Less a proper DVD release than an added-value reason to purchase their new disc of pared-down versions of older material, Bettie Serveert's Bare Stripped Naked is a tough sell even to hardcore fans. It's a modest package, featuring a small semi-acoustic club show shot in Brussels in January, behind-the-scenes footage of the core members in the studio, a super-arty slide show set to ambient tuneage and a goofy sequence of the band dicking around on tour that matches their song Roadmovies to a nice Super-8 aesthetic. Unfortunately, the whole thing just made me feel kinda sad.
The problem with Bettie Serveert is that they released one seminal album, Palomine, back in 92, and it broke 'em as big as they were ever gonna get. Palomine epitomized their aesthetic (Carol van Dijk's Chrissie Hynde-lite vocals cutting through swaths of crunchy-sweet guitars and hectic percussion, or floating dreamily through razor-edged ballads), snagged them a Matador deal and landed them choice college rock tours. But most people don't even realize they still exist -- let alone have steadily put out discs since the disappointing follow-up, Lamprey. So it's hard to get excited about the revised arrangements on Bare Stripped Naked (both the CD and DVD portions), save for the introspective banjo take on Tom Boy and the group's decent cover of Bright Eyes' Lover I Don't Have To Love. Never a dynamic band live, the Betties also commit a grave error that will annoy their non-Belgian fans. English speakers have to work to get jazzed about a low-key live show where all the inter-song chatter is in another language. On the other hand, considering that most North Americans forgot about Bettie Serveert in 1995, I suppose their fan base is generally centred in Europe.