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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Velvet Underground, Loaded September 5, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

What’s your favourite Velvet Underground album? I used to think it was their first. Moe Tucker is brilliant, Nico is great if forbidding. There’s so much to like about Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison’s and John Cale’s work too. But subsequently it never stuck with me as an album I wanted to listen to again and again. White Light White/White Heat, I’ve not heard in decades. Perhaps I should. But I liked that less than the first when I last heard it. And perhaps being overly contrarian I always preferred the covers of songs from it, not least Joy Division’s Sister Ray. I’ve no memory of ever hearing the third album which is good because it’s there to listen to (and What Goes On is a pretty amazing song).

But the one album I really love is Loaded from 1968. This is odd because in a way it is a most un-Velvet Underground Velvet Underground album. John Cale had blown the firetrap. Of the tracks, four are sung by bassist Doug Yule – a mixed pleasure, though Who Loves the Sun is pretty great. But then so many of the songs are great. Rock & Roll, Sweet Jane, Head Held High and the chugging Train Round the Bend. Tastes may differ on Lonesome Cowboy Bill, and it’s not my favourite but it’s a solid song, and the rest are pretty genius. There’s a joyousness to proceedings that is remarkable, as with Rock and Roll, that captures the emotion and contradiction of this most ephemeral cultural form. The discordant elements of the past are still in there, albeit no longer foregrounded – as in the guitar work on Train Round the Bend. But the vision is more… expansive.

It’s a remarkably well received album too, and I like this line in particular which I think sums it up neatly: Reviewing Loaded in Rolling Stone, Lenny Kaye wrote that “though the Velvet Underground on Loaded are more loose and straightforward than we’ve yet seen them, there is an undercurrent to the album that makes it more than any mere collection of good-time cuts”.

Rock and Roll

Train Round the Bend

Sweet Jane

Cool It Down

Who Loves the Sun


1. sonofstan - September 5, 2020

” I’ve no memory of ever hearing the third album which is good because it’s there to listen to”

The third album has probably been the most influential, being easy to copy. Half of US indie since the 80s owes that record.
My fave is the 1969 live record.

Liked by 1 person

2. WorldbyStorm - September 5, 2020

I can well believe that given What Goes On appears to have powered the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s career pretty much exhaustively to date.

I think I heard the live album years back. Would that be right. I must take a listen to it.

Which reminds me. One of my favourite musical moments ever was when Mark Steel the comedian opened a show on tv in the early to mid 90s late one evening kitted out in black leather jacket, sunglasses and with a backing band doing a chugging Velvets riff. I think he said something along the lines of ‘always wanted to do that’.


sonofstan - September 5, 2020
WorldbyStorm - September 5, 2020

Cheers for that.


3. Phil - September 5, 2020

_Loaded_, how to use:

1. Put side 1 on. Ba-ba-ba-ba-baaa… yeah, that’s nice. Bit bland though. OK to talk over this one.
2. Riff of Sweet Jane starts. All conversation ceases.
3. Rock and Roll. Everyone is now staring at the turntable, unable to move.
4. Cool it Down. Yeah, nice. OK to talk again – but actually, staring into space seems to work just as well.
5. New Age
6. New Age continues
7. Empires rise and fall.
7. Outro where someone seems to be trying to sound like Nico
8. Fade
9. Needle clicks around centre groove for a while before anyone really notices.
10. “Side two?” “Yeah… Actually no, I think I’ll crash…”

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - September 5, 2020

That’s quite realistic. Praise the Lord for CDs!


4. pettyburgess - September 5, 2020

I’m one of the many who in theory approves more of the VU with Cale but in practice listens more often to the VU with Yule.


WorldbyStorm - September 5, 2020

Me too. Cake is great but Yule has a garage rock power I think


5. NFB - September 5, 2020

It appears you’ve embedded “Gotta Knock A Little Harder” by Yoko Kano from the Cowboy Bebop movie here instead of “Train Round The Bend”. Not that I’m complaining. The Bebop soundtracks are things I listen to all the time.


WorldbyStorm - September 5, 2020

Apologies and snap, I love those OST’s though there’s one I can’t find in any format.

Liked by 1 person

6. sonofstan - September 5, 2020

One of my favourite post-Velvets bands doing one of my favourite VU trax (and a few others)

Liked by 1 person

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