DVD Review HTF Review: Velvet Underground - Velvet Redux MCMXCIII

Discussion in 'DVD' started by JeffreyDurbin, Feb 2, 2006.

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  1. JeffreyDurbin

    JeffreyDurbin Auditioning

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    [​IMG]
    The Velvet Underground: Velvet Redux Live MCMXCIII

    Studio: Rhino Entertainment Group
    Year: 1993
    Rated: Not rated
    Film Length: 85 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Screen
    Audio: Stereo
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English
    Subtitles: None
    MSRP: $19.98
    Package: Single disc/Keepcase

    The Feature:
    I was born in 1963. As a result, the Velvet Underground came and went before I hit the fifth grade. Years later, I got turned onto Lou Reed – grooving to songs like “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” “Sweet Jane,” “Dirty Blvd,” “Heroin,” and “Romeo and Juliet.” But, the only Lou Reed or Velvet Underground album I ever bought was the New York album. It just wasn’t enough to stimulate more than a passing interest in their sound.

    Sure, I knew that people called Lou Reed (and the Velvet Underground) the fathers of the punk movement and I knew, particularly from the New York album, that his songs were the antithesis of the feel-good pop of the Beach Boys or the blue-collar yet uplifting anthems of Bruce Springsteen. Reed has always had an ability, as well as a need, to lay bare the nightmares of the urban dystopia.

    When I loaded the DVD for this review I expected a bit of the glam rock and excess that the Velvet Underground was known for. Sure, the beautiful yet bizarre Nico had long since died and Reed and his bandmates were in their 50s when the DVD was recorded but the reputation of the Underground was that dominant. What I got was entirely different. What I got was four middle-aged rockers who had gone straight – at least on the surface – and played the old hits with an emotional detachment that was almost unnerving. But in all honesty, perhaps that made the performance more assessable (for a middle-aged me.)

    In 1993 when the band reformed for a European tour (the basis of the DVD), the players were Lou Reed and John Cale – the two most creative members of the band – Sterling Morisson, and Maureen Tucker. They cycled through their most popular songs as well as a couple that are a bit ‘challenging’ to say the least. As I listened and watched the DVD I became struck by how much I was reminded of the Talking Heads. Obviously, the Velvet Underground predated the Heads but there clearly seemed an obvious influence on the later band. I think it was a combination of Lou Reed’s manner of singing as well as John Cale’s mannerisms and suit reminding me of David Byrne in Stop Making Sense. Brian Eno is the common thread between the two bands so it makes sense that they would have a similar impression on me.

    Although the members of the band may have seemed to lack the passion of young rockers clawing their way up in the 70s, the music is technically well-performed and is usually quite interesting and accessible. (3.5 / 5 stars)

    Video:
    If you’re used to the professionalism of the Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over DVD then you will be sadly disappointed by the video quality of this disc. Remember that the original film was shot in 1993. There is significant graininess and other artifacts that one would expect with a film of that era. (2.5 / 5 stars)

    Audio:
    Unfortunately, the audio matches the quality of the video. It was recorded in stereo and Rhino felt no need to remaster it for this release. I didn’t notice static or other harshness but it clearly lacked the dynamic range that 21st century technology has spoiled us with. (2.5 / 5 stars)

    Special Features:
    There are none. (0 / 5 stars)

    Final Thoughts:
    This is my first review for Home Theater Forum. Velvet Redux was an interesting selection for my debut. Although I had a slight familiarity with Lou Reed, I approached the endeavor pretty empty of any significant knowledge of what to expect. I would be lying if I said that this will be one of my favorite DVDs but it interested and entertained me more than I expected. I will certainly play it again. I only wish the 13-year-old film were to 21st century production standards. My overall rating for the DVD is 3 of 5 stars – an average rating because of the substandard audio and video production qualities (perhaps I’m jaded.)
     
  2. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    Welcome, Jeffrey!

    Sorry that the Velvet Underground DVD was less than stellar, but it at least serves as a document of that tour.

    Funny you mention the Heads... Stop Making Sense is my favorite concert movie, and I'm awaiting delivery on the Talking Heads Brick--DualDisc remasters of their catalog.

    - Steve
     
  3. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Yeah, thanks for the review. I am admittedly a fan of the original VU, sure wouldn't mind seeing a good music DVD of them in the '60's too.

    I have a "trial" Talking Heads DD (MSABAF) coming shortly, just to see how it works out on my players before springing for the whole Brick. With New York area music, IMO, it's very easy to trace genealogy, a large scene with large influence that just happens to be very much to my taste.

    Edit: I hope making "requests" of a reviewer isn't *too* rude.

    I don't know if you get to choose subjects, but Rush R30 might be a fairly recent interesting one if you can. Anyway, welcome to the ranks of the reviewers![​IMG]
     
  4. Tom Rhea

    Tom Rhea Second Unit

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  5. Scott David

    Scott David Stunt Coordinator

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    Indeed she is. And still very much alive. [​IMG]
     
  6. JeffreyDurbin

    JeffreyDurbin Auditioning

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    Thanks for correcting me on the whole Maureen Tucker thing. I don't know what I was smoking last night. LOL.

    Let me make another point. I do think this DVD is worth renting if you have any interest whatsoever in the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed or some of the influences on the punk and new wave movements. On the other hand, I think the only people who would want to buy the DVD are the true believers.
     
  7. Steve.P

    Steve.P Agent

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    I think you mean Sterling Morrison. Sterling Moss was a racecar driver.

    Without wanting to get on your case or anything - this is, after all, your first review - you might want to double-check your facts at, say, AllMusic.com before submitting your final reviews. I remember one enthusiastic young writer at the magazine I work for writing a preview of legendary pre-punk provocateurs The MC5. Somehow the editor missed it, and the piece came out a glowing recommendation of the skills of, erm, Marshall Crenshaw. To quote Morrissey, "There's always someone, somewhere, with a big nose who knows."

    Back to The Velvet Underground: it's hard to get excited about a mediocre film documenting a mediocre tour. I saw the opening night at the Edinburgh Playhouse, and while it was a thrill to see all four original members onstage at the same time, there was little energy between them. Relations between Reed and Cale at the time were notoriously frosty, and Reed later admitted that he only did it for the dying Morrison. That said, Moe Tucker was a joy to the ears.

    All in all, you got it about right. One for the faithful only.
     
  8. JeffreyDurbin

    JeffreyDurbin Auditioning

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    I came back to this thread to post a clarification and instead found out about my Fruedian slip on Sterling Morrison and Sterling Moss. You are right about Moss. I actually read a bio of him. Maybe that was the impetus for the subconscious error.

    I did in fact read the AllMusic guide before writing the review but clearly missed a couple points. (I doubt it would have helped me on the Moss/Morrison glitch. That required a 2 x 4 to the forehead. LOL.)

    To get to my clarification, as I was throwing away the cover letter from the promotional people over the weekend, I noticed it said that the DVD had remastered audio in 5.1 surround. I went back and tried to engage Dolby Digital on my pre-amp and could not do it. (It should automatically kick in anyway.) Furthermore, I re-examined the DVD case and there is no indication of Dolby Digital (or DTS for that matter). I stand by my comments in the review that it is a stereo release. Perhaps the promo people were a bit overzealous in their claims.

    It's not a BAD DVD. Just one that is good to rent instead of own. In fact, I kind of enjoyed hearing a few tunes again while I fiddled with trying to get Dolby Digital.
     
  9. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    I picked this up mainly to replace the VHS copy. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but do remember enjoying it. While it is a little detached, it doesn't sound much different than the earlier live recordings I've heard from the 60's/70's, other than a great sound coming from players who are pretty much at their peak of performing. It's also interesting to hear Cale's influence on tracks that he had not played on from "Velvet Underground" and "Loaded".

    for the casual, it's worth checking out, but I would recommend it to the fans, despite no apparant remastering. It appears to be priced right (I got mine for $16). I'm biased though, as the 2 disc CD release was my intro to VU in the first place.
     
  10. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Brian Eno did not even have an album credit until 2-3 years after the Velvet Underground broke up. He did work with John Cale and Nico in the 70s, though.

    Regards,
     
  11. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Welcome aboard, Jeffrey! Congrats on a very nice first effort. I am a big collector of music DVDs and look forward to reading your reviews.
     

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