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va illbeyourmirror
Artist: Various Artists
Title: I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico
Genre: Alternative Rock
Release Date: 24th September 2021
Label: Virgin Music / Verve Records


Album Review

It’s the year 2021 and I find myself writing a review about an album, that was ground breaking, when it was released, though it did not break sales records within the two years after the release and the bands members weren’t happy with them. We are talking the band that invented Alternative Rock and lay the base for all kinds of alternative music that would follow over the years. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND is one of the most important bands in the history of Rock and Alternative music, though nowadays most people might have forgotten about them. So, a very good selection of legendary musicians teamed up and made a tribute album. A tribute to an album that has a wonderful dark mood and still comes with a bright Pop-Art cover by Andy Warhol: ‘I’ll be Your Mirror’.

I must admit, that I was highly sceptical, when I started listening to the stream offered by the label, for alternative versions of songs from ‘I’ll be Your Mirror’ were kind of unthinkable for me, I could not imagine, that nowadays in a perfectly sound-engineered world of music, something like these ground-breaking songs could be re-imagined, but curiosity won and so I have the honour to give my opinion, what legendary artists of Rock and Alternative music made of songs, that lay the base for their style of music and inspired many of them, back in the days.

Michael Stipe (R.E.M) got the honour to open the album by performing ‘Sunday Morning’ and the moment I heard his powerful interpretation of the lyrics, I was glad, that I had given this tribute album a chance. He gives the lyrics a lot more emotion and makes it even more melancholic than the original one, to make it short: it is more perfect, than the original one. Another legend was asked to perform ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, Matt Berninger of THE NATIONAL made the song his own, making the vocals sounding less desperate and turning the mood to positive anticipation. ‘Femme Fatale’ is performed by Sharon Van Etten und Angel Olsen, who made it into a slower song, with slight Country elements and since their voices are more sophisticated, they perform the lyrics so elegantly, that the whole song gets an even softer and more refined touch. Chapeau.

The most surprising new interpretation of the legendary songs, was ‘Venus In Furs’. The original song is carrying the mood of a cliché movie style oriental opium den and you know it for sure. The strong focus on Tambourine and the unnerving string line and effects. Andrew Bird & Lucius made it a master piece, that would fancy any medieval style movie. With a strong focus on the songs original sound, that is now interpreted by strings and underlined with further medieval instrumentation, they placed the song in a different era but with such an intense attitude and so refined vocals, that it exceeds the original version in a brilliant way.

ST. VINCENT teamed up with Thomas Bartlett and they made a perfect nowadays version of ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’. The song starts nearly psychedelic, with some spoken word’s effects, and then more and more tension is built up. The effects they are using would have been ground breaking back in the days and still sound experimental nowadays, the song was kind of stripped to the essentials and then newly interpretated, but that’s what THE VELVET UNDERGROUND did back in the day, they knew no limits and that’s what ST. VINCENT perfectly demonstrated here. The song is galaxies away from the original one, but still sounds ground breaking.

‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ was handled by FONTAINES D.C. from Ireland, to be honest it was not the best choice. The vocal part is well made, but the instrumental part is unnerving, all the fiddling and piping dominates the song and makes it unnerving after a while, something should would never have happened to such a wonderful song, that builds up an instrumental intensity that makes you feel like being in a crime movie, and you get the feeling, that something extreme is going to happen any moment. If you ever have seen IGGY POP live, you know, that he carries on the wild spirit of the 70’s and he was the perfect choice for this song. IGGY POP & Matt Sweeney made the original song even wilder ad it breathes the spirit of the old days, inviting us to an energetic and exciting party that lasts more than eight minutes.

It’s difficult to rate an album that’s a legend and interpretations that artists from very different genres and generations made for this tribute album. For fans of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, it’s nice to hear “updated” versions of the songs and explore how the band inspired so many different artists, but it’s not a must have.


Tracklist

Sunday Morning - Michael Stipe
I’m Waiting For The Man - Matt Berninger
Femme Fatale - Sharon Van Etten with Angel Olsen
Venus in Furs - Andrew Bird & Lucius
Run Run Run - Kurt Vile
All Tomorrow’s Parties - St. Vincent & Thomas Bartlett
Heroin - Thurston Moore feat. Bobby Gillespie
There She Goes Again - King Princess
I’ll Be Your Mirror - Courtney Barnett
The Black Angel’s Death Song - Fontaines D.C.
European Sun - Iggy Pop & Matt Sweeney


Cover Picture

va illbeyourmirror


Rating

Music: 8
Sound: 9
Total: 8.5 / 10




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