110

Puttin On The Ritz: White Light White Heat

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Puttin On The Ritz: White Light White Heat It is rumored that the total lack of beauty on the original version of the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat (Verve, 1968) widened the rift between violist, John Cale—a primary architect of the band—to such an extent that he left the band. Nothing can come, however, even remotely close to the ugly beauty of Puttin' on the Ritz's version of the seminal album from the band that Andy Warhol cofounded with Cale and Lou Reed. BJ Rubin and Kevin Shea have crafted a new re-imagining with fabulous detail, but a lot more ferocity and angst than Reed's almost gentle version, despite the use of similar techniques of acoustic feedback, distortion and plain noise from something as innocuous as a tambourine.

But the defining moments on this recreation come from vocalist, Rubin whose searing vocals are a cross between a primordial cry and the wail of a dying man on "White Light/White Heat," that propulsive track about the effects of amphetamines. "The Gift" features the laconic narration of a seemingly abstract short story, while the contrapuntal music comes at acute angles to the vocal, with Moppa Elliott's slamming bass lines, Nate Wooley's wailing trumpet, Sam Kulik's smearing trombone, and a wild romp on tenor saxophone by Jon Irabagon. In fact the saxophonist is the chief instigator, playing a perfect foil to Rubin's vocals that swing from swaggering and bold to tentative and nervy. On "Lady Godiva's Operation," Rubin sings like blue murder, almost as if the surgery on Godiva takes a turn south. Once again, Irabagon, together with Wooley, instigate Rubin into a kind of hypnotic, self-destructive final note of the song. And so on, until the seemingly interminable verses of "Sister Ray," who brandishes her sexuality like a trashy yet honest flag of existentialism, which flow from Rubin with Joyce-ian stream-of-consciousness.

When the Velvet Underground's album was first released in the late 1960s, the music reflected a deep rift between Warhol's generation and the older establishment. Velvet Underground and groups like it poured vomit-like scorn on a generation that exercised a sort of control on its freewheeling bohemianism, smacking of Haight-Ashbury's hippie culture. In today's context, the subliminal suggestions of the album are a lot more sinister, coming as it does during a period of abject denial of the collapse of the capitalist excess, be it in terms of sexuality, discrimination and racism, homophobia and ultra-conservatism.

In a well-produced dead ringer for the original album package, Hot Cup Records has once more come up with a winning combination of design and musical creativity that defies convention and scores with a wonderful combination of seriousness and black humor.


Track Listing: White Light White Heat; The Gift; Lady Godiva's Operation; Here She Comes Now; I Heard Her Call My Name; Sister Ray.

Personnel: BJ Rubin: vocals; Kevin Shea: percussion, vocals; Matthew "Moppa" Elliott: bass, vocals; Jon Irabagon: saxophone; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Sam Kulik: trombone, bass trombone; Matt Mottel: Turkish organ.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Hot Cup Records


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Books On Tape, Vol. 2 - Standard Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Books On Tape, Vol. 2 - Standard Edition
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "Instant Oats" CD/LP/Track Review Instant Oats
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 18, 2016
Read "Dick's Picks Volume Two: Columbus, Ohio 10/31/1971" CD/LP/Track Review Dick's Picks Volume Two: Columbus, Ohio 10/31/1971
by Doug Collette
Published: February 27, 2016
Read "Montréal" CD/LP/Track Review Montréal
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Old Door Phantoms" CD/LP/Track Review Old Door Phantoms
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 5, 2016
Read "Petal" CD/LP/Track Review Petal
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 6, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!