Score: 3.75 out of 5 Grackles

Various – I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico


Various – I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico

Record Label: Verve

Release Date: September 24, 2021

Presumably held up to coincide with Todd Haynes’ excellent VU doc, Mirror works fairly well as these things go. On the final project of producer Hal Willner, an early victim of COVID, artists revisit the tracks from the Velvet’s 1967 debut in order. The ‘uneven’ label should be part of every tribute album’s title, and Willner, famed for his unusual pairings of artists and material, bats about .400 here. You root for the inspired pairings of Bobby Gillespie and Thurston Moore (“Heroin”) and Matt Sweeney and Iggy Pop (“European Son”), but both get lost after promising starts, trudging on for several more minutes. Sharon Van Etten’s dirge-like “Femme Fatale” falls way flat, and Matt Berninger taking on “Waiting For My Man” is the album’s biggest head-scratcher. He adds nothing to the song, and worse, it strains credulity.  Most of the rest is worth a listen. St. Vincent gives an art-school remake to “Parties”, Michael Stipe does his best Michael Stipe, and Kurt Vile’s “Run Run Run” is as much fun as anything here. The two standouts are polar opposites, the wondrous chaos of “Black Angel’s Death Song” from Fontaines DC, and Courtney Barnett’s dry-spoken delivery on  “I’ll Be Your Mirror”, which is either plaintive or sardonic. As if it matters. – Jeff McCord