build of tension and melody and determination. These are the not coincidentally the characteristics that, for me, dominate Lou Reed’s song writing. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he wrote this late Velvet Underground song that I didn’t know, called “Ocean,” which I’d surely heard because it was on the Velvet’s big commercial move, Loaded. (The link here is to the demo version, which features John Cale on organ and wasn’t on the released elpee.)
Walker, the Tiki’s bassist, sent me a recording today. It’s Ocean, the Lou Reed song, only with a kind of righteous poem dedicated to Lou Reed laid on top by the Tiki’s vocalis/mandolin player, Buck, extemporaneously I’m told. And like the original it starts quiet and builds into something of a roiling swamp of tone poem and tribute and something a little lovely and oddly familiar with Lou. It’s recorded live in the rehearsal studio so the balance and mix isn’t always perfect, but that’s okay. It builds to something I thought worth sharing.
Ocean–Thank You Lou Reed, by the Tiki Brothers.
Ps. I went looking for a picture of Lou Reed at the beach, maybe doing tai chi or working on his tan, but this was the closest I could find.