Weekend Listening: Loaded by The Velvet Underground
Listen while you read (volume may be loud):
Album: Loaded by The Velvet Underground
Released: November 1970 by Cotillion Records (Atlantic Records)
Recommended if you like: The film High Fidelity, single-friendly rock and roll that still has an edge to it, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop/The Stooges, Bob Dylan, harmonies that don’t sound cheezy
Notable Tracks: “Sweet Jane,” “Rock & Roll;” for High Fidelity fans: “Who Loves the Sun,” “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'”
So, Loaded has a difficult place in the history of The VU. If you don’t know much about this band, lightning-fast background: The Velvet Underground helped plant the seeds of what would later become full-blown punk music. Their music has very similar influences to what was going on around them at the time–folk and psychedelic rock happening fairly concurrently–but The VU were more experimental in their sound, and often cleaner. They were active from 1964 – 1973 (and a bit in the 90s) and were initially managed by Andy Warhol.
Loaded was the last studio album that the Velvet Underground did with Lou Reed. Lou Reed has FEELS about this album. He doesn’t like how it was mixed (which seems to be a recurring theme of that era of rock and roll music) and doesn’t like how certain tracks, like “Sweet Jane” and “Rock & Roll”, were edited. When all is said and done, though, it’s a really good rock ‘n’ roll album, receiving positive critical reviews from just about every-damn-body.
The Velvet Underground wrote Loaded to be more streamlined (ie, more commercial). While that backfires with a lot of artists, it works with The VU’s sound. Lou Reed was too good for true mindless pop, and it shines through in every track; we ended up not with a bunch of fluffy, throwaway songs, but some of the best pop rock songs in history. According to the Rolling Stone album guide, “[Loaded] was designed to translate fast, to go places, to give instant pleasure”, and it does. I can’t imagine being able to stay sad through the end of the first track or not singing along at the top of my voice when “Sweet Jane” comes on.
It’s good. It’s meant for listening to on a sunny day. What better album to welcome (finally) warm weather and sunshine?
How to listen to Loaded by The Velvet Underground: