Album no. 153/1001
It’s The Velvets, again! But not John Cale. That’s sad.
Lou Reed was deliberately steering the band in a different direction, away from the experimental stuff.
The rest of the band were on board, with Maureen Tucker mentioning she liked ‘the new calmness of the group’. There is still the occasional weirdo moment on this album, but mostly it’s a collection of surprisingly straightforward rock/pop tunes!
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: I have.
CL: No, I haven’t.
NK: Tough call, but unlike White Light White Heat it’s tough because all the songs are pretty similar and slightly disappointing. Even when there are loud guitars the arrangements are all so safe. It’s like a normal rock album! The most Velvet Underground track is ‘The Murder Mystery’ where they all read lyrics over the top of one another for nine minutes, and there’s an interesting guitar part. However for my standout I nominate ‘After Hours’, a sad but upbeat-sounding Lou Reed song with a rare lead vocal from Maureen Tucker. Those two are the best of a bad bunch.
CL: I quite like ‘What Goes On’, but not because it pushes any particular boundaries. It’s a pretty standard rock song. It’s really tame! I’m pretty disappointed. I thought this was going to be CRAZY-WEIRD. But sadly not.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: If anybody tells you that this is their favourite Velvet Underground album, it’s probably not worth being friends with that person.
CL: That’s a fair point. I’d put those folk in the same category as those who consider mayonnaise too spicy.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: When I listen to this I can hear the beginnings of Lou Reed’s solo stuff, particularly Transformer. This is pretty large departure for the band. They’ve done the opposite of Captain Beefheart and gone way more normal than their last album. It’s really interesting to listen to, you can really hear what John Cale was bringing to the band (all the weird stuff). But you can hear it because it’s not there, and it’s not as good. Lou Reed’s lyrics are good, but I wish Cale had stuck around.
CL: I don’t know! This album is weird. It’s like they’ve gone in the opposite direction to most rock acts – they’ve started out doing their experimental thing, then worked backwards to become super commercial. Perhaps this is was their own form of being rebellious? I’m not sure.
Will you be listening again?
NK: Ahh, probably not. ‘After Hours’ is still really good, but I don’t know, this album doesn’t really do anything.
CL: Nup. I don’t reckon. It’s too boring!
Listen to The Velvet Underground on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.