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White Light/White Heat

4.2 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 7 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Polydor - Universal Special Imports
  • ASIN: B000002G7E
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record  |  Blu-ray Audio
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,439 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. White Light/White Heat
2. The Gift
3. Lady Godiva's Operation
4. Here She Comes Now
5. I Heard Her Call My Name
6. Sister Ray

Product Description

Product Description

The proto-punk rock revolution that VU sparked reached its pinnacle right here. Feedback frenzies and narcotic odes abound as you behold Here She Comes Now; I Heard Her Call My Name ; the title cut; the mind-blowing epic Sister Ray , and more!


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." --Percy Keegan

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I really don't know what to say. For me, this was it. The moment I turned it on, everything I'd ever known about conventional modern pop music was tossed out the window (defenestrated, if you will). But the question still remains: Of the two relevant VU albums (the ones with Cale), which is better?
I've argued with my friends and even myself and have concluded that the Velvets' fusion of avant-garde and rock n' roll is at its peak on White Light/White Heat, and it's dark energy may never be matched.
The distorted guitars and of "Run, Run, Run" have been turned up louder and the band rocks out with the messiness of "European Son" while the subject matter of sex, drugs and transexuals is preached over the music. Lou Reed never played guitar like this again, almost as if Cale's mind took over his hands. Some of his guitar solos are almost comparable to free jazz (I've read that other places, too), specifically on "I Heard Her Call My Name."
"The Gift" is pure sexual tension, and Cale's voice is perfect for reading the story over the band's jam. "Lady Godiva's Operation" utilizes vocals in imaginative ways.
"Here She Comes Now" is a display of what the third album could have potentially sounded like if Cale had remained with the group: much better than anything with Yule.
"Sister Ray" is where all of the tensions between Reed and Cale completely take over. For 17 and a half minutes, the two compete on guitar and organ ("There is no bass") and the result makes the Velvets seem like a primitive (thanks Moe Tucker) jam band for transvestite-junkies. None of the bootlegs of this song with Yule ever sounded anywhere near as good.
In conclusion, WL/WH sparked something in me, and I fell in love with its tense, violent sexual energy instantly. If you've ever thought that Led Zeppelin was boring, or that the Rolling Stones weren't the coolest band in the world, then I highly recommend White Light/White Heat.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Another perfect box set from the VU. This,the follow up to last years " ...with Nico " box set and it's almost as good. This to comes in a beautiful hard covered coffee table book that holds great photos and excellent liner notes. But as with all great box sets it comes down to the music. The reason this is getting four and a half stars is due to the fact that it only has three CD's of music and not six like the first one. I understand that there was not as much extra music around or more live tapes like there were for the first set. The reason I am knocking it back half a star is because we are being charged the same price for this box set as the last. Yet, as I mentioned, has half the audio.
This set is on CD 1 the album in stereo ith some bonus tracks. The 2nd CD is the CD in Mono plus some different bonus tracks. Usually I don't like Mono mixes but due to how the stereo audio was mixed on the original release it's nice to hear the instruments and vocals not coming from separate speakers. The third and final CD is a live CD that has the best sound (still not great) of any Velvet's show I have heard from this period.
I am assuming that there will be a box for their third album next Christmas and it has me counting the days!
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Format: Audio CD
Ok, I'm sick of these people out there who say this album is too harsh or pointless or that the sound isn't all that great. I think these people are the ones that look at the VU expecting something poppy and sissy, like early mop-top beatles. I'm sorry, but the closest you can get with THIS album is "I Heard Her Call My Name" which sounds like the Beatles taking spikes in their veins a'la Heroin.
This album sets the standard, I believe, for what Andy Warhol expected to come out of the full potential in the studio of Lou Reed and the Velvets. While their studio work doesn't come very close to their live work, this is the closest it gets and trust me, it blew me away. When I first heard "White Light/White Heat" with the Jerry Lee Lewis piano banging and distorted guitar, I thought it was a nice song. But when you come to the point of realizing what it's about and then the outtro that is just plain freaky, you appreciate it at a deeper level than a typical rock band. The Velvets give some nice stuff but when it gets weird, it tests to see who the true blue experimentalists are and who is just looking for a catchy tune (though they offer that, too).
"The Gift" offers the monotonous and sometimes eerie voice of John Cale reading a story which doesn't prepare you...actually, nothing will...for the sudden and shocking ending to it. Just reading the lyrics ISN'T enough. And once again, "I Heard Her Call My Name" shows some of Lou's greatest guitar experiments on record. "Lady Godiva's Operation" almost has an eastern/sitarish feel to it, though that may just be my opinion.
Bash it all you want, this IS the Velvet Underground. Not your Loaded or post-Cale recordings (as good as they are). This album needs to be understood to completely understand the Velvet Underground. THIS is the breakthrough into the experiment which became punk. THIS is true rebel music.
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By A Customer on June 22 2003
Format: Audio CD
WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT is one of the most controversial albums in rock 'n roll history. It is equally revered and reviled. Will you like it or not? Well, if you are a fantastic musician who cherishes mind-blowingly talented artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Cream/Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, you'll view this as an insult; a cheap, worthless piece of garbage released only as exploitation of both your hard-earned pay and its seemingly drug-fueled fans. So it's best you did not even READ the rest of this review.
But if you're looking for a guilty pleasure or any kind of perverse entertainment, WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT is your CD. The production is basically non-existent, Lou Reed sings as if he had just toked a doobie (especially on "Sister Ray"), the guitars are put on amps that must have been stolen by Spinal Tap (they go up to "11," probably), and with the exception of John Cale, everyone in the band sounds like they had a couple of lessons on their instruments in 7th grade. Musical proficiency is not the issue; energy, noise, and insults toward rock 'n roll conventions are. This music is trashy, chaotic, and throwaway in its nature.
Under the torrents of amplifier feedback, the record does have melodies. The Jerry Lee Lewis-esque title track is a killer stomper; "I Heard Her Call My Name" does actually have a hook or two; and the quieter "Here She Comes Now" hints toward the next album. But melody isn't one of the album's assets. Sure, Lou Reed can solo about as good as Britney Spears can sing, but at least he wasn't trying to be good and lets it hang out, especially on "Heard Her Call My Name." Sure, him and Sterling Morrison give off mostly waves of feedback on "The Gift" instead of try to compose a melody.
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