Acoustic Syndicate Covers The Velvet Underground: Exclusive Premiere

Hear the quartet put their own spin on "Rock And Roll."

By Scott Bernstein Nov 18, 2021 10:36 am PST

Acoustic Syndicate recorded a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock And Roll” for their latest Organic Records single. JamBase is pleased to premiere the North Carolina-based quartet’s version ahead of its official release tomorrow (Friday, November 19).

The Velvet Underground originally issued “Rock And Roll” on their iconic 1970 studio album, Loaded. Acoustic Syndicate added their own spin to the track while keeping in the same key as the 1970 recording. Bryon McMurry handled lead vocals and contributed a banjo solo to “Rock And Roll” while guitarist Steve McMurry honored Lou Reed’s signature riff, drummer Fitz McMurry paid homage to Mo Tucker’s excitable drumming and bassist Jay Sanders steadied the cover.

“Rock And Roll” holds a special place in Steve McMurry’s heart. The guitarist shared the following about his connection with the song:

The first time I ever heard the song ‘Rock and Roll’ by The Velvet Underground was September 10th, 1984. I had just graduated from high school, moved to a new town and enrolled in HVACR tech school at Gaston College. It was the first day of class, and I was early; I was listening to 95Q in Charlotte…back when it was still a legit rock’n’roll station. I was sitting in the parking lot of a strange place, in a strange town, preparing to embark on a new path that I had no previous experience with…feeling pretty alone, and fairly nervous.

At about 8:15, the song started. By the time it got into the first big chorus melody, I was hooked; I had it turned up about as loud as it would go and I remember totally doing the head bang in my 1977 Toyota Celica GT with the custom supercharged sound system. I didn’t know who the Velvet Underground was at that point, and I actually thought it was something new. I stayed in the car and sat through two more songs before the DJ (and I swear it was Larry Sprinkle) came back on to call out the tunes—‘…and startin’ it all off with a classic from Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground.’ Suffice it to say, my day started off much better than I had anticipated it would. I think I literally pimp-walked into class to begin the first steps of my first career in a very positive and good way.

While Steve wasn’t familiar with The Velvet Underground and put the experience out of his mind, he was turned onto the band in a big way by friend Mark Elam a few years later. “Mark is unquestionably the most credentialed and well-read V.U. aficionado I know, and has taken the big, deep dive into the history and material of the band and Lou-Baby as far as one can probably go without moving to New York City,” the guitarist added. “To this day, I can’t hear The Velvet Underground’s ‘Rock and Roll’ without having that little butterfly flutter in my stomach and immediately returning to that fall morning in 1984… back to that rare moment of youthful exhilaration, excitement, possibility and hope for the future.”

Listen to Acoustic Syndicate’s “Rock And Roll” cover below:

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