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    The Velvet Underground – Under Review

    The Velvet Underground – Under Review

    The Velvet Underground: Under Review is a 2006 documentary about the legendary 1960s rock band. As most living organisms know, the Velvets were one of the primary sperms to spawn punk, noise rock, goth and indie–but not, as some believe, Velveeta processed cheese. After they formed in 1965, the Velvets wasted no time bringing pure innovation to the table, as they seamlessly laminated the clever rock ‘n’ roll songs of singer / guitarist Lou Reed, the La Monte Young-inspired avant-garde drones of violist John Cale, the stern and foreboding vocals of Nico, the second guitar foundation of Sterling Morrison, and the caveman-like cymbal-less backbeat of drummer Moe Tucker into a beautiful, exotic, scintillating whole.

    The film sprinkles a few handfuls of obscure and grainy-yet-spectacular footage of the band, gig flyers and period photos over a soundtrack of truncated album cuts and new interviews. Featured mugs include Moe, bass player Doug Yule (who “replaced” John Cale on the third album), graphic designer Billy Name (who tells his stories of creating the Velvets’ album cover art for the first time here), engineer Norman Dolph (who recalls recording the first album and a long-lost acetate of it that turned up decades later at a flea market), Velvets Expert Sal Mercuri, musician Dean Wareham, Boston Tea Party (a venue where the band played a lot) Manager Steve Nelson, critic Robert Christgau, and authors Clinton Heylin, Joe Harvard and Malcom Dome.

    Although the songs, album artwork, recording sessions, live gigs and overall historical significance of the Velvet Underground is discussed in a decent amount of detail, the absence of interviews with Lou Reed and John Cale carves a fairly big void in this doc. Also, the genesis of the band is merely glanced at, and, likewise, the film ends rather abruptly right when it arrives at the breakup. The other big beefs I have with it are the annoying copyright text at the top and bottom of all the vintage footage, and the glaring omission of the Velvets’ first drummer, Angus MacLise, who is never even mentioned. Then there’s the infamous Lester Bangs quote, in which he states that modern music begins with the Velvet Underground. Well, I guess he meant modern rock music, otherwise, I’d just have to laugh.

    Label: Sexy Intellectual Catalog Number: SIDVD501 Format: DVD Packaging: Plastic case inside a paperboard slipcase Special Features: Additional interviews, interactive Velvets quiz, contributor bios Total Time: 85 minutes Country: United States Released: 2006 More: All Music, Amazon, Forced Exposure, Unofficial, YouTube

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy

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