May 27, 2014

The Velvet Underground: Norman Dolph acetate up for auction again

There she goes again ... The fabled Velvet Underground acetate is up for auction again. It sold for $25,200 in 2006 by which the seller, collector Warren Hill, made a killing. He spotted the acetate at a street sale in New York City in 2002 and bought it for 75 cents.

The acetate contains alternate mixes and takes of nine tracks from the Velvets debut album. The acetate was made by engineer Norman Dolph in 1966. Only two copies have survived. Maureen Tucker has the other one, which was used for an official release on vinyl in 2012 and as part of the 45th anniversary deluxe edition box set. The album will be auctioned off in July through Shuga Records:

The Velvet Underground and Nico acetate is a 'one of a kind' surviving copy of a record that carries an obscure history to match its audio cadence, and this extremely rare album has revived itself again on the market in America.

Recorded in April of 1966 by Norman Dolph at Scepter Studios, the test-press acetate was created after-hours in secret at Columbia records by Dolph himself. Andy Warhol, who was managing the Velvet Underground at the time, exchanged an original painting for Dolph's 'ghost producing' the project.

Initially, Andy Warhol had pitched this completed recording for release to Columbia records. Columbia Records returned the recording, dismissing it with a blatant and bold rejection (a note that said something akin to "do you think we're out of our fucking minds?"). Andy Warhol, John Cale, Norman Dolph, and John Licata could all be considered as contributing producers on the 'Scepter Sessions'. A re-recording was released by Verve Records in 1967, with Tom Wilson as the official producer. The album became a success and remains a success to this day.

In 2002 Warren Hill bought the Scepter Sessions Acetate at a street sale in Chelsea, New York for 75 cents. After giving a closer inspection to this delicate acetate, Warren investigated its history and value further. Once he gathered more details, he listed the acetate on Ebay with full knowledge of its value. The closing bid sat at $155,401 with a winning bidder who failed to finalize the transaction. The acetate was then re-listed and sold at $25,200. A limited edition pressing of 5,000 was released on Black Friday/Record Store Day of 2012, supposedly made from Moe Tucker's copy of the acetate.

Shuga Records, a high quality record merchant that specializes in one-of-a-kind items, based in Chicago, Illinois. They will be hosting the transaction of the item in July of 2014 on behalf of its owner who will remain anonymous.

10% of the sale will be donated to an animal rights charity.


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