Velvet Underground

velvet
The Velvet Underground
Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition
Rhino
by David Chiu

After three albums of mainly music that bordered on the avant garde and experimental side, the Velvet Underground embraced a more radio-friendly sound with 1970’s Loaded, which turned out to be the final band studio record featuring Lou Reed. Shedding the abrasive and noisy rock that characterized the John Cale era of The Velvet Underground and Nico and White Light/White Heat, Loaded smoothed out the rough parts for something accessible for a bid at the mainstream but without compromising the edginess that defined the band’s aura of cool. The result was something quite spirited and at times sublime as well as cohesive, and Loaded yielded two of the band’s most beloved songs: “Sweet Jane” and “Rock and Roll.” It’s not to say the rest of Loaded is full of filler; on the contrary, there are several strong tracks in the melancholy “New Age” and “Oh Sweet Nothing,” the very poppy “Who Loves the Sun,” the funky swagger of “Cool It Down,” and the fiery rocker “Head Up High.” Like the other records in the history of VU, this album never became a commercial hit, despite what its sound might indicate—had Reed stayed in the band, who know what direction the band could’ve taken post-Loaded. To mark this now-classic record’s 45th anniversary comes this deluxe edition that contains the original album in both stereo and mono versions; Live at Max’s Kansas City, recorded during VU’s memorable residency at that NYC venue; demos and rarities from the period (i.e. a remix of “I’m Sticking With You,” “Ocean” ; and a previously unreleased concert from 1970 in Philadelphia. That newly-unearthed show is a rough listen—not because of the music or performance– but just the sonic quality as it was recorded by a fan on reel-to-reel; yet its bootleg quality makes it still feel special. As with all the previous reissued VU albums in the last year, this new edition of Loaded is magnificent, capturing the band at its last legs, though you wouldn’t know it by the timeless quality of the music.

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