Mon. May 20th, 2024

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Album Review: The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat (45th Anniversary Edition)

2 min read

The world recently mourned the death of Lou Reed – deadpan poet, songwriter, the Stravinsky of guitar feedback. The reaction to this news was profound; one that would have been unimaginable in 1968 when Reed’s band The Velvet Underground released their musically seditious second album White Light/White Heat to muffled acclaim. The record, though, has been hailed by a dedicated many as the band’s magnum opus; a disturbed, driving, drug-fuelled proto-punk masterpiece. Lou Reed himself has said of White Light/White Heat, ‘No one listened to it. But there it is, forever – the quintessence of articulated punk. And no one goes near it.’

The Velvet Underground White Heat45 years later and the record is back on the radar. Not that it ever really faded – it has discreetly been exerting a great influence on punk and art rock bands through the decades, and Rolling Stone recognised the album as one of their top 500 of all time. And this deluxe anniversary reissue is no half-arsed attempt to throw together a few tracks hastily as some meagre celebration of the late Reed’s career. Instead, before Lou’s death, both he and John Cale, the other major creative force behind The Velvet Underground (before he left the group, of course), collaborated to produce this essential instalment.

This reissue of White Light/White Heat features remastered versions of the original mono and stereo releases of the record. Also featured are four new remixes, including Guess I’m Falling In Love, Hey Mr Rain (two versions) and a previously unreleased early version of Beginning To See The Light. Other previously unreleased gems that are present on this anniversary edition are two versions of The Gift – one vocal and one instrumentaland the complete Live At The Gymnasium recordings, most of which had previously only been available on bootlegs.

Going all out and purchasing the White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary ‘Super Deluxe’ Edition (rather than the plain old ‘Standard Deluxe’) will also get you a nifty-looking hardcover book of photos, memorabilia and interviews, which I unfortunately did not have the pleasure of perusing as part of this review. However, such an addition is only a bonus to what is already a necessary component in any die-hard Velvet Underground fan’s collection.