Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Velvet Underground - Velvet Redux Live MCMXCIII|
Actor: The Velvet Underground
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
The Velvet Underground decided to call it quits in 1970, and the last thing anyone expected was to hear from them again. When the Velvets announced plans for a reunion tour in Europe, opening for U2 on select dates there, ... more »
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Thomas D. Ryan | New York | 02/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to figure out the correct way to view this video document. The Velvet Underground were so far ahead of their times and subsequently so influential that I feel it does them a disservice to view this concert recording as a reunion of a band that has ceased to exist 35 years ago. Then again, how good are you at reading Roman Numerals? If you know the system, then you know that this footage is taken from a reunion tour that occurred over a decade ago, in 1993. So, already we have a conundrum; it's a 10-year old reunion show of a band that still retains a strong foothold on the sound of modern music. Therefore, the show featured in MCMXCVIII is contemporary in one (or more) sense(s), and obsolete in another.
The first thing that I sensed while watching the first few songs unfold is the lack of rapport between the four members. Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker don't interact much, and this makes it hard to shrug off the impression that these folks just don't like playing together all that much. Perhaps by design, this adds tension to the proceedings, which is an essential ingredient of the Velvet Underground's music, and probably one significant reason why their music retains its relevance. Regardless of impressions, the fact is that the band sounds really GOOD throughout this show. Lou Reed's deadpan vocals never strain (of course they don't), and his guitar playing continually manages to convey control and power, despite some technical ineptitude. With his multi-instrumental abilities, strong vocals, and engaging stage presence, John Cale brings panache to the proceedings, covering all bases without any sign of strain. For reasons that I cannot explain, Sterling Morrison is seen only occasionally, making it difficult to judge his exact role (or relevance) in the reformed band, other than to maintain the rhythmic drive when Reed and Tucker veer off into the nether regions. Moe Tucker's drumming remains naïve, but it also somehow brilliantly perfect, giving the band a unique `artful' flavor that sets them apart from everyone else.
Songs about sexual deviation and drug abuse abound (this IS a Velvet Underground reunion so what would you expect?), but the frightening edge of "Heroin," "White Light White Heat" and "Venus in Furs" is replaced by an attitude of sublime awareness, or maybe it's just ennui. Taken in their present context, the performers seem out of place performing their own material, and yet much of it still sounds oddly powerful. "I'll Be Your Mirror" is particularly excellent, with a double-time `hoe-down' rhythm that enlivens the song while also reinventing it. "Rock and Roll" sounds as anthemic as it should, and John Cale sounds perfectly wonderful taking Nico's role for "Femme Fatale." Only "Hey Mr. Rain" pushes things too far. In essence, the song is a one-chord drone that is appealing only for its relentless energy and the vague `unification' that is suggested by watching the four original members of Velvet Underground jam together. Judged from another angle, though, it is simply a nihilistic and self-indulgent orgy of noise. Relief is forthcoming when Moe Tucker steps forward to sing the thoroughly incongruous "I'm Sticking With You," a cute anomaly that somehow manages to fit into the proceedings because of its ability to offset Lou Reed's tales of debauchery.
Watching MCMXCIII makes me realize how easily the Velvet Underground have managed to avoid the `oldies' tag. This film documents a very interesting show, one that relies on the relevance of the present (well, the present of 1993) rather than on past glories, while simultaneously suggesting that this is one band that will never succumb to the ravages of time. B+ Tom Ryan
Buy it, don't even think about it, just buy it !...
Justo Manrique | Houston, TX USA | 04/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great video for any velvet underground fan. The group is incredible, especially John Cale. This was the first time I had ever seen the group or any of the group's members play and I would have paid anything to see them. This video is not perfect (Lou's the star of the video and I missed more of Sterling and Maureen) but for those of us who haven't had the chance to see any of them on stage, its well worth the price. I specially loved Hey Mr. Rain and Heroin, but all the songs are very cool, I mean, come on! It's the Velvet Underground on video!"
Could have been longer
epsteinsmutha | At the bottom of Juan Epstein's excuse note | 02/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is pretty much a straight from VHS adaptation of the VU's 1993 reunion show. I don't know if video footage exists of the rest of the show (The audio does. See the double CD version), but in an age where some of us get the DVD version strictly for the bonus material, I feel gypped as I imagine many others do, if we didn't already what with John and Lou not being able to keep it together to get the show to America, esp. since Sterling died not long thereafter. Give us some commentary from John, Mo or Lou or even Sterling's widow Martha.
The camera spends most of its time on Lou and John, ignoring Dr. Morrison and Mo, who were just as much contributors to the Velvets' sound as Lou's voice/songwriting and John's sinewave drone on the viola. I had a bit of a problem with that. No one plays/played drums like Mo Tucker and Sterling and Lou both did great guitar lines on the VU's songs.
If you are a fan of the Velvets, yeah, you need this. You probably already had it in VHS form and are just updating your library. Still, it's hard not to feel that, like the Velvets themselves in their short lifetime, the disc doesn't really get its due.
Bedon Rivera Cesar Arnaldo | perú | 03/01/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"let me get this straight: i haven't bought the dvd (don't know if i will) but i have owned this show in vhs for almost a decade. i agree with the people that say the band feels detached from their own songs here (but hey, it was almost a quarter of century after their split) and that for a good part of the show --mostly not seen on the video, but present on the 2cd set-- this feels much more like "lou reed and his backing band", which isn't nearly as good as "the velvets live". anyway, the selection of songs is good, i guess (i'd have prefered to have "afterhours" instead of "i'm sticking with you" and why the hell "all tomorrow's parties" is not included?) but this release on dvd is quite a dissapointment. i understand that this is basically a vhs to dvd release, so the sound is merely stereo, not 5.1... by the way, john cale complained a lot about the freaking MIX of the cds by mike rathke, 'cause they didn't capture the raw energy ("we wanted to fill the room up with this noise") of the show, and indeed reed's vocals are in the front, which is not good always. check out how cale's viola is almost buried in "venus in furs" for instance... it's a shame that, as usual, lou reed got control of everything in this so-so product and it's a shame that this is the only official document of their last reunion. we'd like to see the whole damn show at least, and a new mix!"