For all the hipster hosannas heaped upon the Velvet Underground – and deservedly so, one essential member oft overlooked is bassist Doug Yule, who joined the band upon John Cale’s dismissal in 1968 and played a major role in the evolution of the ensemble, anchoring two seminal slabs and several archival and live releases which have inspired generations of indie and alternative rockers.
Unlike Cale, who was indifferent to the instrument, Yule was a fluid player and vocalist who complimented Lou’s gravitation from the avant-garde towards the then burgeoning singer-songwriter movement.
Though The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) and White Light/White Heat (1968) were critically acclaimed groundbreaking efforts; to my ears Velvet Underground (1969) and Loaded (1970) both with Yule, represent the band’s most enduring works.
When VU finally split following Lou’s departure and the recording of Squeeze (1973), which was essentially a Doug Yule solo album – the bassist founded American Flyer with Steve Katz (Blood, Sweat & Tears), Eric Kaz (Blues Magoos), and Craig Fuller (Pure Prairie League).
The Flyers’ two Americana flavored releases, produced by George Martin, failed reach a wide audience. IN addition to a tour or two with Lou, Doug anchored the cut “Billy” from Reed’s only Top Ten album – Sally Can’t Dance (1974) and appears on the 30th Anniversary edition alternate takes from Coney Island Baby (1975). Doug also waxed tracks with Eliott Murphy which were released on his stellar platter Night Lights (1976).
When the Velvet’s reunited for a money grab tour and live twofer in 1993, Yule was not invited despite the insistence of Sterling Morrison.
And Doug’s omission from the Velvet Underground’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction is inexplicable – especially given the fact that the majority of the band’s signature tracks feature Yule on bass and vocals! Shame on Lou and Cale for not citing his contributions to the legacy of the Velvet Underground.
Tom Semioli / Huffington Post 2015 “Eleven Bass Players Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Doug Yule” https://bit.ly/2VpzRyy
Doug Yule currently lives in Seattle, and plays, restores, and makes violins. Follow him at www.dougyule.com