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Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat (1967) & Gene Clark – White Light (1971)

December 5, 2020

[Albums 814 & 815 / 1001]

“What’s the deal with _______?”
– Jerry Seinfeld

Everyone’s got ‘that’ artist (or ‘those’ artists).

The one(s) that the rest of the planet seems to revere, yet leaves you somewhat…bemuse-ed.

For me, for years, The Velvet Underground has been near the top of that list.

That is, until I found myself total engaged in the second track from White Light/White Heat, the 8+ minute tale, The Gift.

Although it (*spoiler alert*) doesn’t end terribly well for the protagonist, I found I was totally drawn in by the story.

And then on the follow-up track, the jarringly loud ‘sweetly’ caught my attention in a good way, and helped sustain my attention & enthusiasm the rest of the way.

I wouldn’t say that we’re, to quote another Seinfeld-ism, ‘Hot & Heavy’ just yet.

But it’s nice to start to get the appeal!


As for Gene’s White Light, there was no such light-bulb moment.

But that’s only because there was absolutely no mystery with the appeal here for me.

Quality originals, yet another solid Dylan interpretation (this time the Dylan/Manuel song, Tears of Rage), and the gentle / string-bendin’ / bass-wanderin’ / harmonica-enhanced Where My Love Lies Asleep is about as up my street as it gets.

Whatever the deal is with Gene’s brand of country rock, I’m a fan!


Verbalize the Positive

I was delighted to be able to use the Seinfeld ‘write-off’ scene in accounting recently, when we talking about the process for writing off uncollectible accounts.

Better yet, several of the students were already familiar with the show!

From → 1960s, 1970s

  1. Now I haven’t gotten in to VU yet although I would kill to find that nico album with the banana unpeeled. That would be sweet to add to the collection.

    • Holen permalink

      I’ve got the box set with all their albums and the sticker’s unpeeled like the original LP.

    • Holen permalink

      The “Peel Slowly and See” box set. My opinion on their oeuvre.

      The Velvet Underground & Nico – total classic. Some great songs mixed with a nice balance of noise rock experimentation courtesy of John Cale. Never a dull moment! Nico’s vox are interesting, not that good, but I think they work for the material. Not like Lou is an all star singer either, but he can carry a tune better here than you’d expect later.

      White Light/White Heat – probably my least favorite. They go all in with the noise portion, but when I’m in the mood it’s great. Amp feedback destruction. “The Gift” is quite captivating as our host said.

      The Velvet Underground – John Cale is gone replaced by Doug Yule, a gifted singer with a smooth Beatles-esque timbre. The songs are way more stripped down and quiet on the whole, almost the opposite of the previous, but they still have a trick or two up their sleeves. I prefer the Val Valentin over the Lou Reed “Closet mix” honestly. Val’s is more balanced. Closet mix is a nice alternative though. May work better on a few songs.

      Loaded – the most commercial. Just a good straightforward rock album. Really nothing mind-bending about this one. It’s just a really solid rock album. One to check out even if their early stuff doesn’t do it for you.

  2. I just checked, Geoff. And this is the first ever review of White Light/White Heat that hasn’t mentioned Sister Ray in the history of the universe. Your monogramed Ray gun is in the mail. Well done, Sir!

  3. Cool that your students know the Seinfeld references. Maybe an extra % point or 2 for those kids. Not telling you what to do though! lol.
    Just saying.

  4. jprobichaud permalink

    It took me a while to appreciate Velvet Underground but nowadays, they’re quite revered. I don’t have this one on vinyl yet but have my eye out. I, too, love the story of The gift. I love the live version of it too.

    • I’m intrigued by the sounds of the live version, I imagine there’s no alternate ending?
      Poor Waldo!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        Poor Waldo, indeed. The schmuck…

  5. I wasn’t quick to the VU thing either, but over time they grew on me, like a fungus. As for Gene Clark, well, that’s an easy one, as you said. Right on!

  6. I found White Heat/White Light at the mission thrift last year. After giving it a spin, I didn’t really understand the appeal but I’m too afraid to get rid of it because I might one day.

  7. Sister Ray is simply one of the best most outrageous things ever committed to vinyl. WLWH is an outrageous slab of pure antimatter. Thats my 5 cents for ya.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Busy Calendar Years | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1967 | 1001albumsin10years
  3. 1971 | 1001albumsin10years
  4. 1 album in 1 day! | 1001albumsin10years

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