Lou Reed Steve Simels - Essay

Steve Simels

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Much as Lou would probably prefer it, the Underground just won't go away. And frankly, if you feel (as I do) that Lou has been generally making an ass out of himself since their demise, and that "Animal" was just too slick a presentation of songs that walk a thin line between being moronic and sublimely terrifying, then you're going to dig the hell out of ["1969 Velvet Underground Live"]. I certainly do….

So what do we get? Most of the band's best numbers, some previously unrecorded gems featuring Lou at his most corny and charming (Over You) and some early thoughts on tunes later resurrected on the solo albums. The results are by and large incandescent….

The lesson of all this is that Lou Reed is (was?) one of the great rock singer/songwriters, and that in the Velvet Underground he found the perfect musical means to express his not inconsiderable ideas. This new set is a gas, one of the best live rock albums of this or any other year, and if it's not quite as good as "Loaded" (the band's penultimate studio statement, where their raunch was even more completely distilled) it's damn close, and that's saying something. If your only exposure to Lou has been his increasingly disappointing post-Velvet work, then "1969 Velvet Underground Live" will come as a remarkable surprise. If you're already a fan, I don't have to tell you. For both factions, as well as those who just like first-rate rock-and-roll, the bottom line is get it. (p. 74)

Steve Simels, "Throwing Some Light on the Velvet Underground," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1974 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 33, No. 2, August, 1974, pp. 73-4.