The Feelies: Some Kinda Love: Performing the Music of The Velvet Underground

On October 13, 2018, presented in conjunction with The Velvet Underground Experience, an art and music exhibition that took place in New York City that year, The Feelies performed a thirty-seven-song set in front of a sold-out crowd at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, New Jersey, the first eighteen songs of which were covers of Velvet Underground classics from the influential band’s catalog between the years of 1967 and 1970. Five years later, all eighteen VU songs from that performance have been collected and pressed up by Bar None Records as The Feelies’ live double album Some Kinda Love: Performing the Music of The Velvet Underground.

Those already intimately familiar with the Velvet’s catalog will immediately recognize the liberties the Haledon, New Jersey band took with the source material. Appropriately, “Sunday Morning”, the first VU song many Velvet Underground fans heard due to it being the lead off track on the band’s 1967 debut, opens the set. The celesta lead here is a bit different than the original, and The Feelies change the lyrics of the chorus from “watch out, the world’s behind you” to “watch out, the world surrounds you”, but the single word revision works because it creates a rhyme with the song’s next line, “there’s always someone around you who will call”.

The Feelies don’t stick to any sort of chronological order from song to song, jumping from favorites that appeared on VU’s 1967 debut, to 1970’s Loaded, back to the debut, then to the perky “What Goes On” from their self-titled third studio album released in 1969. The band adds an additional half minute to the beloved “Sweet Jane” and the crowd is audibly appreciative. The Feelies shave a minute off “I Heard Her Call My Name” but add an organized slickness to the guitar intro, a characteristic omitted from the Velvet’s chaotic original version.

Feelies’ bassist Brenda Sauter picks up the vocal duties on both “After Hours”, a song originally sung by VU drummer Maureen Tucker, and “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, originally sung by the Velvet’s sometimes vocal collaborator, Nico. Both songs are included in the set’s second half. By the time the band launches into the fiery “Rock & Roll”, The Feelies have already performed a full album’s worth of material, but the group is just getting started. As if he’s experiencing a second wind, lead singer Glenn Mercer’s vocal delivery here is both exuberant and ecstatic. “We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together” is one of only two songs (the other being “I Can’t Stand It”, a song on which The Feelies are joined by Bongos’ member James Mastro for additional guitar and vocals) in this collection that never appeared on a proper VU studio album. Regardless, both songs work well in this set. The Feelies add their own touch to “Run Run Run”, bringing their signature jangle to the verses and choruses in between wild, appropriately fuzzed-out lead guitar solos.

The set of Velvet Underground covers is concluded with the best song in the legendary group’s catalog, “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’”. Bongos’ frontman, Richard Barone, joins The Feelies here, adding his vocals for the epic seven and a half minute closer. All told, The Feelies deliver a heartfelt tribute to this most beloved band. The songs picked from The Velvet Underground’s exceptional catalog, the sequence they’re played in, and the passion exhibited in the performance prove that, while The Feelies may not be the first band you think of when you fantasize about a rock group you’d want to hear play these songs live, but after experiencing this performance, you understand how important the Velvets are to Mercer and company and how, almost fifty years after Lou Reed left VU to start a solo career, The Feelies were the perfect band to honor The Velvet Underground in this way.

Rating: 9.0/10

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