Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bettie Serveert - Pharmacy Of Love

Bettie Serveert will always hold a place in my heart for releasing Palomine a million years ago. The record was a soundtrack to the early days of my first "adult" relationship. A cassette (yep) I snagged from her (a gift from the guy who would eventually become my first NYC roommate) had Palomine on one side and Buffalo Tom's Let Me Come Over on the other. As luck would have it, Bettie opened up for Buffalo Tom on that same tour. I saw one of the first dates of that tour at Irving and they pretty much leveled the crowd from the get-go. Guitarist Peter Visser was on fire from the drop, and had Buffalo Tom not been at the top of their game at that point, it could have been pretty ugly for the boys from Amherst. Carol van Dyk has a distinctive velvety warmth to her voice, reserved but always cutting through walls of guitar. The Velvet Underground influences have always been worn on their sleeves, and there was even an all-Velvet limited thing in Europe recently, but the Bettie Serveert take is a much louder one.

Post-Palomine, Bettie oscillated in and out of my radar through the odd writing promo list or cut-out bin trawl. In investigating the JS-NYC archives, I have all of their seven subsequent releases, as well as the two wonderful Chitlin Fooks records and can identify high points on all of them, it's a wonder they haven't got more play, especially after their wonderful Bare Stripped Naked CD/DVD set they released a while ago. Just not enough hours in the day, I guess. Once again, with the release of Pharmacy Of Love, I have vowed to dedicate more recreational listening time to Bettie Serveert. All of the aforementioned things that make the band wonderful are still in evidence. The quieter moments are pretty and soothing, the louder fare bracing in its Neil Young meets J. Mascis splendor. Get everything you need Bettie-wise here, and add Bettie Serveert and Pharmacy Of Love to the increasingly long list of reasons why Holland has us way outclassed.


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