This is the last genuine album by The Velvet Underground before the record companies unofficially took over the band and destroyed the remnants of it for what it was worth. It does not feature either female German singer Nico, or the odd sounds of electric viola by John Cale that were present on early records, particularly on The Velvet Underground & Nico. Instead, the band led by Lou Reed pursued the unthinkable: a straightforward set of Pop/Rock pieces that, although weren’t exactly reinvention and plain weird to the nth degree of previous records, have been fairly well-received over time. Let’s take the time to observe this album track by track.
Who Loves The Sun begins with a gorgeous electric guitar, before immediately launching into a stripped-down and straightforward Pop/Rock piece that sounds gorgeous and terrific. Harmonies are everywhere, as well as a pacing tempo and a brilliant song indeed. A really great and simple piece to begin this album with, and it is irresistible listening from start to finish. It doesn’t sound anything like previous efforts by The Velvet Underground and has a cool and super short acoustic guitar solo, with harmonies to match. Great effort, and a genuinely cool tune. Nice.
Sweet Jane comes next and begins with some pitch-shifted and gorgeous melodic guitar parts before Lou Reed gets singing away very well. A really chilled tune about a lover, this sounds excellent and wonderful. Really awesome and well-delivered music, it is no surprise that this album (for The Velvet Underground at least) had some commercial success. This is brilliant, lovely, pretty and a real Rock piece of wonder. An excellent song to enjoy, and four minutes of purely great and amazing listening. There are more gorgeously delicious harmonies towards the end, before na-na-nas enter to complete this amazing song. This is followed by a gritty organ-led fade out. Awesome.
Rock and Roll begin with some busy guitar work, both acoustic and electric, along with some cruising drum parts. Lou Reed sings nicely over the top of it all, and this piece is really energetic, interesting and quite singalong, too. Definitely, unlike the first few albums by The Velvet Underground, this is a polished and commercial sounding effort. It is a really great devotion to the wonderful and lovely brand of great Rock and Roll. There is a crazy-sounding guitar solo to spice things up, which is cool and interesting. Lou Reed sings in a very melodic way, unusually for him compared to earlier efforts. In the second half, a breakdown occurs before guitars return to take charge. Then follows a climactic finale that will bring a smile to your face. Excellent music, and definitely underrated listening.
Cool It Down launches straight into a semi-Country esque piece that sounds really awesome and refreshing. A really lyrically interesting and musically consistent song, it sounds really great and fun to listen to. Very straightforward and decent music, this is exactly what pure Rock and Roll should be sounding like. These songs are rather short for the most part, being all under the five-minute length (for most of the album). There is some pretty piano instead of a guitar solo, followed by some awesome melodies, all the way to the end. Great, great music. Very wonderful.
New Age begins with some clean guitar arpeggio parts that match each other perfectly, as this song was lifted from the previous self-titled album by The Velvet Underground but is sung by Doug Yule. Still, this sounds really fresh and amazing, despite that. There is zero pretention on this album, and it sounds wonderfully lovely and great simultaneously. It is a slow and pretty ballad that fits this album very well and just sounds incredibly good. The song is nicely crafted and there are some unique and grand harmonies to listen to. The song title itself may refer to the dawn of the Age Of Aquarius but sounds amazing, regardless of intention. The extended instrumental outro is sublime. Great listening.
Head Held High has an interesting intro with harmonies that float into the mix, before launching into a rambling sort of tune that sounds a lot like Captain Beefheart with hoarse singing. This is one of the lesser songs on this album, but by all means, worth hearing as well on this musical journey. There are majestic slide guitars, handclaps, loud drumming and a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Great and gorgeous effort, the guitars and drums are particularly noteworthy on this song. Wonderful and different listening, it is another good song on this album worth hearing.
Lonesome Cowboy Bill begins with some strummed acoustic guitars, Fender Telecaster style sounds and upbeat rhythms. This is an answer to contemporary Southern USA music of the time and just sounds really cool and catchy. A nice tune to bop along to at home, or to blast in a car, The Velvet Underground may sound very commercial on this record, but still, they do extremely well. The drumming here is absolutely fantastic and drives this gorgeous tune very well. A fine and fantastic number, all the way to the fade-out.
I Found A Reason begins with soft and gentle guitar playing before lovely harmonies like The Beach Boys enter. Soon enough, Lou Reed begins singing and sounds on top of this song. An amazing and well-delivered ballad, this is monumentally great. It may be too soft and slow for some, but to be fair, this is very beautiful music. The lyrics on this song match that, and the whole thing is definitely straightforward and impressive sounding. A very nice listen, and it just sounds really great. Refreshing and different, this does sound really amazing. A nice romantic piece of music from start to finish.
Train Round The Bend begins with some rather random sounds, including a strange piercing guitar sound, before Lou Reed sings in a more ambivalent way that is more typical of his singing style. Some clean yet raunchy guitars follow, and this piece sounds ridiculously good. It is a really cool song that, although perhaps not as good as other songs on the album, sounds simple yet impressive. The whole thing sounds different and stripped down musically, but succeeds very well. Great listening to this song, and the album indeed, is here for you to enjoy to the full.
Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ is the last song on this album and sounds very 1970s from the start, with glorious vocals by Doug Yule. It has a really excellent and subdued song introduction, before the singing kicks in, which sounds wonderful. Perhaps The Velvet Underground was paying complete attention to Pop/Rock trends of the time? Whatever may be the case, this is a beautiful, pretty and simple song for one to enjoy. This is also seven minutes long, but like all lengthy songs that work well, this is totally impressive to hear. A timeless and wondrous piece of music that does work brilliantly. The guitar solos take you to another place, and this is The Velvet Underground’s Hey Jude moment. Clever, cool and classy, it is really sad that this album does not get the recognition that it should. The drum rolls are cleverly placed and power this brilliant tune along. Very much top music, this is impressive and great listening. The second half has looped harmony based singing, fantastic drumming, terrific guitar work and a sense that something truly great is here. Great tunes, and a fine exit to a very underrated album. The repeated harmonies continue before the song, and album, finishes softly. Excellent.
This is the most accessible and easiest listening album from The Velvet Underground. Sure, some of their earlier efforts were perhaps more consistent and different in comparison to this album. However, this album gets top marks for what it is. Simple, beautiful and effective tunes that deserve repeat listens, this is an amazing album if you are looking for such a listen. Sadly, The Velvet Underground lost Lou Reed shortly after the release of this album and singer Doug Yule had to battle it out with stupid recording management, which did not end well for him, especially as the management wanted to pay his royalties as copies of the next album by The Velvet Underground. That is, however, a whole different story. Still, these songs are solid gold. Take a listen to this album today. Fans of The Velvet Underground will be pleased to know remastered deluxe versions of this album are available, so be sure to check them out if interested.
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