The Velvet Underground | Loaded

 
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Family Average: 6/7

Welcome one and all to our very first of many NYC throwback reviews. This series will focus on notable acts to come out of the big apple through the decades. What other way to kick it off than with the Velvet Underground’s Loaded. Released in November 15, 1970 Loaded is the fourth album by the legendary group. Lou, Nico, and the rest of the gang are all here. Singing songs about life in the city during an era gone by. Its grimy, its gritty, and all other kinds of wonderful. Lets all see what the family had to say some fifty years on. 

Look below and see what the family had to say.

 
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Wowow okay hello we have “Loaded” by the Velvet Underground this week. Iconic, the influence. Sorry, just had to get that in there. 

If New York City was a person, this album would be the personification of them. Gritty, not the prettiest, dirty, dark, smelly and dangerous but better than you. Low quality but unapologetic and just good, and did I mention, better than you. 

“Who Loves The Sun” is a good way to open this off, it's a good example of Lou Reed’s somber lyrics delivered in a numb way as if to say “it's no big deal, it's just the way it is.” 

The next track, “Rock and Roll” gives us some brain pleasing guitar. 

In his tracks he illustrates little real moments that stick in your head, my favorite art is one the reproduces specific, real moments.

Love the opening lines to  “New Age,” “Can I have your autograph / he said to the fat blonde actress.” Another line that stuck was “she can’t tell night from the day” in “Oh Sweet Nuthin.”

Other tracks to mention would be of course “Sweet Jane,” one that’s dear to me I just love the instrumentals (not sure what they are) in the beginning and then we slow down and get that iconic don’t give a fuck monotone-ish talking of Lou Reed. 

I also love his slower tracks like “I Found a Reason.” A tender track and with that line, “I do believe you are what you perceive.” 

The energy and life of that place and time are dripping from this album. 

6/7

 
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Well I opened up this LP and listened to the first track without reading the name of the artist. I was blown away, I said “finally some really great music that I can relate to” I must find out who the creator of this music is. Then I read that it was Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. 

This music is iconic and encapsulates New York City in the late 70’s early 80’s. The The Village was abuzz with creative characters. You had painters, photographers, musicians and most importantly cheap apartments and live music in small clubs. A stand out track for me has to be “Rock and Roll” Janey put on a “New York Station” and her life was changed by rock and roll. I think a lot of us can relate to this line. Lou Reed’s music is a bit primitive but that is part of the appeal, when you play the LP you are transported to a club in lower Manhattan. You could just hear the beer bottles clacking and feel the sticky beer drenched floor beneath your feet. Your soul is free float above the venue where the stage lights illuminate the fog which adds to the feeling of floating with the music. 

Another fav of mine is “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” I always felt that this track was a nod to all of the L.A. cowboy bands, of the same time period. Bands like The Bryds, New Riders, Burrito Brothers and Gram Parsons, who spent some time in New York City with his band, The International Submarine Band before settling in LA and getting produced by Terry Melcher ( Doris Day’s son) who also produced the Beach Boys and the Byrds. In “Train Round the Bend” Reed against dabbles in the LA Cowboy genre, with his apologetic line “I’m really a city boy, not a country guy”. This era in music was truly my favorite period of time, with lots of great artists in New York and LA sharing ideas and sounds. 

7/7 with extreme bias  

 
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The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed will forever have my heart. Both are consistently listed as some of the most influential and inspiring music to have emerged from New York and American Rock and Roll, and with good reason. Reed is an utter vanguard and poet, and this album showcases not only his refined song-writing, but his ability to churn out pure hits for the masses. 

Loaded is a classic through and through. It doesn't quite have the street cred or cool factor of the other albums -- it's not the Warhol associated, Nico-tinged psychedelic trip, nor does it have the avant garde fuzz and grit of the earlier work. That being said, it's a pretty perfectly composed rock album that solidified both the band and Reed as distinct personas and artists within the collective consciousness. 

The album is Reed's final studio album with the full band, and adheres to it's title; its "loaded" with hits that brought the Velvet Underground into the mainstream. With a deft ability, Reed marries a pop sensibility with the rougher, gruffer nature and vibe of NYC's more underground rock scene. The influences and styles are varied and compelling -- there's some honky-tonk in there, some hippy-psych stuff, and some good old ballads. Reed has an impressive ability to craft vignettes within each song, and illustrates a vivid cast of characters. 

Loaded contains some of my favorite songs of all time: "Rock and Roll" is bouncy but heavy tune that deals with the transformative power of music; "Sweet Jane," will forever and always be played on every oldies station purely because it is gold; "I Found a Reason" is a poignant ballad," and "Oh! Sweet Nothing" is a fantastic epic of wonderful bass lines and some equally fantastic drumming. 

Apologies for the rant -- I just hold this album near and dear to my heart. It may be kinda cliché to like this one so much, but every time I listen to this record it just feels good and decadent and takes me on a trip of musical storytelling. It's a visceral experience and will forever be a favorite. 

7/7 

 
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Hello there Louie, Nico, and the rest of the gang. I was pleasantly surprised to see this gaggle of classic tunes make it up on the queue for today.  Loaded, or Herbie Fully Loaded as it is called in some small circles tells the heartwarming story of a girl who has a romantic relationship with a car. Nobody can stop Lindsay Lohan now! Her career is going straight to the top baby! 

Okay well I guess now I should say some things about the record huh? Aside from being one of the best rock albums to be put out in the 1970’s the plastic waffle also manages to distil a timeless portrait of the city of New York. Doesn’t that sound pretty? Well it’s not actually its grimey, dangerous, and teeming with bacteria in my opinion the best kind of climate for great art to be produced. There are drug pushers, broken hearts, drug takers, murderers, all kinds of characters turn up in this. It is all brought to you through the poetic mouth tubes of Lou Reed.

The more times I hear this record the more I appreciate the way Lou Reed writes/delivers the lyrics. The words all just pour out of the guys mouth like a fountain on a hot summer day. Nobody could stop that darn fountain if they tried, nobody would ever want to.

I am going to close on a weird not here because I want to ask a question about a song on the record that has been bugging me for some time. Is the track “Head Held High” meant to be making fun of the Rolling Stones? If it is I applaud it for being some biting satire, otherwise I am left completely confused why they made the song. That is all thank you for tuning in.

5/7

 
Sean Maldjian