Assorted scribblings of a dog-eared music journalist

Melody Maker | Album | 10 November 1990


There can't be many bands around today who wouldn't cite The Velvet Underground as a major musical influence.

Most of those appearing on "Heaven And Hell", the latest in Imaginary's increasingly perverse series of covers compilations, have certainly done so. But as Lou Reed noted earlier this year, although a lot of artists have tried to copy the darker side of the Velvets, few seem to appreciate the underlying humour of some of their songs or understand that the acerbity and squalor were often simply part of the search for the ultimate thrill. 

"Sunday Morning" is one of the Velvets' most enchanting songs, so much so that it is almost a lullaby, and the
JAMES version is the best track on this LP. The trumpet bumps up the melody and Tim Booth's improvisation with lyrics from "Sweet Jane", "Heroin" and "I'm Waiting For The Man" at the close is a crafty touch. The lines from Dillinger's "Cocaine In My Brain" work well too. Other highlights come from NIRVANA and BUFFALO TOM, who put their own unmistakeable marks on "Here She Comes Now" and the speeded up "All Tomorrow's Parties", respectively.

Although the grumbling bass of
RIDE's "European Son" is worth half a house point, the other tracks here are dreadful. Former House Of Love guitarist TERRY BICKERS, teaming up with BRADLEIGH SMITH of The Prudes for "I'm Set Free", picks away to very little effect, and the inclusion of THE WEDDING PRESENT, the dullest band in the world, is a weird move. David Gedge may be taking the piss but his whispering throughout "She's My Best Friend" suggests too much reverence, while THE TELESCOPES' "Candy Says" is agonising for all the wrong reasons. 

Not nearly enough of either heaven or hell to justify a recommendation.

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