Bettie Serveert

Plays Venus in Furs and Other Velvet Underground Songs

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Tackling a touchstone like the Velvet Underground invites comparisons that aren't flattering. Carol van Dijk's bassy alto lacks the sweetness and knowing naivete that Nico brings to her tracks ("Sunday Morning," "Stephanie Says" are tackled), nor does she quite nail Reed's dark, understated swagger. The playing is pretty reverential, and the band seems hesitant to put their own stamp on the songs. In the end, Bettie Serveert sounds too much like a competent bar cover band and doesn't add enough to the musical sensibility to be anything else. At the same time, it's understood that it'd be hard to improve on the Velvets, especially after these songs have been so imprinted on the consciousness after years of loving homage that served as the basis for large swaths of alternative rock. The band does do a better job with the longer, free-flowing, less pop pieces ("Euopean Son," "Black Angel's Death Song," and "Venus in Furs"), accurately capturing the dark hypnotic tones, thanks to Peter Visser's smoldering guitar work which complements van Dijk's own smoky vocals. Indeed, the band begins to hit their stride about midway into the live set, roaring through the rocking rave "I Can't Stand It" on to "Rock'n'Roll," and the letter-perfect, appropriate closer "Afterhours."

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