||From the Vault...
"White Light/White Heat"
© Verve Records
Year of Release: 196
White Light White Heat
Lady Godiva's Operation
Here She Comes Now
I Heard Her Call My Name
Velvet Underground related sites:
"White Light/White Heat"
Lou Reed had his beginnings in the late 1960s with The Velvet Underground,
a band that was not only psychedelic rock, but they would later be a foundation
in what would be called Punk Rock in the 1970s. "White Light/White Heat",
released in 1968, defines unusual psychedelic rock and noise.
The title track "White Light/White Heat" has the mixture of
psychedelic rock and punk.
"The Gift" is a spoken word story, based on the characters Waldo and
Marsha. Lou Reed narrates the story, heard on the left speaker (in a thick
British accent), with psychedelic music heard on the right. Waldo and Marsha
had been separated due to Marsha's infidelity. As time went by, Marsha had been
faithful, and Waldo was thinking about Marsha again. He wanted to surprise her
by sending himself in a box by mail as the "gift." When the gift arrives,
Marsha and a friend, find it difficult to open. They use numerous methods
to open the gift, while Waldo waits inside the box. Exhausted, Marsha takes
a break, while Marsha's friend takes a long blade and uses it to open the box.
Unfortunately, as she shoves the blade in the box, the blade is also inserted
into Waldo's head. This song is best heard using headphones, by slipping off
the right-sided speaker off your head, so you can easily hear the left-sided
speaker and this bizarre story.
"Lady Godiva's Operation" is another venture into psychedelic rock.
"Here She Comes Now" has a bouncy pop style, yet it's vocals makes it
another addition into mellow psychedelia. "I Heard Her Call My Name"
rocks into hard rock/psychedelic, as well as Animals-rock blues. It features
just about every possible type of rock of the late Sixties: The blues rock of
The Animals, psychedelic guitar as in Jimi Hendrix, and as a whole, it's
psychedelic punk. "Sister Ray", like the title track, is another
psychedelic rock number, with its strange vocal and psychedelic stylings.
This nearly 20-minute song is deep psychedelia, bizarre and "trippin'."
(This one may be a little rough on the ears; again, it's strange.)
Strange is a good word to describe the Velvet Underground. Their music
was not only psychedelic as in most rock groups at the time, yet their music
was much harder than the average psychedelia; their music you could probably
say was ahead of their time. Speaking of which, their music would later be
categorized as punk, as they would be major influences to many of the popular
punk rock groups that would later surface in the 1970s. Their music can
easily be compared to such acts as Patti Smith and the early years of David
For the 1960s psychedelic rock fan, the Velvet Underground will achieve
interest. The Velvet Underground's music takes a while to digest, yet their
music has been a major influence to many. They never became a household name
as, say a Jimi Hendrix or Jefferson Airplane. The band's lead singer, Lou
Reed, would have an interesting solo career, just as interesting as his music
was achieved when he was in the group before him, The Velvet Underground.
His trademark solo song, "Walk On The Wild Side" would become a classic,
both musically and lyrically. "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll" was sung in Reed's
music, mostly drugs with the Velvet Underground ("Heroin"), and sex in
"Walk On The Wild Side". (How many people tried to figure out what he
was singing about when he sang: "But she never lost her head, even when she's
giving head" ???)
Even today, after listening to Reed's music, as in White Light/White
Heat, some people are still trying to figure what Reed was, and still is,
singing about. The answers are: Social Alienation, Sexual Deviancy, Drug
Addiction, Violence, and Hopelessness. (Best defined from
ROLLING STONE Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll)
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