Various Artists: I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico (Verve) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, December 7th, 2021  

Various Artists

I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico

Verve

Oct 20, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


With the understanding that its featured tracks are reinterpretations as opposed to covers, I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico is two or three genuinely commendable efforts from being drab, discordant, and ultimately disappointing.

While the notion of a Velvet Underground & Nico tribute compilation is in itself a tall order, one cannot help but feel that source material such as this is deserving of a bit more than is offered. Boasting a diverse roster of appropriately skilled and successful contributors, I’ll Be Your Mirror should have been exactly as it was billed—a charming tribute crafted by like-minded admirers of the band and its epochal 1967 masterpiece. The final product, however, feels far less adoring and a bit more indulgent.

With its 11 tracks presented in the same order as on the original, I’ll Be Your Mirror begins with avant-garde superstar Michael Stipe’s intriguing take on “Sunday Morning.” Stipe, whose own influential group covered a few Velvet Underground tracks in its day, replaces the original’s dreamy celesta with strings and electronic twinkles, sounding exactly as one might imagine Michael Stipe covering The Velvet Underground would—and, unlike many of the collection’s featured artists, he sounds entirely at home in doing so.

Other positive aspects include Sharon Van Etten’s stirring reworking of fan favorite “Femme Fatale,” which retains the original’s balmy melancholia, while featuring Van Etten’s own slowed-down, fuzzed-out touch—her low, mournful vocals not dissimilar to those of Nico five decades prior. The same can be said of Kurt Vile’s rendition of “Run Run Run.” Like Stipe and Van Etten, Vile seems naturally adept at translating The Velvet Underground’s music, as though its blend of hard rocking bizarro grit and unabashed artiness courses naturally through his veins.

Elsewhere, lesser entries such as Matt Berninger’s “I’m Waiting for the Man” and King Princess’ “There She Goes Again” fall short, functioning as songs in their own rights, but lacking the energy of the originals. Being that he is responsible for the conception of Screamadelica, Bobby Gillespie has earned every right to take a stab at “Heroin,” which, alongside Thurston Moore, he does. Their version works, but sounds far too similar to the original.
All in all, I’ll Be Your Mirror can be skipped by even the most devoted fans. It may be worth returning to The Velvet Underground’s legendary discography instead, especially for uninitiated listeners. (www.ververecords.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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