I didn’t know the song Ocean, by the Velvet Underground, despite owning Unloaded for years, until I hear a cover version by MGMT off their Late Night Tales album.
I wasn’t very impressed. in fact, as the song neared its end, I was struck by the realization that it had a bizarre ripoff of Alive and Kicking‘s signature riff. I was a little angry that MGMT had pulled off this larceny and was determined to listen more closely to see if I was right.
Unfortunately, it was as if the song didn’t exist – I kept googling “MGMT ocean” to find a youtube version to play side-by-side against the Simple Minds’ song, but I kept coming up short. Until I added the album name, ‘Late Night Tales‘ to my search and found the Underground version. And then I was stuck.
Alive and Kicking came out in 1985, Ocean came out on the Velvet Underground’s VU album the same year. So, neither was a copy of the other, just two bands hitting similar riffs at the same time. However, Ocean had been recorded for MGM studio years earlier, in 1969, and was simply shelved until its release on VU.
Except that there was another version re-recorded by the Underground, but released on Lou Reed’s eponymous album in 1972. So it is possible that Simple Minds had heard this and was influenced by it.
Or maybe I’m just hearing things that aren’t there.
And if I’m really interested in hearing an ocean song, it’s probably this one: