on March 31, 2004
The Velvet Underground was the followup to their second album, the excellent White Light/White Heat. While that album was almost completely dominated by loud and noisy tracks, with many played with reckless abandon, this album is almost the complete opposite. This is also the first album the band recorded without John Cale and his vocals and musicianship, particularly his viola playing, are certainly missed here. With Cale's departure, Lou Reed claimed nearly total control of the band and many of the tracks here point to much of the introspective work he'd perform in his solo career.
Having said that, this is still a very strong album. Many of the tracks here are calm and soothing and the harder rocking songs have much more restraint than on their previous releases. The opening track "Candy Says" is the band at their most mellow and Doug Yule's soft vocals add to the mood. Other softer tracks such as "Jesus", "I'm Set Free", and "That's The Story Of My Life" are also very strong. "Pale Blue Eyes" is probably the best track here and one of the best ballads that Reed has ever recorded. Listening to these tracks, particularly the excellent harmonizing on "Jesus" and Reed's emotional vocals on "I'm Set Free", it's hard to believe this is the same band that recorded "Heroin" and "White Light/White Heat." The tracks "What Goes On" and "Beginning To See The Light" are both strong rockers and the guitar sound here points to much of the music that dominated college radio in the 1980's. The only track which hints at the chaos of their previous releases is "The Murder Mystery" which combines Reed and Sterling Morrison's spoken vocals on the verse with Yule and Maureen Tucker's softer vocals handling the chorus. Other tracks here include the folky "After Hours" sung by Tucker and "Some Kinda Love" which sounds very much like Reed's solo stuff from the early-80's. Although this isn't top notch like their first two albums, this is still worth checking out. Definitely a great album to chill out to.
After the fierce White Light/White Heat, this third album saw the Velvet Underground in a calmer, more contemplative mood and exploring their softer side which first surfaced on songs like Sunday Morning and I'll Be Your Mirror on the first album.
The exceptions are What Goes On with its shimmering guitars and Beginning To See The Light with its urgent rock riff and almost Stones-like flavour. Some Kinda Love is softer although there is still that unique driving sense of nervouness in the rhythm.
The gem of the album is Pale Blue Eyes, where Reed surpasses himself as a poet in the intimate, evocative images. This song also has one of the Velvets' most gripping melodies and the delivery is perfect. A gentle ballad with a wistful feel, Pale Blue Eyes must be one of the most beautiful songs of all time.
There are plenty of beautiful ballads like Jesus, I'm Set Free and That's The Story Of My Life. The Murder Mystery consists of spoken and sung parts over a brooding backing that becomes dissonant toward the end. This classic album concludes with the playful acoustic number Afterhours.
on February 1, 2003
The recent release of the deluxe edition of VU & Nico (with stereo and mono mixes) tends to reinforce the fact that this is actually the one Velvet album that you might be really be tempted to own two different discs. Of course this has all to do with the fact that the wonderful box set comes with the version of their third album that Lou remixed himself in order to focus on singer and lyrics. That was the version originally released as lp.
The disc offered here is the first mix, before Lou changed things, which presents the group as a standard rock band, with guitars and rhythm vying equally for attention with the singer. Sterling noted that this mix has the same dynamics as a good Rolling Stones' album. The music, of course, is beyond sublime. There may be no album ever recorded that has been so influential on subsequent music. This is the very blueprint for adult rock and roll.
Personally, I tend to favor Lou's mix. Just like Dylan, or maybe Leonard Cohen, these songs are truely poetic and deserve particular focus. And we heard this kind of arrangement before on White Heat/White Light with the Gift and Lady Godiva's Operation, with the instruments churning away in the background during those gruesome little stories. With far stronger material, this arrangement works brilliantly on the subsequent effort.
But either way, you can't go wrong here. This record ranks right up there with Revolver, Blonde on Blonde, Smile, and Axis: Bold as Love.
With the loss of John Cale, Lou Reed became the major voice in the band. It is audible, the album sounding much like Reed's early solo work. Although it boasts some great tracks, in particular, What Goes On, which Bryan Ferry covered on Bride Stripped Bare, Some Kinda Love, Pale Blue Eyes and Beginning to See the Light, it is not as strong as the succeeding albums. Worthwhile.
on August 14, 2014
This album represents the morning after the party, contrary the VU's first two album which rock a little harder. The absence of John Cale is evident in the fact that this album is less experimental art rock, and more singer/songwriter ballads. Without John Cale, VU losses much of its spirit, but Lou Reed's talents are amplified. Some of Lou Reed's best lyrics are present on this record.
This is a great album. The first without John Cale and the first with Doug Yule. This album is a complete departure from the first two record. This record is mellow and has great song writting (well the writting on the first four records is excellent) and Reed puts a lot of emotion into his singing. The set it's self is great. You get six CD's. The first three are three different mixes the actual studio record. The fourth Disc is a collection of recordings from the '69 recording session. Discs five and six is an excellent two CD live record. Most of which has been unreleased. Sound quality is one of the better live recordings released to date. This all comes in a hard covered coffee table book (like the first two in this set).
If you are a Reed or Velvet fan these and the first two box sets are a must. Even if (like me) you have the "Peel Slowely And See" box set it is still worth gabbing these. The sound is better and you will get recording not covered in that set.
With Morrison and Reed now gone and any slim chance we had to see these guys live is gone it's nice to hear them in their youth putting out music that still is changing the face of music today!
on May 27, 2002
the velvet underground, in my opinion, were most together in their first 3 albums. their second, however(White Light/White Heat) is missing a spark that the other greats have. that leaves
two, The Velvet Underground and Nico, and The Velvet Underground as the velvet's best.
1. this album is uncomparable, totally different, another side, whatever you want to call it, yet great, to vu and nico. buy it.
i listen to these two in different moods and are therefore a success.
2. missing one star, i would sub 1/2 but i cant and i dont think the album is perfect and worthy of a five, because it lacks the extremes of vu and nico. vu soothes into the slower,more touching moods,(Jesus,Candy Says,Pale blue eyes)while nico sticks with the anger and filth(. they are both great, and worthy of your 11 dollars.
if you are looking for one at a time, i suggest to buy the third first and the 1st second. then go on to v.u, then go on to white light/white heat, then get the Lives, then loaded, but to stay away from sticky and untrue compilations. stick to the albums.
on March 12, 2002
I realize many other reviewers have put in their two cents on this album, but I feel compelled to add mine. Folks, this is, simply put, an ESSENTIAL album. Coming off the heels of their first two records which are like a building, brooding maelstrom of feedback and experimentalism, this is a very understated, quiet and personal record. Lou Reed at his most lucid and literate, yet still it rocks. Actually, to be more accurate, it ROLLS-- perhaps better than anything of its ilk before or since. With the Velvet's third album what we have is the template for SO many who followed in its wake and attempted to live up to it. Bands such as Big Star, Television, Acetone, the mega-hyped Strokes and innumerable others would have had no starting point if not for this astounding collection of songs.
A wide range of emotions is in evidence here: upbeat and humorous ("Beginning to See the Light"), sweet and hopeful ("After Hours"), confused and insular ("Murder Mystery"), sultry and scorching ("Some Kinda Love"), and utterly melancholy ("I'm Set Free", "Candy Says"). This is just a stellar album-- I cannot recommend it highly enough or say enough good things about it. I do not give 5 stars lightly, but this is classic and timeless. Light a couple of candles, put your mind at rest and sink right in. You will find a welcome respite from the world into a place you will want to revisit often.
on February 24, 2002
that this subdued, mostly acoustic, ethereal record would succeed White Light/White Heat? Im guessing that they felt like they had mined the feedback/shock thing as much as they could(few bands have gone further), and they were also free of customer expectations, because no one liked them.
Anyway, the thing is beautiful. A mix of poetic meditations and should be pop hits, with two very interesting cuts at the end. "The Murder Mystery" should satisfy those still wanting to hear the Velvets wax experimental. It's a spooky, rumbling 8 minute dirge with two separate stories being told at the same time, one from each speaker, which ends in some great manic piano pounding that should, if you're alive, give you chills. And closing the album is Mo Tucker's gentle "Afterhours", where she shows off her childlike, off key voice. Touching. She also sings one channel of "The Murder Mystery", but its kinda scary instead of moving. As I said above, what a polar shift for the group...going from not being able to hit a good vein for shooting up to writing about grace and Jesus Christ. Chew on that for a minute.
on February 9, 2002
After the sonic assault on the ears that was White Light/White Heat, this album was hardly expected. But there it is, 44 minutes of... well, quietness. Every single song on here (even The Murder Mystery) is relaxed. Of course, that's not to say that's a bad thing. Like the two albums that came before this one, all of the 10 tracks are quite excellent (yes, even That's The Story Of My Life and The Murder Mystery). The ones that pop out in my mind are What Goes On, Jesus, Beginning to See the Light, and After Hours. This album also marks the debut vocals of Doug Yule (John Cale's replacement) and Maureen Tucker; both of them sing well, but drummer Tucker has quite a beautiful voice, and even when she's off-key in The Murder Mystery, she still has that charm and cuteness to her that makes up for it.
So far, I've bought the first three VU albums in chronological order, so Loaded is the last stop. Hopefully I won't be let down with that album; if not, it looks like I have a real winner on my hands.