The Velvet Underground - Loaded (Vinyl)

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Loaded is the fourth studio album by American rock band the Velvet Underground, released in November 1970 by Atlantic Records' subsidiary label Cotillion. Despite having a number of singles originate from it, the album itself failed to chart.

It was the final album recorded featuring founding member and main songwriter Lou Reed, who left shortly before its release. Other founding members Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker would leave in 1971. For this reason, it is often considered by fans to be the "last" Velvet Underground album.

Loaded was a commercial effort aimed at radio play, and the album's title refers to Atlantic's request that the band produce an album "loaded with hits", with a double meaning about the word "loaded", that can also mean "full of drugs" or "really high on drugs". Singer/bassist Doug Yule said, "On Loaded there was a big push to produce a hit single, there was that mentality, which one of these is a single, how does it sound when we cut it down to 3.5 minutes, so that was a major topic for the group at that point. And I think that the third album to a great extent shows a lot of that in that a lot of those songs were designed as singles and if you listen to them you can hear the derivation, like this is sort of a Phil Spector-ish kind of song, or this is that type of person song." Reed was critical of the album's final mix. He left the Velvet Underground on August 23, 1970, but Loaded was not released until three months later, in November. After its release, Reed maintained in interviews that it had been re-edited and resequenced without his consent.


A lighter, friendlier Velvet Underground showed its head on Loaded. This is Lou Reed's V.U. with Cale mostly pushed out, manager Warhol fired, Mo Tucker on leave for pregnancy, and little brother Yule on fill-in duties. Hell, even Lou didn't stick around for the entirety of this album, and no doubt, this is a highly compromised version of the band. The edge, the drone, the attitude, all are largely absent. This was done in a spirit of concession to the biz and to radio or less charitably as a last effort to make a fistful of cash while the ship was going under the waves. It is the corporate Velvet Underground, and yet, it is still a serendipitous beauty of a pop album with just a little bit more.

To some extent, let's call it an entry-level V.U. album. This was their album that I most enjoyed when first listening to them, but it pales somewhat in comparison to the more artistic and complex prior albums. What Loaded has in spades is melody. "Who Loves the Sun" is the sappiest, hippiest, most lyrically frown-inducing song of their career, and with its ba-ba-ba melodies and crisp, sunny acoustic guitars it could be a single by any number of sixties pop acts. It's hard to imagine The Partridge Family singing "Heroin" or "Waiting for the Man" but one could see them singing this and other gleefully pop moments on Loaded, which makes it somewhat of a bitter pill to swallow for aficionados of their other work.

However, to dismiss this album for its accessibility is unfair and myopic. "Sweet Jane" is an utterly perfect song, from the sparkling and weird intro through to its rapturous chorus and Lou's rattled, poetic musings, to the 'la la' finale. "Rock and Roll" is another beauty, with one hot, sharp solo and some fuzzy throwback guitar, a great exultation of the power of rock & roll music in its energy and youth. "New Age" in its portrait of a washed up old Hollywood actress and sombre, dark sound recalls the painterliness of their debut. "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" is a perfect heartfelt goodbye from the band.

Yes, some of the album is marred by Doug Yule's inferior vocals, studio interference, and something of a drop in songwriting as the group disintegrated. The energy level is often a lot lower than on all of the other albums and the overtures to commercial success are plain to be seen, but the result is still a classic, essential farewell from this great rock art experimen

By: jshopa

A1 Who Loves The Sun 2:50
A2 Sweet Jane 3:55
A3 Rock & Roll 4:47
A4 Cool It Down 3:05
A5 New Age 5:20

B1 Head Held High 2:52
B2 Lonesome Cowboy Bill 2:48
B3 I Found A Reason 4:15
B4 Train Round The Bend 3:20
B5 Oh! Sweet Nuthin' 7:23

Drums – Moe Tucker
Engineer [Re-mix] – Geoffrey Haslam
Engineer [Recording] – Adrian Barber, Geoffrey Haslam
Lacquer Cut By – JA* (tracks: Side A), Maria (116) (tracks: Side B)
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Composed By [Song Composition] – Sterling Morrison
Organ, Piano, Bass, Drums, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Lyrics By, Composed By [Song Composition] – Doug Yule
Percussion [Assistant] – Adrian Barber, Bill Yule, Tommy*
Photography By [Backliner Photo] – Henri Ter Hall
Producer – Geoffrey Haslam, Shel Kagan, The Velvet Underground
Rhythm Guitar, Piano, Vocals, Lyrics By, Composed By [Song Composition] – Lou Reed
Written-By [All The Selections Are By] – The Velvet Underground