Thursday, September 24, 2015

Velvet Underground - White Light White Heat (1968)

And we're back!  I'm still away from my turntable, (If you could call it that.) but I have access to a dope as all hell setup for a short while and I would be remiss to not take advantage of spinning some serious shit.  

This week, I'm picking an American classic.  NYC's own, Velvet Underground with what is in my opinion the single greatest album they ever did, White Light/White Heat.  Sure, their first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico was outstanding, but I'm giving the edge to their sophomore release simply because they really came into their own out of the NYC grit of the era.  Why you ask?

White Light White Heat

So hear me out first.  You'll listen to that and think, "Woah, this is kinda out there." but if you really listen to it you'll come to realize the genius that was behind the Velvet Underground.  It's in their lyrics.  When you have a poet for a songwriter you get some deeply profound lyrics.  Fiona Apple anyone?  In any event, Lou Reed was way ahead of his time with his craft and skill of writing.  He literally brought an alternative message to punk music.  The Velvet Underground practically invented nihilist punk.

Their 2nd single brought it even harder...

I Heard Her Call My Name

You see, the thing about The Velvet Underground is that they weren't conceived as a mainstream group.  They were part of NYC's gritty underground culture of the 1970's.  Remember anything you may have heard about Lower East side punks and artists?  The Velvet Underground were their voices.  Before the British Punk invasion went full tilt, NYC version or anarchy was established in SoHo.  They touched on themes semi relevant to their time.  Anything from sexual identiy, (Lady Godiva's Operation) to the downright mental, (The Gift).  The gift being an exercise in what happens when you marry a poem to experimental rock.

The Gift

This record has been released many times over the years, but nothing stands up to the original mastered one.  There's such a beautiful mess of psychedelia and instrumental wizardry going on here, you'll have to find either an original or a remastered mono release of this album to get every ounce of pain out of it.  The Velvet Underground wasn't taken too seriously when they broke onto the scene, but through the years their brilliance became the hallmark of all things American punk rock.  They stood for old school anarchy and they were a driving force behind movements of expression and rights.  Run and find this album anywhere you can get it  

Next week, something new...  Something to celebrate the dying weather outside.

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