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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > The Velvet Underground - Velvet Redux Live MCMXCIII

VIDEO REVIEWS

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - VELVET REDUX LIVE MCMXCIII (2006)

Starring Lou Reed, John Cale, Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrison.

Directed by Declan Lowney.

Distributed by Sire/Rhino Home Video.  83 minutes.  Not Rated.

The Velvet Underground - Velvet Redux Live MCMXCIII

Everyone knows the legend of the Velvet Underground, a brainy group of beatnik New York musicians who were championed by pop artist Andy Warhol and his hip friends.  The Underground released a few albums that barely sold any copies before imploding, including an acclaimed debut which featured the vocals of Nico, a willowy European model with strong Marlene Dietrich inflections.  However, the band's work was discovered in cut out bins and soon most everyone who purchased it started their own groups.  Lead singer Lou Reed went on to a long, respected solo career, even scoring a fluke solo hit with "Walk On the Wild Side," his hypnotic 1973 examination of the low culture of New York.  Other band members John Cale, Maureen (Moe) Tucker and Sterling Morrison also continued working over the years at differing levels, but the combustible chemistry of the original Velvets was never revisited due to grudges and miscommunications.

This stand off ended (extremely briefly) in 1993, when the original members agreed to do a reunion tour which did rather well, but also reopened old wounds and scuttled a hoped for return to the studio.  Velvet Redux Live MCMXCIII is a souvenir of one of these reunion shows.  If the strained feelings and anger was pulsing through this show it is hard to pick up on.  Despite the slightly pretentious title (come on, guys, Roman numerals?) this is actually a tight set of some brilliant shoulda-been hits.

The group may have never completely caught on due to the drug-usage that was so prevalent in the lyrics of classics like "White Light/White Heat," "Heroin," "Sweet Jane" and "I'm Waiting For the Man" -- all of which are given strong run-throughs here.  The Velvet Underground, though always thought of as a precursor of punk rock, is actually at its best when it is quiet and contemplative.  John Cale's vocal on "Femme Fatale" is still staggeringly beautiful, as is Lou Reed's devotional "I'll Be Your Mirror."  Frankly, both only benefit here from losing Nico's nearly phonetic vocals.  I only wish that they had pulled the spectacular "Stephanie Says" from deep in their vaults, but all the standards of the band's repertoire are here and accounted for.

This DVD is vital, if only because it will likely be the only video of the original lineup of the VU.  It's doubly vital because the band are so on here.  Hopefully in another decade or so, the group will bury the hatchet again for one more go-round.  (1/06)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2006   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: January 28, 2006.

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Copyright 2006   PopEntertainment.comAll rights reserved.  Posted: January 28, 2006.

 

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