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    The Velvet Underground

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    The Velvet Underground & Nico( 1967 )
    Sunday Morning / I'm Waiting For The Man / Femme Fatale / Venus In Furs / Run Run Run / All Tomorrow's Parties / Heroin / There She Goes Again / I'll Be Your Mirror / Black Angels Death Song / European Son

    Let's make one thing clear before I begin. I haven't done ANY research for this review, everything is based on the memories I have from what I've read about The Velvet Underground, and from years spent listening to this particular album. Otherwise I'd be here all day talking about Andy Warhol, his little gatherings and 'crowd' of people. Or should they have been called 'followers'? He certainly liked to feel as if he was helping people. Even if ultimately he certainly wasn't. The credits for this album do indeed read produced by Andy Warhol, although to all intents and purposes it was recorded and produced by Tom Wilson. Now, Tom Wilson had previously worked with Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa, so the strangeness of The Velvet Underground wasn't too likely to freak him out. He was a great choice of producer. The presence of Nico here was initially resisted by the group, even though Lou Reed and John Cale both later 'bedded' her as far as I'm aware! Nico was Andy Warhol's idea. She'd come into his influence shortly before he'd come across or been introduced to Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker. He took a particular shine to Lou Reed, by all accounts. I'm not sure exactly what went on, or if anything went on, but given the decadence of everything Warhol, I wouldn't be surprised at hearing about ANYTHING that was even imaginable to have gone on. Warhol's sponsoring of The Velvet Underground may have got them a certain amount of press and opened some doors for them, but in wider circles they were perceived as puppets of his, and not taken too seriously as a result. The album, when it was released, crept into the top 200 on Billboard, fading shortly afterwards. Andy Warhol lost interest, Nico departed for a solo career, and that was that. Except that it wasn't. The Velvet Underground released four more albums, although the last one featured no original leading members, and has been unavailable for years due to it's supposed wretchedness.

    The album opens with 'Sunday Morning', Nico was to have sung it, but in the event the final version doesn't feature her. The melody is childlike - baby in a cot being put to sleep in its simplicity. The vocal is gorgeously sung, but I won't go on about 'Sunday Morning' for too long. Let's just say it's wonderfully recorded, especially the echo on the vocal. The lyric is perfect, romantic and utterly lovely. The "watch out, the world's behind you" line gets me every time. Perfect album opener. I mean really, PERFECT album opener. 'I'm Waiting For The Man' is beautifully low-life, the band repeat the same groove behind the vocal, the guitar picks out notes here and there. The vocal and lyric appears to be Dylan influenced, Dylan circa 1965. The lo-fi grooving of the music in the background is very different to anything Dylan did, though. Dylan would pick out a great guitar player, great bass player, etc. Hardly anybody in VU could play. John Cale was the most accomplished musician, classically trained. Match him up to Maureen Tucker with primitive, distinctive and hypnotic pounding on the drums, bass that 'is there', and Lou Reed / Sterling Morrison with the guitars, neither especially 'awe-inspiring', and you have something. The first Nico vocal appears with 'Femme Fatale', a song tailor-made for her to sing. Her thick Germanic accent added a whole other layer to what's going on here. Not a conventionally beautiful singer by any means, her range was quite narrow, but she was very effective in getting emotions across. Which makes her a good singer, to me. 'Femme Fatale' is pretty and delicate in a similar fashion to 'Sunday Morning'. The lyrics can well have you hanging on every word, listening so intently at times, the music simply fades away to leave Nico, alone.

    'Venus In Furs' gets John Cale's viola working within The Velvet Underground rock-framework. The drums pound and echo, the guitars play simple little melodies. It's an extraordinary sound they create here, utterly distinctive. The Lou Reed vocals on their own are distinctive, forgetting that this music seems like it's coming at you from a Cave, with a droning viola standing just in the entrance of the cave trying to attract everybodies attention! 'Run Run Run' is straight garage rock. Garage Rock? These guys virtually INVENTED IT! Even though they actually didn't, there was this little song called 'Louie Louie' by The Kingsmen. There was LOTS of other songs. But, The Velvet Underground made this little project here. An album that's grown in stature over the years, grown and grown to now be an acknowledged and important part of the classic rock canon. I never did much care for 'All Tomorrow's Parties', even with the Nico vocals. Maybe because of the Nico vocals. Very harsh, but then the whole song is harsh. Still, guitar plays out those simple little notes, simple little sequences. It's not that bad, just not as good as any of the opening songs. 'Heroin' must have seemed astonishing in 1967, no hiding what's going on here. This is quite clearly about, um, Heroin. And graphically and quite skilfully described as far as the emotions are concerned. The music matches the lyrical content perfectly, beautifully, although the music isn't beautiful in the usual sense. It builds up into squealing noises but underneath the squeals the drums are beating and pounding.... the guitar playing those simple little lines of melody. However much noise is layered on the top, the drums and guitar hold the piece together. Like 'Femme Fatale', like other songs here, you may well find yourself really focusing on the lyrics, really falling into the song, into yourself. This isn't music to put on in the background, it deserves and demands full attention. 'There She Goes Again' adds to this albums already impressive variety of songs. A pop song! With beautiful and slightly daft harmonies, a superlative Lou Reed vocal with superb stretching of words. Very Dylan influenced, although Lou Reed had a different voice to Dylan, so it doesn't come across quite the same.

    Ahhhh! This is SUCH a great album! 'I'll Be Your Mirror' is so beautiful, Nico with her voice, that voice with narrow range, almost half speaking rather than singing. She is singing of course, coldly, seemingly emotionless, but.... the emotion comes through so crystal clear. Her voice is clearly an acquired taste, not for everyone, although yeah, I *love* her voice. I'm not ashamed to say that! 'Black Angels Death Song' sees John Cale and his electric viola go absolutely everywhere, most enjoyably. Nothing easy here melody wise. Nothing immediately approachable, although dig deeper, concentrate and listen, and what is that John Cale is playing? Melodies! Well, of sorts, anyway. The near eight minute 'European Son' was an indication to some extent of the way the groups next album would go. There were doubts there would be another album once Warhol lost interest, but there was another album of course. If not, we might not be talking about 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' here today. Might not be. It would be a shame if that was the case. A wonderful album.

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    Readers Comments

    Hatchy hatchking@hotmail.com
    special mention has to go to heroin. makes my hairs stand on end. Brilliant album.

    ben leach misszg@wideopenwest.com
    One of the greatest(and underrated)albums of all time. Femme Fatale is still the weakest in my mind. Though it is still hauntingly beautiful. a difinitve album and well deserving of a 10.

    Mike Harrison cathairball5000@yahoo.com
    A perfect 10. Scary and beautiful at the same time. No one sounded like this in 1966-1967. There's probably three or four different moods to the album, but there's an underlying current of fear and discomfort throughout, regardless of which song you listen to. Too bad more musicians (and listeners) didn't take a hint from the VU back then...maybe there would've been fewer fake flower-power groups clogging the record store shelves.

    Thom Morecroft morecroft@hotmail.co.uk
    This is a great record I agree with the best opening song on any album ever made...that kindof...dazed feeling like patte. Anyway, I just wanted to say All Tomorrows Parties is a great track one of the best on the album. Also...you obviously love VU a lot. I don't know whether I should advise you to get help or just say "arr cool you like VU a lot" Thom

    gazza gary.hess44@hotmail.com
    Still sounds amazing 40 years on - every track feels like it could make another bands reputation . Its beyond rational discussion how influential this record was . And the stuff ive read on this site about reed being a poor guitarist is complete guff . I saw him live recently and his guitar solos were incredible. Even this early check out his playing on all tomorrows parties !!

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    White Light/White Heat 9 ( 1968 )
    White Light-White Heat / The Gift / Lady Godiva's Operation / Here She Comes Now / I Heard Her Call My Name / Sister Ray

    Let's take a trip. You don't like distortion? May as well not bother listening to anything at all from this record, then. A record that sounds like it was recorded by a deaf man on a primitive home tape deck, but actually was produced by the legendary Tom Wilson, although 'produced' might be too strong a term for what we actually have here. Nobody at the record company gave a damn, if they had, no doubt they wouldn't have even ALLOWED this to be released in the first place! Luckily for us that they didn't give a damn though, otherwise I wouldn't be here grooving away to the heavenly distortion, melodies buried beneath hiss, pure unadulterated Rock n Roll! Back to the roots, back to the start - but lets stick a load of avant-garde over the top of this back to basics approach. Lets play like we don't know how to play, partly out of necessity, partly quite deliberately. Let's do it, and inspire a bunch of groups in later years whilst we're at it! You know, the squealings all through parts of 'The Gift' are quite deliberate. They weren't 'mistakes'. This album sounds like 'a noise' to your ears? You're not listening carefully enough. Speaking of 'The Gift', the way it's been mixed results in all the music coming out of the left speaker, all the 'vocals' out of the right. Listen to either speaker ( turn your balance 'knob' across ) and you can hear either every single word of the sheer bizarre story John Cale is telling, or alternately, enjoy the music grooving away, repeating phrases, going round and round and round, with the most notable aspects of the feedback and distortion actually providing the changes and variations. Listen to both sides together, and the words of Lou Reed's story, as told by John Cale, require you to strain slightly in order to pick out what's going on. You wanna meet a girl? Mail yourself through the post so she can unwrap you at the other end. Just be sure she doesn't use a large sheet metal cutter to get into the package you've sent yourself in - "Then she sank down to her knees, grasped the cutter by both handles, took a deep breath, and plunged the long blade through the middle of the package, through the masking tape, through the cardboard, through the cushioning and (thud) right through the center of Waldo Jeffers head, which split slightly and caused little rhythmic arcs of red to pulsate gently in the morning sun."

    The title track is gloriously concise in comparison with the closing track which runs for seventeen minutes plus, even longer during live performance. Both feature GROOVE, the latter song features lots of Organ and both feature guitars seemingly let loose to play themselves resulting in extraordinary sounds behind which drummer Maureen Tucker more or less keeps up a steady beat regardless of the madness in front of her. The title song is actually one of the more 'accessible' tracks here, and even that is unlikely to appeal to fans of 'Walk On The Wild Side', for example. 'Sister Ray' is just sheer glory, one hell of a simple groove, the distortion sends everything to heaven, the song dissolves completely in several places into white noise, the lyrics are as dumb as can be, but brilliantly dumb with it. True, you may not always be in the mood to listen to ALL of 'Sister Ray', but that doesn't matter. Just listen to however much you can take. 'Lady Godiva's Operation' could have been sung quite well by Nico, John Cale sings it instead. So, Mr Cale is singing softly and sweetly, appropriately given the delicate music punctuated by the steady primitive drums of Maureen Tucker. In places, Lou comes in with these stupid, half sung words in a very loud voice quite at odds with everything else going on. It's a dumb, stupid thing to do, but I'm sure that was the entire point! It certainly makes me smile, this pretty little simple song rendered on the record with more than just a little sense of humour and fun. It's cool as can be. 'Here She Comes Now', I know of one new group who have based half of their entire career on this song by the sound of them. Just this little song on an album that does tend to provoke love/hate responses due to it's pretty uncompromising nature. I adore 'Here She Comes Now', it sounds so simple and easy, it sounds so addictive. 'I Heard Her Call My Name' is back to the Rock n Roll of the opening title cut, sharing the feedback and distortion and lo-fi sound. 'Sister Ray' often threatens to disappear up it's own backside, but always swings back to pleasure. Pleasure and pain, contrast, bitterness and light, darkness and sweet. Everything is here on this album. It may not be an especially clever album lyrically ( although 'The Gift' cracks me up every time ), the playing certainly is primitive, and so is the sound quality. But, these guys had guts to do this. Nobody listened at the time, although they certainly did later.

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    Readers Comments

    David Babb david.n.babb@ttu.edu
    Your review was pretty much dead on. People always bash the hell out of this album because there's "too much static" or "it's not musical." Well, I believe those people to be frickin idiots. To me, the fact that it sounds like it was recorded on a cassette recorder in a tin shack is what makes it so unbelievably great. It sounds exquisitely good on vinyl! I happened to get lucky enough to find a copy at the local music store. How the hell people can crap on this album for having too much distortion and then listen to shit like godsmack is completely beyond my understanding! The VU did it first and they did it the right way. No record collection is complete without this highly underrated gem! 1/2

    Ady drytherain2002@yahoo.co.uk
    I always loved this album on vinyl, but to me the remastered CD is lacking a lot of what's great about it. The vinyl version is like being led down into a dingy basement, with the lights off. For the CD, the basement has been whitewashed, and little spotlights installed. It's too clean, and bleed through has been eliminated. The Gift used to have vocals and music bleeding together in a big unholy mess. Now the vocals have been boosted in volume, so Cale recites over the music, rather than clashing equally with it. The first CD release actually had an apology on the back, saying the digital medium wasn't able to do it justice. It still can't.

    Mimichiou tomlock@caramail.com
    THE Velvet album. A unique sound painting that has moved music closer to the definition of Art in my opinion. Reed & Cale completely match. A Masterpiece which is often underrated. Without any doubt 10+

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    the sound of 4 new yorkers frustrated with their record label and in 2 cases blasted on smack and speed . The title track is jerry lee lewis transferred to a new york loft , raucous ! i prefer "the gift" without the narration from cale and "lady godivas operation" is raga like with mcguinn style guitar which turns deeply strange after reeds vocals enter . So far so good - "sister ray" ?? 17 mins of improvised groove, cale and reed clashing musically as well as personally , the lyrics concerning a drugged up orgy .Whew ... "here she comes now" is pretty and gentle - the calm before the storm . My fave is "i heard her call my name" which has some incredibly intense guitar , the glissando midway seems to take the band by surprise so much they nearly stop playing completely before rushing back to join him as he launches into another solo that nearly derails the track . Reed couldnt play?? Please , i mean cmon ! Lou was a sick fascinating individual , This album r! epresents that best from his velvets canon .

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    The Velvet Underground( 1968 )
    Candy Says / What Goes On / Some Kinda Love / Pale Blue Eyes / Jesus / Beginning To See The Light / I'm Set Free / That's The Story Of My Life / The Murder Mystery / After Hours

    John Cale is replaced by Doug Yule. Now, which one of those guys went onto to have an acclaimed and respected solo career, and which one disappeared without trace? No prizes for getting the correct answer, by the way. Yeah, Doug could sing OK, but losing John Cale lost The Velvet Underground a vital element of their makeup, namely the avant-garde, dissonant side of the group, the challenging experimental side of the group. The nearest they come to being experimental here is the rather strange 'Murder Mystery', more of which later. Drummer Maureen Tucker sings a song! Doug Yule gets to sing a song, but fortunately, it's a rather spiffing song, albeit a very simple song. Simple isn't a put-down. The opening track here, 'Candy Says' is a very beautiful combination of personal sounding lyrics matched to a very pretty melody. This pretty melody is simplicity itself, but the song as a whole just seems so perfect, so unchangeable. Which part would you change? Well, you might not have chosen Doug Yule to sing it in the first place, but he does an appropriate job, sounds very nice, actually. 'Candy Says' is the single most beautiful moment on this entire album for me, attention to detail, harmonies - a perfect piece of writing. 'What Goes On' is a welcome guitar led track, lo-fi, wouldn't have been absolutely out of place stuck on 'White Light White Heat'. 'Some Kinda Love' is taking a simple approach to song-writing a little too far, a tiny guitar figure repeats, Lou sings, doesn't say anything, really..... Were the VU attempting to be more populist? Less 'scary'? Was this new direction a result of John Cale's departure, a result of something else? Still, 'Pale Blue Eyes' although being rather over-long for such a simple song and melody, almost matches the beauty of the opening song whilst 'Jesus' arriving from the same 'pen' that wrote 'Heroin' seems a little strange, initially. Not because of anything contained in the music, which is very simple strummed guitars. Not because of anything contained in the vocals, which are sweet and rather fine. There is just something missing here, where has the darkness gone?

    'Beginning To See The Light' is really just a single guitar pattern, repeated from beginning to close. Still, this is a fun track, lo-fi, Lou sings with passion even though he doesn't appear to have very many different words to actually sing. 'I'm Set Free' has a few delicate, interweaving 'Velvet Underground' sounding guitars, pounding drums ( for about the first time on the entire album ) and Lou and Doug harmonizing with each other through the chorus. The closing three songs are strange, although not in a searching, exploring or experimental way, even with 'The Murder Mystery' being a strange piece of atmospherics, quiet guitars, drum rolls and Maureen Tucker getting a good share of the vocals. 'The Murder Mystery' is no pop song or regular rock song in structure, as virtually all of the other songs here have been. Actually, it comes across as a lot more Velvet Underground because of it, a lot more in tune with their earlier material. I like it. 'That's The Story Of My Life' may well have a little happy lilting melody, almost countryish, but it's pretty forgettable. Drummer Maureen Tucker sings the final song, a melody that seems as old as the hills, a single guitar strumming very simply, but Maureen has a rather perculiar and character filled voice. They should have let her sing more, I really love this! As for the album as a whole, I merely like this. It's a little inconsistent in song-writing, rather strange considering the departure of Mr Cale didn't affect that, as Lou wrote pretty much all of the songs, anyway. The real difference is that there isn't a single group composition here, a single flowing and reaching experiment in noise. The reason for this may well have been mostly because Lou Reed and friends didn't want to do that kind of thing again, at least not at the time, but more likely was because a vital component in the groups chemistry had gone.

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    Readers Comments

    hugues o.hugues@wanadoo.fr
    7 and a half? are you joking? this album is soooo charming! every gentle band copied it after, without ever finding its magic. I would have given a big 9. Sincerely, as a whole it's better than the first album. The trouble, though, is the sound of the CD, a real shame. Just dream of an original vinyl sound...

    Aaron glenn@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    No way this is the best album by the velvets its so' so sweet its a dreamy sound somthing the Velvet's do best. My Favourite track is ‘After hours’ totally one of the most sad songs I have ever herd and that’s why I love it so I mean “Leave the wine glass out drink a toast to never” brilliant ‘candy says’ the album is worth buying for these tracks alone compared to white light/ god this is heaven 9 1/2

    maurice roca fraim25@aol.com
    I think this album is a 10. This is my favorite VU album after the first one. 7 and a half is to low. I don't see any reviews for nico's solo albums...the marble index is awesome and highly underrated.

    Mike Harrison cathairball5000@yahoo.com
    This was a good move for the VU. WHITE LIGHT is great, but I don't think it would've been a good idea to repeat it or the debut album.....been there, done that with the "white noise shriek." This album presents an entirely different dimension to the band. There's some real sweet music and lyrics, though there's enough of an edge in the lyrics to keep everything from becoming too precious. I actually think Doug Yule's presence adds a boyish charm to the music, which probably enhanced the more "poppish" direction that Lou was probably looking for, anyway. I don't know that this could've been accomplished in Cale's presence with the same results.

    gazza gary.h@hotmail.com
    7.5 ? youre having a laugh - this is the best velvets album best consumed after a heavy night in the early hours of daylight - it cleans all the dark shit from your soul, and empathises with human frailty in a perfect way . Loads of bands have tried to lift the sound of this and failed (stereolab deffo loved murder mystery!!) Classic stuff 10/10

    Thom Morecroft morecroft@hotmail.co.uk
    I love this album. If it wasn't for this album there'd be no belle and sebastien, no stereolab...a lot of music wouldn't have been made and I think it would have been crap if the velvets had made white light/white heat 2. lets face it. a great band changes and develops and this is one of the greatest bands of all time making a good almost easy listening album. its very up in mood in comparison to the first 2. john cale and lou reed hated each other...so cale left. so cale's not there? big deal. this is the album it should have been and its a bloody 10 thom

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    Loaded( 1970 )
    Who Loves The Sun / Sweet Jane / Rock 'n' Roll / Cool It Down / New Age / Head Held High / Lonesome Cowboy Bill / I Found A Reason / Train Round The Bend / Oh Sweet Nuthin'

    Moe Tucker takes time out to have a baby. Doug Yule is suddenly credited with both Drums and Lead Guitar, Organ, Bass. Pretty much everything here. Lou and Sterling also played their guitars, but why Doug Yule is suddenly 'lead' guitar player is unclear to me. Doug is also credited with 'song composition'. So is Lou, and it's the Lou songs, the songs clearly Lou Reed oriented, that shine brightest here. And, we've got a couple of great ones! Before all of that however, does it make sense to call this 'Loaded' project a Velvet Underground record? Well, it IS a Velvet Underground record, it says so on the cover. A-ha! But, there is a problem. The absence of Moe means the drums and thus the entire rhythm section sounds entirely different. Moe Tucker's primitive pounding was a heart-beat of kinds in front of which Lou, Sterling and John Cale could express themselves. 'Loaded' just contains regular drums, much faster and more technically proficient drums - but without the same power or distinctive feel. The guitars, bar one or two songs, sound different. On the self-titled third album, Doug fit in because he played his parts, sang a couple of songs and that was it. Handing over half the instrumentation to him, more lead vocals - and handing over a portion of song-writing was always going to affect the sound of the group. And, surprise, it does exactly that. So, is this a Velvet Underground album? Not really, parts of this clearly presage Lou's solo career and a couple of rather unfortunate parts presage the brief and best forgotten Velvet Underground career that spluttered to a halt once Lou left. So, given all of this information, you may expect to find that 'Loaded' is below par? Not exactly. The opening three songs are all wonderful things, and the best three songs here, although a couple of highlights do remain. These opening songs are SO GOOD however, the album overall is good and the project works.

    'Who Loves The Sun', sung by Doug, is super-fine and light, sunny - quite appropriately. It's in contrast to the darkness of VU of old, but this sounds like a natural progression from parts of the third album, at least. Nice little harmonies appear through sections of the song, good addictive listening. 'Sweet Jane' has an introduction and a half that sweeps into Lou drawling and pronouncing his way through a Rock n Roll classic of sorts. Doesn't sound at all like VU, this one. It sounds totally and entirely like Lou Reed. It's a damn good song and it leads into another damn good song, and things are getting exciting! 'Rock N Roll' is a little VU guitar thing, although far easier on the ears than similar things they did in the past. One, two, three - we're flying. 'Loaded' is a classic album? A masterpiece? Uh, well. 'Cool It Down' is TERRIBLE! Doesn't sound like a Lou song here, although i'm guessing. It doesn't really matter if Lou, Doug or Sterling Morrison for that matter was responsible - this is cliched, unimaginative, dull, plodding, trying. It not only sounds like a different band altogether from previous albums, but also a different band altogether from the one who produced the first three mighty songs. 'New Age' is an intriguing composition, very slow paced, strangely fascinating, especially lyrically. 'Head Held High' opens with Lou and a generic Rock guitar approach, nothing unusual or even particular enjoyable here. 'Lonesome Cowboy Bill' is a nice chugging energetic, simplistic and undemanding piece of fluff, but it's entertaining. 'I Found A Reason' sounds like The Velvet Underground, 'Train Round The Bend' doesn't, the closing 'Oh Sweet Nuthin' doesn't. For the record, 'I Found A Reason' benefits hugely from a considered and restrained approach both musically and vocally. It's a beautiful song, and a highlight of the album. 'Train Round The Bend' contains horribly out of tune vocal wailing from Lou and poor seperation of instrumentation for instrumentation that is so simple. There's a slight smoke and chug thing going on here, pretending to be a train, I guess! The closing 'Oh! Sweet Nuthin' stretches out for seven minutes plus. Reminds me a little of Neil Young, but only in places. Oh, and the song? It's good!

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    Mark Cotton mark.cotton@travisperkins.co.uk
    In general your reviews are more or less spot on. The only problem i have is as always people being down on Doug Yule. Don't get me wrong, without any question the Velvets are my fav band of all time. They were the reason why i wanted to play guitar. Just remember Lou Reeds quote " If God or Aliens came down asked me what i could be in the whole world i would be a guitar player in a Rock 'N' Roll band. Please go back, just re-listen to some of the bass playing on Loaded, it is without doubt fantastic. Stop me if i'm wrong but ..... thats Doug Yule. Most of the thinks that people moan about with Loaded, like the credits etc was done by Steve Sesnick after Lou had walked. Sorry but i've had my rant now, maybe i should just turn down the lights, plug my Thinline Tele into my Fender Twin and play alone to the Live 1969 version of What Goes On .... ah heaven.

    S Riley Steven@wanadoo.co.uk
    These are great albums and well reviewed.HoweverIMHO the live 69 album is by far the finest thing Lou Reed ever did.Although Cale is missing and the sound is not perfect it captures a unique atmosphere and Reed sings all his own songs much better than the imposters who appear on the 1st and last albums.Check out his delivery on Femme Fatale and Pale Blue Eyes.Sheer bittersweet beauty. Mark Cotton

    Thom Morecroft morecroft@hotmail.co.uk
    In truth, their most ordinary but one of the greatest albums of all time. Every song on here is at least enjoyable and I love every moment of knowing I'm listening to Loaded. Bands change. Sometimes they have to compromise and the compromise sounds fucking ace, weird that but it happens. You can't knock this record to a seven because its not wlwh or vu+n. Its really great and I like Doug Yule's songs. Its nice to hear them having a go at being a 70s rock group. I love them. God love The Velvet Underground. 10

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    The strokes and belle and sebastian rave about this album even though its rep is the weakest of all 4 lou reed helmed velvets cds . What the hell happened to doug yule ? I think he was good for the velvets , he was happy playing bass for a start(cale and morrison hated it) and his songs and singing here are every bit as good as lous . "who loves the sun" "new age" and "oh sweet nuthin" are all great songs (lou sounds like he helped lyrically) all bittersweet with much more harmony and space than usually the case for the velvets . Lous on top form with "sweet jane" and "rock n roll" 2 classics pure and simple - but the best track is "i found a reason" which is a beautifully weary ballad in lous signature style which really benefits from yules and reeds work on the arrangement . The rest is kind of filler although i like "train round the bend" its all fuzzy and foottapping . This was clearly a last shot at commercial sucess - how these songs didnt break thro! ugh is mystifying . Lou may already have had a solo career in mind though - bootlegs reveal the band trying out several unreleased velvets tracks for the album including the awesome "oceans" trying to give them a loaded style sound .The fact that lou rejigged some of these old velvets songs for his 1st solo album suggests as much. its not dark enough for some fans but who cares ? Rock n roll history had been made and loaded is far from a disgrace to that legacy.

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    Squeeze 7 ( 1970 )
    Little Jack / Crash / Caroline / Mean Old Man / Dopey Joe / Wordless / She'll Make You Cry / Friends / Send No Letter / Jack And Jane / Louise

    Several events cast doubt on the liner credits of 'Loaded'. The drums here are handled by Ian Paice of Deep Purple fame, Mo Tucker having left/been pushed shortly beforehand. The bands manager, seeing a growing cult of popularity building up around the group, had been masterminding the touring and ( this here ) recording of The Velvet Underground with Doug Yule as the groups leader, following the departure of Lou Reed. The release and mixing of 'Loaded' was controversial enough, 'Squeeze' is an album not even recognized by the majority of VU fans. Available only briefly upon initial release and reissued in France only in the 80s, 'Squeeze' ultimately sounds more like a 5th VU album than the 1st Lou Reed solo album. Doug does a passable imitation of Lou Reed vocally. Writing wise, we've a few surprisingly accomplished, if unoriginal, rock and pop songs. 'Squeeze' received good reviews at the time and these days is slated largely by people who've never actually sat down and listened to it. Plus points in general, then. The playing by Yule is accomplished, the vocals are decent. We've some Beatle influences that mean a couple of tunes such as 'Little Jack' and 'Mean Old Man' resemble Ringo Starr at his solo best. We've, strange as this seems whilst typing it, a few Velvet Underground influences. Doug Yule had large shoes to fill with the departure not only of Lou Reed, but with the entire rest of the band, as well. He does this well, credit where credit is due. Ultimately, had this been released as a Doug Yule solo record and properly promoted and distributed, Doug conceivably could have gone onto far more commercial success than Lou Reed ever has. Having commercial success isn't a barometer of quality of course, which is just as well as VU never did sell records much during their original lifetime.

    'Dopey Joe' has terrible lyrics and is certainly one of the worst songs here, although having said this, the music itself is hardly terrible by and large. 'Caroline' is superior pop/rock with a nifty tune and strong vocals. It clearly apes the writing of Lou Reed but it does it well and comes across better than plenty of Reed compositions I can immediately think of. 'Friends' is a lovely little ballad that, with 'Caroline', sounds a lot stronger than a good half of the 'Loaded' album. Whether the influence of session drummer Ian Paice was felt upon Doug during these sessions or not, I don't know, but 'Jack And Jane', a follow-up of sorts to 'Sweet Jane' lyrically if not musically, has a whiff of Jazz and/or Progressive rock about it. 'Send No Letter' is listenable country-rock and you know what? 'Squeeze' isn't bad, overall. It's not mindblowing and it's the weakest of the VU studio albums, but that's hardly surprising. Reissue it somebody under the name Doug Yule and give the guy some credit, because he deserves credit more for this than his ( often jarring ) contributions to the far more acclaimed 'Loaded' album.

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    Will Dockery will.dockery@gmail.com
    I agree that "Squeeze" would have made a fine debut Doug Yule album, and of course a terrible Velvet Underground ending... VU could survive a lot, but no Lou Reed? Impossible. I bought "Squeeze" on vinyl many years ago, never managed to make it through it all the way, but now that Mp3s are surfacing, "Caroline" and "Dopey Joe", and I approach them without thinking about the rediculous bogus VU baggage, and rather as Doug Yule... they work for me. Would be great if "Squeeze" could be reissued on CD as Doug Yule's first and only solo record, maybe as Doug Yule's Velvet Underground, with liner notes explaining things...

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    VU 8 ( 1985 )
    I Can't Stand It / Stephanie Says / She's My Best Friend / Lisa Says / Ocean / Foggy Notion / Temptation Inside Your Heart / One of These Days / Andy's Chest / I'm Sticking with You

    The majority of these songs were recorded for a proposed fourth Velvet Underground album for Verve records. This project fell through when Verve changed presidents and the band were dropped for being controversial and un-commercial. Although we're told in some quarters this is the great 'lost' Velvet Underground album, in reality it's more of a rarities collection. Two songs feature John Cale - 'Stephanie Says' and 'Temptation Inside Your Heart' therefore clearly hail from an earlier incarnation of the band. Several songs from the 'lost 4th album' made their way onto 'Another View' alongside a further handful of Cale era outtakes. 'VU' does help piece together the transition from the bands 3rd self-titled effort through to the eventual release of 'Loaded'. Well, a move towards more straight-forward rock-based material. The lovely Cale era 'Stephanie Says' meanwhile has much in common with 3rd album Velvet Underground era. 'I Can't Stand It', 'Lisa Says' and 'Ocean' later saw release in different versions on Lou Reeds first solo LP.

    Multi-mixes of much the original master-tapes led to some re-mixing during the early 80s in preparation for the release of VU. This process certainly led to some of the cleanest sounding Velvet Underground material yet also, weirdly, dates some of this material more so than the original 60s recordings. I'm thinking of 'I Can't Stand It' particularly, but it applies to other parts of this album, too. Ha! I know what it is, it's the acoustics. They've done something to make it sound eighties, somehow. Still, we don't squabble too much because 'I Can't Stand It' is a superb performance. Groovy bass lines actually, were they played by Doug Yule? I suppose they were! 'She's My Best Friend' is short and sweet and lightweight, 'Lisa Says' is a fun short dirge with a great Lou Reed vocal drawl and then 'Ocean' is utterly superb and far better than the version on the solo Lou Reed album. Mo Tucker's drumming makes this the definitive version, wonderful stuff. 'Foggy Notion' and 'Temptation Inside Your Heart' showcase two sides of VU, the former a lengthy excersize in that classic guitar sound, the latter a slice of VU fun and humour. Well, nothing here on the LP is lack-lustre and whilst it doesn't of course match top-notch VU quality, 'VU' is clearly an excellent addition to your catalogue, all the same.

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    this page last updated 10/05/10

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