"Settle back, pull up your cushions, or whatever else you have with you that makes life bearable in Texas," Lou Reed
mumbles as he sets up the audience for the show in the opening moments of Live at the End of Cole Ave: The Second Night
. This legendary concert recording captured the legendary proto-punks at what was arguably the height of their live performance powers in late 1969, playing a gig in Dallas, Texas on one of their rare appearances outside of the East Coast. By the time of this recording, John Cale had been replaced by Doug Yule
, and all of Cale's avant-garde posturing was stripped from a tightly wound working rock band. While the Velvets play serviceable versions of their early classics like "Femme Fatale" and "I'll Be Your Mirror" (not to mention a blistering 17-plus-minute version of "Sister Ray"), the songs from their third, self-titled album sound the most inspired and freshly conceived. "Beginning to See the Light," "What Goes On," "Pale Blue Eyes," and others from that near-perfect album get readings as spirited and giddy as the ever-cool Velvets were capable of giving. Completists and rarities hunters will appreciate the set for its almost 40 minutes of bonus tracks, consisting mostly of a jam session recorded after the show was over and most of the audience had gone home.