Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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THE VELVET UNDERGROUND
Live at Max's Kansas City (Deluxe Edition)
Atlantic/Rhino

A last-ditch product of 1972 becomes a you-are-there keepsake of 2004

Recorded in notorious lo-fi from the table of Andy Warhol hanger-on Brigid Polk in 1970, Lou Reed's last Velvets show until 1993 is one of the few collector's items to gain patina with the remastered, bonus-cutted, double-disc overkill of the CD era. Although the basic effect is still that of hearing a band from the back of a noisy bar, the audio is crisper and more forceful. Although original bassist/viola player John Cale and drummer Mo Tucker are gone, Reed does sing songs performed in their official studio versions by Nico and auxiliary member Doug Yule. And although Live 1969 remains the essential document, it is cool to hear Polk's buddies chatting obliviously about Richard Nixon and Tuinols as punk's forefathers go gamely into that good night.

Blender, Aug. 2004