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White Light/White Heat

127 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  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,865 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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sean Corrigan on July 17 2004
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Bieth TOP 50 REVIEWER on Dec 31 2013
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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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 24 2007
Format: Audio CD
Distortion. Either you love it or you hate it, and that will determine whether you love or hate the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat," which was the final album with John Cale on it. It's strange, raw and eerie, and except for the too-long finale, a fairly good collection.

It kicks off with distorted pop song "White Light/White Heat," and gets followed by equally distorted series of offbeat songs, such as the sex-change operation ballad "Lady Godiva's Operation," the relatively ethereal "Here She Comes Now," and the twisted, squealing riffs of "I Heard Her Call My Name."

"The Gift" is perhaps the most offbeat of all the tracks here: A spoken story-song, recited matter-of-factly in John Cale's Welsh accent. It's about a jealous husband who, in doubt about his wife's fidelity, mails himself to her house. Sounds ordinary enough, except that there is a twist to the finale, both funny and macabre.

This is one of the darker albums that the Velvet Underground did, as well as the last one that was so experimental. The finale is almost twenty minutes of screeching, explosive guitar riffs, and the story-song is definitely odd. But once you get into the swing of it, it's remarkably moving.

The fuzz and wildness of "White Light/White Heat" is definitely offputting at first -- the melodies are buried under a perpetual buzz of sound. That lo-fi flavor won't be to everyone's taste, but those who like their music rough, raw and ragged will probably like the murky riffs and muffled drumming, rising out of a thick mass of fuzz.

For those who don'ty like distortion, it might be a comfort to just focus on the offbeat lyrics -- they can be vulgar, nasty, enchanting, or they can be brimful of black comedy. At least, they are never boring.
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Format: Audio CD
White Light/White Heat is a delight, an album of pure pop with a reputation nearly as black as Lou Reed's 'Berlin'. The subject matter is dark enough, but the melodies and musical development of the songs themselves are recognizably descended from early 60s pop.
What renders these bright and sparkly pop songs so unlistenable is the production. Most production, whether classical, jazz, or pop, aims to advance the goals of the music, to travel in parallel lines with it. Take, for instance, the career of Neil Young: the quieter self-reflective stuff, such as 'After the Goldrush' and 'Comes a Time', gets crystal-clear recording and a lot of sonic separation between instruments; the darker, withdrawn stuff (the Doom Trilogy, Sleeps With Angels) gets off-the-cuff recordings with obvious, intentional mistakes and a messy feel. Each production decision supports the goals and development of the music and lyrics.
The production on WLWH, however, is aimed at damaging, restraining, perhaps even destroying the music's effect. Take the title track, a bouncy number about speed; any sane (or conscientious) producer would have played up the jangle and made damn sure everything was well-separated. The music on this recording, though, seems to have been made with one (maybe two) mics, blending all the sound into one mess that's mixed equally with Reed's voice. It's pop music played with a chainsaw.
Equally important to most pop producers is the centrality of the vocal. Listen to "Pale Blue Eyes" or Cale's cover of "Hallelujah"; the vocal is what you're supposed to listen to, the music just complements it. Here, though, there's an almost perverse competition to drown out the vocals.
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