I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute To The Velvet Underground Review

Story posted September 28, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Jon Mead.

The Velvet Underground is hands down one of the most influential rock bands in history, with many early artists like Iggy Pop and Jonathan Richman considering them a major influence.

Bands and musicians from different subgenres of rock also give credit to the group for the complete development of their sound, from the early punk scene to shoegaze, garage, indie and alternative.

Its themes of drug use, deviance and sexuality were nothing like what was being produced at the time, with its almost “shocking” and “unheard of” lyrics displayed in one of their most staple albums, “The Velvet Underground and Nico,” released in 1967.

This influence and impact on the modern music scene has stretched out for decades and this is exemplified with the release of “I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground and Nico.”

This newly released work, produced by founding member and legendary musician John Cale, delivers an experience that is a fun kickback to that classic 60s sound, decorated with the originality of modern-day indie artists.

Each musician was tasked with producing a cover of one song from “The Velvet Underground and Nico.” The list of people that comprise this album are: Michael Stipe (REM), Matt Berninger (the National), Sharon Van Etten, Andrew Bird/ Lucius, Kurt Vile, St. Vincent/ Thomas Bartlett, Thurston Moore/ Bobby Gillespie, King Princess, Courtney Barnett, Fontaines D.C. and Iggy Pop/Matt Sweeney.

Michael Stipe’s cover of “Sunday Morning” was orchestral, electronic and a little more downtempo than the original track. Although lacking a lot of that grit from the original song fans will find this cover to be worth the listen.

Matt Berninger from the National also makes a very surprising appearance on this album, covering “I’m Waiting for the Man,” with his signature deep, groaning vocals. Van Etten’s cover of “Femme Fatale” would definitely be described as her own, but also takes a more downtempo turn along with Stipe’s.

The “Venus in Furs” cover is probably one of the most impressive instrumentally, with its beautifully plucked string melodies.

The two song covers that truly retain that wild spirit and atmosphere, while also remaining original, are “Run Run Run” by Kurt Vile and “There She Goes Again” by King Princess. Vile’s brings a more garage-sounding style to the table, while King Princess delivers an impressive performance that is more indie rock and reminiscent of Lou Reed’s singing.

Fans of proto-punk and hard rock will be amazed to see that Iggy Pop also contributes with his take on “European Son.” Unlike other artists on this LP, Iggy keeps it harsh and rough with his signature vocal style, an absolute respect to Reed.

Overall, this album takes the cake as one of the most well-done tribute albums recently released, an excellent commemoration to Lou Reed who passed away in 2013.

This also serves as a great opportunity for newcomers to the Velvet Underground to delve into some of the greatest works that rock has to offer.

Rating: 8/10


Jon Mead is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jkm6040@psu.edu.

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