The Feelies connection to the Velvet Underground goes long and deep. As gawky teenagers, Glenn Mercer and Bill Millions put VU on the same tier as the Beatles. Their jittery, drone-y, laconically delivered Crazy Rhythms sounded like no one else, except possibly the Velvets. The band covered “What Goes On” on their 1988 album Only Life, and, about the same time, got a chance to play a show with Lou Reed at the Orpheum Theatre in New York City. Reed himself once told Bill Millions that the Feelies were the only band that ever “got” the Velvet Underground.
The point is that the Feelies weren’t coming to this unprepared. No, they had, in some ways, been training for it all their lives when they turned up at the White Eagle Hall in Jersey City in October 2018. Some Kinda Love was recorded at that gig, tracking the Feelies’ love and understanding of one of rock’s most influential bands over two discs and 18 songs. It’s a blast.
The Feelies takes on some of the Velvet’s best known songs—and some rarities—in performances full of joy. Bassist Brenda Sauter does her best wide-eyed, spaced out version of Nico in the luminous, drum-thwacked “All Tomorrow’s Parties” while Mercer channels the nervy dissolution and guitar slash of “I’m Waiting for the Man.” The whole band rages exhilaratingly in “White Light/White Heat” and “Rock N Roll.” Their set spans the length and breadth of VU history (though not in order), starting with “Sunday Morning” from the 1967 debut and ending several line-ups later with “Oh! Sweet Nuthin” from their final studio album. You can hear enough of the crowd to know that everybody’s having a good time, though, perhaps no one more so than the Feelies, who exult in the knotty, prickly, propulsion of these songs.
In the end, it’s a lovely tip of the hat from one history-making band to another. Whether you come to it out of love for the Feelies or allegiance to the Velvets, you’ll find that it’s kind of the same thing, two close, illustrious cousins in the rock and roll family tree. | j kelly