Live In Seattle is a real find for fans of The Velvet Underground, what with its onstage recordings from Doug Yule, the former instrumentalist who showed up on Lou Reed's brilliant 1975 tour prior to the release of Coney Island Baby. It's also a record which vindicates the artist whose Squeeze disc on Polydor would make a wonderful Frisbee if it wasn't so rare (Yule fronted VU after Reed left the band and put out that record, which was a commercial and critical flop). Fear not! These re-workings of Velvet Underground tunes are everything that was missing from the much vaunted reunion of the band in the 1990s which resulted in The Velvet Underground Live MCMXCIII (1993). Live in Seattle's four-page booklet, accompanied by an additional eight pages -- that's 12 total, folks! -- and liner notes in Japanese as well as English, clarify just how the two shows came to be. The recording quality is surprisingly good, and two renditions of Yule's new "Beginning To Get It" are certainly the son of "Beginning To See The Light," or an existentialist extension of the philosophy espoused by Lou Reed on that nugget from the third Velvets LP. This record moves and grooves, Yule or one of the guitarists employing what sounds like an old echoplex unit adding a nice ambiance to everything. Two versions of "What Goes On" contain that wonderfully eerie bite present on these new takes, enhancing the more straightforward renditions of yore.
An hour of music from Doug Yule adds much to the legend. "Love Song," "White Devils," (with some very cool sounds and lyrics indeed!), "Two More Hands," "Rules," "After The Fall," and "Purple Mountain Glory" comprise as important a document of this artist as his new perspective on "Candy Says" and "Sweet Jane." There's a weird hidden bonus on track 12, seven minutes in to the "6:30" second version of "What Goes On." It's additional instrumental music to "What Goes On," along with an impromptu rendition of "I'm Sticking With You," featuring Moe Tucker with Doug Yule. Tucker headlined the November 4, 2000 event in Seattle where most of this was recorded, and Jennifer Yule's liner notes reveal that this performance happened near the end of Tucker's closing set. It's also available on the drummer's own Captain Trip CD, Moe Rocks Terrastock, and nice to find there as well. They did an unrehearsed duet on Tucker's very first solo 45 which featured Jonathan Richman singing Lou Reed's part on a song released years after the fact on the VU album. As Tucker told the late Sterling Morrison regarding the single, it and the fellow who released it were "the reason we're on tour." Maybe the next reunion of The Velvet Underground will feature Tucker, John Cale, Lou Reed, and Doug Yule -- if anyone needs a good argument for why that should happen, just listen to this creative and invigorating disc. It brings much to the table and is a very pleasant surprise.