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Live MCMXCIII

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Live MCMXCIII (1993)

by The Velvet Underground

About this title: If you stepped out on your back porch one morning and saw Pegasus contentedly munching your crabgrass shortly before taking flight, you'd sound a bit churlish if you pointed out that his figure-eight was not perfectly executed. Similarly, in 1992 the prospect of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker burying the collective hatchet and mounting a concert tour as the Velvet Underground seemed only marginally more likely than the previous scenario, so perhaps the most remarkable thing about this live document of the briefly reunited VU performing for a wildly enthusiastic crowd in Paris is that it exists at all. Anyone hoping for a hi-fi re-creation of this band's astounding 1966-1968 live shows is pretty much out of luck; Live MCMXCIII is short on exploration of the outer limits of noise, and long on tightly paced songs, with all of the "hits" featured prominently. What's more, Reed often seems to be having a hard time with his vocals, Cale's singing makes him sound like an especially pretentious veteran of the Old Vic, and Morrison should have spent a bit more time wood-shedding before taking the stage for the first time in two decades. But when they come together, with Tucker's always-steady beat behind them, something remarkable happens -- they become the Velvet Underground, perhaps older and a bit worse for wear, but still sounding like one of the greatest rock bands of all time, and when the spirit is with them, they can still make the earth shake. Neophytes and the casually interested should check out 1969: Velvet Underground Live instead, but for longtime fans, Live MCMXCIII is an enjoyable and unexpectedly moving performance, as four of rock's unsung heroes take one last stroll through the songs that made them belatedly famous...and finally get the ovations they deserve. [Live MCMXCIII is available in three forms -- a double-disc set, an edited single disc, and a limited edition single-disc package. Because it features a full concert, the double-disc set is preferable.] ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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