Album of the Week: 1969: The Velvet Underground Live

I’m not always a fan of live albums, depending on the talent or passion of the artists a lot can be lost from studio to stage. Even with a band as great as the Velvet Underground, a few of their best songs just don’t translate outside of the studio, like Lady Godiva’s Operation. Overall though, The Velvet Underground and later Lou Reed in his solo work have great presence and passion, and I generally prefer most of their live work to their albums. Heroin especially thrives on this album, truly besting the version that can be found on The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967).

Also worth noting is that, starting September 25th, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will be opening their exihibition on Andy Warhol entitled “Music and dance in Andy Warhol’s work“. I’m a huge fan of his work, and will probably see this within it’s first week, in spite of the potential crowds. His famous portraits will be included, as well as album art, illustrations, etc. Some of his films will also be featured, including his screen tests of the Velvet Underground.  It’s easy to forget Warhol’s play in the complete freedom that he allowed the young New York artists who became the Velvet Underground, as well as his introduction of Nico to the band. I wouldn’t rule out Chelsea Girls being an album of the week in the future.

Album (s) of the Week

It’s almost an understatement to call this the album(s) of the week, as it’s probably my favourite album all around. I never get tired of Baez’s voice, and the simplicity of her using just a single guitar. There is a song for every mood, from folk to contemporary. Decades after they were released, theys still pack an emotional and political punch. It’s difficult not to be inspired by her renditions  of protests songs like “What Have They Done to the Rain”, or moved to tears by beautiful traditional ballads like “Matty Groves” (my favourite track, unfortunately unavailable on youtube).

In place of Matty Groves, here is my second favourite off the double album, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You“. Led Zeppelin’s version may be more famous, but it can’t hold a candle to Baez’s.

On the Town (Donen & Kelly, 1949)

I love a good old fashioned musical, and while On the Town is far from one of the best, it still packs a punch. Having seen both Kelly’s and Donen’s later work, like Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris, this feels like an exercise. The film feels like a model of An American in Paris, the same simple story, the same affectionate portrayal of a city, and the same extended ballet sequence. They all pale in comparison to the later work, but that does not diminish the quality and energy of the performers.

Though, there is no doubt that Sinatra is a talented singer, he cannot hold his own against Kelly’s magnetism and masculinity. The film is sold because he manages to make a song and dance affair masculine. It’s perhaps his greatest asset as a dancer, and why he edges out Fred Astaire as a favourite dancer among most modern audiences. He’s rippling with muscles, choosing dance moves that highlight his athleticism… he always makes sure to have a good number of pelvic thrusts too, not that I’m paying that close attention… but they’re there, yea. They’re nice.

The music itself, is on the weak side, despite it’s iconic number, “New York, New York“. I did enjoy the “Prehistoric Man” sequence, mostly because of the sexual energy of Ann Miller. I’ve never been particularly fond of her, but she proves here she’s a force to be reckoned with. On the politically correct side, this is the first of many sequences that’s really problematic. I’m usually very forgiving, but this film does push some limits that become irksome. What surprises me more, in my mind, envisioning a remake I don’t see them cutting out any of it… strange way the world works I guess.

The next step in my musical journey will probably be Minnelli’s (a more competent director than Donen) Brigadoon. At the very least it will be opulent and beautiful, one thing that lacked in On the Town. The creativity and adventurousness of making a musical on location is admirable, but as a first entry, it doesn’t quite hit the mark. The melding of magic, reality and technical facets don’t quite work together yet.

More Music: Metric

I’ve been listening to a lot of Metric this past week, one of my favourite current acts, I saw them live last year at Concordia University and it was the most fun I had in a long time. My favourite album of theirs is Live it Out, but they all have their gems.  Their music is positively infectious, they also know how to get a crowd going.  I still need to get around to checking out Emily Haines’ solo work.


Album of the Day

This is more than me just getting lazy, I’m having computer problems and have very limited internet time. Hopefully this will mean a bit more time to watch movies for me, I’m already listening to more music. This kind of entry is short and sweet… so no stress if it doesn’t go through, and it only takes a few minutes a day. I hope you guys don’t mind!

A good friend of mine introduced me to Tegan and Sara over a year ago, but I’ve only recently went back to listen to their music again. It’s nifty-fun, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re Canadian and kinda cute.

Click on the album to go to their MySpace