Picks and Pans Review: Songs for Drella

updated 06/25/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/25/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Lou Reed and John Cale

It was shortly after Andy Warhol's funeral two years ago that these former Velvet Underground co-founders set aside their long-standing differences to compose a tribute to the pink-eyed papa of Pop art.

In those early, underground, mid-'60s days, Warhol served as both mentor and manager of the prototype art-rock band, whose signature sound was forcing amplifier feedback from their guitars, violas and synthesizers into a steady, heady drone.

What Reed and Cale have come up with is an elegant, ironic musical treatment of some of the more famous passages from Warhol's highly spotlighted life. From his "Smalltown" beginnings in Pittsburgh, Pa., to the headlines announcing Warhol's death with POP GOES POP ARTIST in the final number "Hello It's Me," the song cycle jolts, jars and cajoles. What emerges is a portrait of Warhol that is by turn mocking, affectionate, sly and sincere.

As in their earlier collaborations, Reed gets in the first and last words, with Cale supplying his arch, ethereal and quite beautiful enunciations on such tracks as the dreamily hip "Style It Takes" and the insistent, near-whispered 'Trouble With Classicists."

Reed's more streetwise delivery asserts itself on such tracks as "Open House," which commemorates the Warhol Factory lifestyle. Sings Reed of Warhol's famous voyeurism: "I like lots of people around me but don't kiss hello and please don't touch."

Simply and stylishly, Reed and Cale have created a black velvet valentine to Warhol, whose nickname, a combination of Cinderella and Dracula, inspired the work's title. While Drella is billed as "a fiction," it has the intimacy and urgency of memories enlivened by the occasional loathing, admiration and maybe even love they had for their old Pop art patron. (Sire)

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