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Velvet Underground has three albums just around 200 on the AM list. I thought, since I like &Nico, Transformer, and New York so much I should probably pick them up.
So I picked up White Light/White Heat. I found it boring and droning, the only redeeming aspect being some cool buzzy guitars.
Why is WL/WH so high up? Is there something about it I'm missing, or does it just get a halo effect from &Nico? If I didn't like WL/WH, should I bother with self/titled and Loaded?
Well, I'm amongst a very small minority of people who finds Loaded to be the best VU album. If you like New York, I think you'd really like Loaded which is a fairly straight-forward rock album, but a really, really, really good one.
I'm not a big fan of the s/t album. I find it a little dull at times, although it has a few good songs.
So would it be fair to say Loaded is more like Lou Reed solo stuff, and Velvet Underground is more like WL/WH?
The thing is that all four original Velvets albums are so completely different that they almost don't seem to be from the same band. WL/WH is just pure noise (legend has it that the engineers simply turned on the recording machines and left the studio for 12 hours or so), either exhilarating (my vote) or tedious depending on your proclivities; while #3 - except for the perplexing sound collage "The Murder Mystery" - is extremely low-key and heartfelt. And, as indicated, LOADED is gleaming pure-pop-for-now-people, thanks largely to the vocals and very heavy post-production hand of bassist Doug Yule (who joined on #3, and was as much a 180 from John Cale as could possibly be imagined); but Reed's songs are more than strong enough to balance the glossiness.
all 4 albums are fantastic, depends what kinda drugs you're in to
What if caffeine is where I channel my addictive personality?
well... I would say Loaded is best for you, check it.
I think Loaded is way underrated. It's not as "cool" because John Cale was gone, but it's got great material (Sweet Jane, Rock and Roll). I like it especially because a few of the songs are almost kind of countryish (Lonesome Cowboy Bill, Train Comin' Round The Bend).
Loaded has the great songs on it but it's not as cutting edge as VU + Nico or WL/WH. Those albums were light years ahead of their time while Loaded is pretty comparable to everything else that was coming out in the early 70's. It's better, but still very comparable. That said, I waver on whether I like VU + Nico or Loaded better. Both are two of the greatest albums ever. I don't like WLWH as much (although I still like it) but I think it would be hard to argue that it isn't their most influential album.
I'm actually just getting into Lou Reed's solo stuff myself, so I don't know if Loaded is indicative of any overarching trends in his solo output. I just found it to be an immediately enjoyable album. The first two certainly were the most revolutionary, but Loaded is the most fun to listen to (IMO).
I've never thought Lou Reed was comparable to the VU other than his voice. Maybe that's where the VU would have gone but it doesn't really sound like them minus a few songs on Transformer.
WL/WH "droning and boring"?? then why don't you get yourself a copy of Squeeze, sissie playsafe, and ease yourself arousedly into abyss...
... wah, Troll speech totally unrocks. no/w, seriously, nj gladly signs the posts of Harold and brennen et al, therefore Loaded seems like THE pleasant, catchy choice for you. WL/WH is a rather Get it/Get it.Not.impetus.thing. some decent proto cyberblues buzzwords though, yet only a clandestine actually-has-to-be-among--
All the cool kids listen to White Light/White Heat the most.
Be a cool kid like us.
I actually adore White Light/White Heat and don't really care for the next two very much. The third album is very tranquil for the most part, and the fourth album reminds me of The Beatles, and as I've droned on and on, I'm not a fan of the Fab Four.
i never listen to WL/WH...mainly because i like SONGWRITING
not noise...and a fucking short story?! come on...
the best thing on there is lady godiva, as horribly mixed as it is
seriously though, i tend to stick to the banana one and loaded (to be perfectly honest, as my artist poll ballot will show, i like the solo work of both reed and cale better than the VU's output, despite the fact that it was obviously more influential and ahead of its time, etc.)
i found a reason is probably my favorite VU song...new age is great too...sweet jane's a classic and i'm pretty sure every band i've ever been in has covered "rock & roll"
What "kind of drugs you are into" is irrelevant...and to even say that is blasphemy. The Velvets are valuable whether or not you are loaded.
If you really want to get a grasp of why White Light/White Heat in particular is so significant, Piero Scaruffi really sums it up best. Here is the link: http://www.scaruffi.com/vol2/velvet.html
Here's the review:
The opening title track of White Light White Heat, with its powerful intro and its rhythmic pace, is the piece that brings to perfection their hypnotic percussive boogie, the kind of frenzied bacchanal already experimented with in European Son. It's also the only cut on the album, except for the mantra Here She Comes Now, that's even reminiscent of formal song structure. In contrast, the devastating tribal dance I Heard Her Call My Name, an epileptic saraband, the claustrophobic The Gift, a colloquial discourse backed by amorphous improvised guitar distortions, and the mangled Indian-sounding Lady Godiva's Operation, are wild rides with neither head nor tail, broken up by Cale's monumental dissonance, their gloomy lullaby sustained by Tucker's maniacal beat.
All these prelude to Sister Ray, a deafening black mass, an incantation of voices and instruments in a trance, perhaps the greatest masterpiece in all of rock music. This epic snake slithers for seventeen minutes without a moment's pause, with a throbbing beat (Maureen Tucker has every the right to list herself among the best drummers in rock history), with distorted and hissing guitar phrasing comprised of vehement assaults and soft whispers in counterpoint, with the continuous electric martyrdom of Cale, and with the acutely spirited voice of a stuttering Reed, epileptic and possessed. The tremendous accelerating beat and the spasms of emotional neurosis that shatter it from top to bottom reach sound levels and emotional intensity never before accomplished in music. The snake unfolds like a long sabbath, a ritualistic dance, a happening of collective self-destruction in a continuous eruption of gasps, psychopathic spasms, perverse violence, and obsessive delirium - a pulsating heap of sounds that explode in every direction, a dissonant hurricane of such violence as to uproot the entire civilization of music, a dramatic jubilation of enraged anguish, a mystical anarchic liberation of primordial instincts, a psychoanalytic session of automatic writing, an expansion of consciousness, an ode to the chaos of the metropolis, an anthem to universal insanity.
The success of the album was inversely proportional to its greatness. The reason is not attributable to Reed's vulgar lyrics - as such taboos had long been broken - but to Cale's heavy experimentation. As a consequence, in 1968 Reed asked Cale to leave the group.
ha ha... what's that... grew tired of bugs, Fanatic don't_flame_my_band_spam_posters??
and ouuch... subsequently noise IS songwriting... as much as 4'33 seems to be... I like plunger coil microphones anyway...
"Sister Ray" is as melodic as anything.
irrelevant, maybe. blasphemy, don't be a tool.
You don't like songs for their melodies, or lyrics, or contexts, and so forth. You like them for their vibes; melodies, lyrics, contexts are how you explain vibes.
So, deciding quality, you stare at every faux pas that every song makes according to you, and decide how bad that faux pas is. And then you compare songs.
Fo' me, "Sister Ray" is great. I see few false steps in it, fewer than in most songs.
And no "false steps are the whole point" retorts. I mean the False Step as the Thing You Don't Defer To, not as the Good Bad.
Their s/t album is my favorite. It's more subdued, but still rocks in places. I'd say definitely check it out next.
Noise can sound great.
On WL/WH, the only noise that does sound great is the occasionally buzzy guitar solo, the rest is just droning random noise over tiresome repetitive songs.
Besides, cool is the new lame. Now to be cool, you have to find a way to be neither a conformist nor a nonconformist.
But that's too much work, so instead I'll just listen to what sounds good.
personally, i think that white light white heat is an astonishing album. and the banana one ain't.
there are so many flaws with the banana one - nico's got a horrible voice, the production's terrible, and there's a couple of good songs on there. most of it's a blurry viola-squeaking drug-influenced 40 minutes.
as for white light/white heat, the production's as crap, but it works perfectly. the title track is an awesome, AWESOME dancing rock 'n' roll track, the gift is an intellectual and bizarre experience, john cale's bland vocals working perfectly over the backing track, a chilled out jam with the rest of the band. the album goes a bit samey in the middle - lady godiva's operation and here she comes now have never been my favourites, but the final two tracks are pure onslaught - there's i heard her call my name, 4 minutes of proposterous jumbled feedback that almost makes your head explodes, and sister ray is 17 minutes of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and distorted organ solos. comparing this with the banana album is stupid. they hadn't done anything as amazing before, and never have since.
"But that's too much work, so instead I'll just listen to what sounds good."
I'm with you on that one. But, what sounds good to some might sound like crap to somebody else. I know some music that you have said you liked I've thought was pretty bad. But, to each his own and that's why I'm with you on "I'll just listen to what sounds good".
Sure, some people use music to try to be cool but I don't think those people are in the majority. There's no way you can keep listening to music you don't really like. In the end, you'd just start to hate music unless you came to the realization that being a music geek isn't really that cool!
Once again I forgot to change my name back after posting for someone in Beatles: Survivor. Sorry Daniel.
Or am I actually trying to take credit for an amazing post?
as for white light/white heat, the production's as crap, but it works perfectly. the title track is an awesome, AWESOME dancing rock 'n' roll track, the gift is an intellectual and bizarre experience, john cale's bland vocals working perfectly over the backing track, a chilled out jam with the rest of the band. the album goes a bit samey in the middle - lady godiva's operation and here she comes now have never been my favourites, but the final two tracks are pure onslaught - there's i heard her call my name, 4 minutes of proposterous jumbled feedback that almost makes your head explodes, and sister ray is 17 minutes of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and distorted organ solos.
Do you realize that every word you've said also applies to their debut? Every quality that elicits your praise? It has the boogie, the intellectualism, the saminess, the onslaught?