John Cale left The Velvet Underground shortly prior to this album release. Obviously, he and vocalist Lou Reed had musical differences. With the addition of newcomer Doug Yule to the group, could The Velvet Underground still make great music? This album is seen as an oddity in their back catalogue, but a very good one at that. Let’s take a listen and find out if this is the case.
We begin with the extremely mellow Candy Says which is totally unlike anything else that The Velvet Underground recorded before or after this album. It’s easy listening pop/rock music that is actually surprisingly very good. A nice relaxing song to close your eyes to and listen. A strong starting point for this album, great job well done here by The Velvet Underground. Some whimsical lyrics are here, which makes this song much more appealing than you’d expect. Some good harmonies are here towards the end of the song. A great listen, despite it being totally different to anything else out there.
Next is What Goes On which is a superb listen, a little more upbeat and optimistic here. It is extremely catchy and moving, which is unusual for The Velvet Underground. A strange keyboard and guitar solo is in the middle here. A very good pop/rock piece for you to sink your teeth into. The jam goes on for some time before Lou Reed returns to sing some very memorable lyrics. Top-notch? You bet! Another great song here. There are some large instrumental breaks in this track which make it more memorable and listenable than you would expect.
Some Kinda Love begins with some clean Fender Stratocaster guitars, before Lou Reed begins singing with impressionistic lyricism, oddly for The Velvet Underground, about the direct nature of love. It is a good listen anyway, and still sounds amazing and fresh today. There is a pounding beat throughout, which is actually somewhat like a House/Techno beat. A very good listening experience, great to hear. Somewhat like a piece that The Rolling Stones would do, it is another great listen.
Pale Blue Eyes is such a beautiful song, so much so that it is a bit of a tearjerker. A fantastic listen, and is a great love song. Yes, you read that right, it is a love song by The Velvet Underground. This is a nice, reflective piece with beautiful guitar parts and great singing to match it. A legendary song, and one to listen to when in a romantic mood. Totally underrated, and worth listening to. A deeply powerful and emotional song to listen to when the mood strikes.
Next up is the song called Jesus which starts with some strange arrangements and melodies to boot. It is a beautiful song for those of you who are Christian or simply acknowledge the story of Jesus Christ. It is wonderfully sung and delivered very well. Lou Reed proves to be an underrated singer and does very well here. A simple and lovely tune to listen to, the music here is very good.
Following is the rock and roll tune Beginning To See The Light which is well done and straightforward in its appeal. It is a very clean, crisp and nicely arranged song with some unusual lyrics in it. Lou Reed yelps and borderline yodels throughout this song, he sounds very joyous here. The title of the song is chanted repeatedly, but sounds very awesome anyway. Good effort by The Velvet Underground. Fun and catchy. Towards the end, the phrase, “How does it feel to be loved?” is chanted as well. Good tune.
I’m Set Free is really beautiful, no question about it. There is some good tom-tom drumming here, clanging guitars and a sense of optimism on this song. The Velvet Underground sure knew how to make great tunes, and this is proof of one of the many tunes that they did excellently well. A different sounding guitar solo is here, which sounds like an unusual guitar to choose for this song to play the solo on. The material on this album is superb, and totally underrated.
That’s The Story Of My Life sounds amazing, with strummed acoustic guitar and gentle percussion for Lou Reed to sing precisely over the top. A nice and relaxing sort of listen, there is a trippy guitar solo in the middle of it. A tune like this, even being a lesser tune from this album, is really well done. Good job.
Next is the extended piece The Murder Mystery which starts off in a musically random way, before organ kicks in. Some duel vocals there enter the scene, before (surprisingly) a song of The Beatles is referenced here. The music here goes in between a mellow song section and a double vocal take of a stream of consciousness. It is an interesting, somewhat non-musical listen. A clever and well thought out artistic piece, this is another great listen. The whole thing is pretty wacky. Very 1960s, and very good. A very strange but essential musical experience. The second half of the song has some unforgettable piano that sounds wonderful with some rhythmically placed vocals to match. Seriously, this is a great listen. Various musical elements build up, mainly with the pianos here. It ends with piano going strong.
Lastly is After Hours is a piece sung by The Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker. It is reassuring and good listening about being with a lover at the end of the day. Another quintessential listen with acoustic guitar, a great way to finish off this great album. A gentle and calm conclusion.
This is a totally underrated album and most people who listen to this album do agree. It also shows that The Velvet Underground were capable of making radio-friendly pop/rock music. It is amazing and awe-inspiring, and in its own way, has never been matched. A great album and a great listening experience.