Bargain Bin: The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat


Drugs, dodgy lobotomies and a wayward ‘sister’ more concerned by the fact blood will ‘stain the carpet’ than a murder. Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat seemed somewhat out of place in the midst of the pop records of a second-hand vinyl store in Dublin where I found it.

The album’s black cover is deceptively demure, giving no hint of the sounds within that jut out like a broken thumb of most genres. It’s a mongrel of composition, yet it all strangely fits together. A catchy chorus fuses with the aural replication of the effects of amphetamine usage in the bass of the title track. A flip of the record and the beautifully calm tones of ‘Here She Comes Now’ slams into the assaulting feedback of ‘I Heard Her Call My Name’. But the record’s masterpiece comes in the final furious seventeen minutes. ‘Sister Ray’ has garnered a legendary status as a bizarre mutated jam – many have heard of it, yet few have man- aged to sit through its’ entirety. The three chord jam creates genius out of simplicity, a cacophony that is held together by Lou Reed’s drawling narrative. Instead of shunning this lengthy track, I want to move the needle back and start again. If my speakers can handle it, that is.


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