The Velvet Underground - White Light / White Heat (Vinyl)

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Nothing in their debut could really have prepared fans for the sonic assault the Velvets unleashed in White Light/White Heat. Freed from Andy Warhol's patronage (and Nico's vocals), Lou Reed and company strip production values to a minimum and turn out a primitive rock & roll masterpiece: Everything on this record sounds distorted and abrasive. Depending on how you feel about these sorts of things, this makes it either their best or their worst record. Of course, underneath it all are some of Reed's greatest songs, from the title track to the wistful "Here She Comes Now". It all culminates on side two with the raucously joyous "I Heard Her Call My Name" ("And then my mind split open," Reed sings and his guitar lets you know just about how that would feel) and the epic "Sister Ray"--10 minutes of transcendent, pounding fuzz as Reed searches for his "mainline."

Special Edition on Clear Purple vinyl.


With their debut album, the Velvet Underground showed two distinct sides of the band, a loud, experimental rock side and a much lighter pop side. The band could have gone down the easier path and made an album full of pop songs, and eventually they did start to do more straight forward rock, but before that they released White Light/White Heat, by far the peak of their experimentation. Still featuring the original line-up with John Cale, the album featured a raw punk sound and lyrics to match, with an even bigger obsession with prostitutes, transvestites, and just the general odd. The undoubted highlight of the album is Sister Ray, a song based around a simple chord progression which ends up being a noise battle between Reed's guitar and Cale's distorted organ, with the other two members of the band trying to keep up. Taking up most of the second side, it's very free form and a bit of an endurance test, but I love every minute of it. The Gift is an surreal song taking another simple chord progression featured in one channel and pairing it with a bizarre spoken word story about a person traveling through the mail to see his girlfriend only to be slain on arrival, and this is done in Cale's deadpan speech, showing little, if any, emotion. Elsewhere Cale sings properly on Lady Godiva's Operation, which is about a transvestite getting a lobotomy of all things. I Heard Her Call My Name is another noise explosion, while the other two songs are conventional by this records standards. I'll be honest, I prefer the Velvets when they're writing simple pop tunes, or when they're more balanced as on the debut, but this is a very impressive album, and it helps to solidify their place in rock history.
By: MoeHartman

A1 White Light/White Heat
A2 The Gift
A3 Lady Godiva's Operation
A4 There She Comes Now
B1 I Heard Her Call My Name
B2 Sister Ray

Catalogue No: 990045

Record Label: Vinyl Lovers