Don't Be a Penguin


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Don't Be a Penguin Review

by Jack Rabid

When most people think of the Velvet Underground, they think of Lou Reed or John Cale. I think of Maureen Tucker. Her primitive late-'60s thump-beat drumming was an amazing innovation, as much what set the Velvets apart as Reed's talk-singing and lurid lyrical matter or Cale's drones (and what a pioneer she was playing in an otherwise male band). However, Tucker's stickwork has been a rarity since the group split. Sharp-eyed fans have gobbled up her solo LPs on tiny labels, from 1981's Playin' Possum to 1994's bubbling Dogs Under Stress. But outside of the Velvets' 1993 reunion live LP, Live MCMXCIII, she's mostly stuck to guitar and vocals on her records. So it's surprising, welcome news that Washington D.C. singer/songwriter Mark Goodman coaxed Tucker out of studio-drumming retirement for this Magnet album. Tucker loved a tape Goodman mailed her, so the mother of five traveled from her Savannah, GA, home to her old stomping grounds, New York, to record with him last year. Her floor-tom-flavored rhythm is an unmistakable pleasure, as Goodman's nice, raw voice and scratchy, busy, soloing guitar adds a diversified pop dimension to a Velvets-like pulse on cuts such as "Julie." Tucker also reprises her horribly charming "Afterhours" voice on "Summer and Winter," a real favorite thanks to her and Goodman's seductiveness in tandem, and she also does spoken word on the title track. Everything you liked about the "Beginning to See the Light" and "There She Goes Again" Velvets is here, and that's saying a lot.

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