Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Birds - Let's Do The Velvets!

(Important, 2005)

Those responsible for DOING THE VELVETS here are Cotton Casino, from Acid Mothers Temple, and a guy named Per Gisle Galaen, from parts unknown. While a full album did follow, the single’s pair of homey, safe covers pretty much screams “side project”... and that’s fine, but it’s hard to recommend this record too heartily to anyone outside of VU fetishists and Acid Mothers completists. Both songs are competently performed, and have a fragility to them that is a nice contrast to the usual rawk ’n’ grime that folks like to associate with the Velvet Underground catalog. No reason to get excited though; these aren’t radical rethinks or revelatory interpretations. It’s pleasant, and that’s about it.

Cotton Casino, like Nico before her, doesn’t have the world’s greatest English, which is a little distracting on “Femme Fatale,” where the vocals are right up front. But credit the Birds for putting together a solid musical arrangement on this one: a churchy keyboard picks out the chords, and a noisy guitar comes sweeping in towards the end, adding Cale-esque texture and volume. “Here She Comes Now” sticks close enough to the original to largely render itself pointless, though it does have a more psychedelic, droning feel that serves the song well. There are no real complaints to be made about this disc, but, in the end, there’s just not enough here to convince me that I should be listening to The Birds’ versions rather than my old VU records. You know?

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