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Maureen Tucker: Playin’ Possum

[Photo of Maureen Tucker] Maureen “Moe” Tucker, the Velvet Underground’s drummer, was notable in that even people who don’t pay a lot of attention to drummer styles can immediately pick her out. Her style — mallets, not sticks; no snares on the drums; very few cymbals; all to a Bo Diddley–influenced beat — was even more vital to the VU’s sound than John Cale’s viola, and it’s no coincidence that the only VU album she wasn’t on, 1970’s Loaded, was also by far their worst.

After the Velvets broke up, she moved to Texas and got a job at Wal-Mart, and concentrated on raising her large family. She finally went back to music in 1981, when she recorded her first album, Playin’ Possum. She recorded it in her living room (“between diaper changes”, she says) over a period of six months, overdubbing every instrument, and the result was quite odd; it doesn’t really sound like anything else. It’s one of my favorite albums (although I think her more conventional I Spent a Week There the Other Night is even better).

This is a difficult LP to find, and unlike the rest of her catalog it hasn’t been issued on CD. It was released on “Trash Records”, which I think was just Tucker’s own label. I managed to find a copy at a used-record store back in the late 1980s; I put it in storage with all my other records in a rural farmhouse I won in a bet and left it there for years. I went back a couple years ago and the roof had sprung a leak. Just one. In a giant house. And where else but directly above the one box that had most of my hard-to-find records like this one and a mono copy of the Velvet Underground’s first album with an unpeeled banana and Eric Emerson on the back (basically the equivalent of the Beatles’ “Butcher Cover”). The covers were destroyed by the water and mold was growing in the grooves. Sigh.

[Front cover of I managed to find another copy, finally, and it’s pretty clean, so here it is. Unfortunately, the cover has stickers all over it, so I can’t get a scan of it. I’m using the only image I can find on Google, which is much lower resolution than I would normally use. Sorry about that. I’m pretty happy with how the MP3s came out, though, so I guess that’s the important thing.

  1. Bo Diddley
  2. Heroin
  3. Slippin’ and Slidin’
  4. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
  5. Louie Louie
  6. Slippin’ and Slidin’
  7. Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Major
  8. Around and Around
  9. Ellas

4 Comments so far
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[...] Underground’s forgotten drummer recorded the rare album Playin’ Possum in 1981 ”between diaper changes”. A must have for the true VU collectionneur. Via PCL Posted in [...]

Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve never heard it (or much of Maureen Tucker’s music for that matter) before and I enjoyed it very much. Your work is appreciated!

Pastor McPurvis

Yes that shum Shope Dit waw waw waw wa !!



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