Moe Tucker

I'm Sticking With You: An Introduction to Moe Tucker

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Lou Reed and John Cale may have been the brains behind the Velvet Underground, but in a very real way, Moe Tucker was the heart. Her drumming was primal and passionate, and though Reed's poetic sensibility and Cale's avant-garde inclinations could easily have made their music sound coolly cerebral, the beating heart Tucker brought to the music lent the Velvet Underground a warmth and humanity that made their stories of life in the demimonde all the more realistic and moving. Tucker's approach to the drums reflected the musical personality that came through in her solo recordings; even when she was playing guitar or sax instead of percussion, her work was easily recognizable by its simplicity, heart, and lack of guile. In Tucker's hands, music was a sublimely human creation, and that tone dominated Sundazed Records' 2012 career retrospective I Feel So Far Away: Anthology 1974-1998, which provided a thorough overview of her solo work. Sundazed's affiliated Modern Harmonic label has now issued I'm Sticking with You: An Introduction to Moe Tucker, a compact variant on that release compiled with a single LP in mind. At a mere nine songs, I'm Sticking with You covers a lot less ground, and it shies away from Tucker's work as a songwriter. Five of the selections are Tucker's remakes of songs from her tenure with the Velvet Underground, along with covers of two '60s chestnuts (Chuck Berry's "Around and Around" and the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?") and two originals that pay homage to fallen comrades ("Andy," about Andy Warhol, and "Last Night," which she wrote after the death of VU guitarist Sterling Morrison). The track selection makes the balance of the material feel a little curious, but ultimately the performances are satisfying throughout. The plain-spoken effect of Tucker's voice put a new and different spin on "Heroin" and "I'm Waiting for the Man," and the wallop of her drumming on "Guess I'm Falling in Love" (with Jad Fair on lead vocals) is joyous. And though the choice of originals shortchanges the range of Tucker's songwriting, in both cases she captured her love for her friends and her sense of loss in their passing with a homey dignity and wisdom. Calling I'm Sticking with You "An Introduction to Moe Tucker" is apt, since it only scratches the surface of her under-appreciated post-VU recordings. But it's just enough to convey what makes her music so memorable, and this is a wonderful 45 minutes of rough-hewn beauty and soul.

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