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The Velvet Underground Make Some White Light and White Heat

On January 30, 1968, the Velvet Underground released their second studio album, White Light/White Heat.  Following the band’s first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, released in 1967, the band parted ways with manager Andy Warhol and vocalist Nico. White Light/White Heat came out several months later to mixed reviews and barely cracked the Billboard 200, hitting 199 for only two weeks before dropping off completely. It only began to pick up wide acclaim a decade or more after its release, and is now considered one of the seminal rock and roll records of all time, an early forerunner of punk, industrial, noise, and alternative, listed at number 293 on Rolling Stone500 greatest albums of all time list.

According to music review site Mojo, ” Where The Velvet Underground And Nico was a demonstration of breadth and vision, developed in near-invisibility even before the band met Warhol… White Light/White Heat was a more compact whiplash: the exhilarating guitar violence starting with the title track, peaking in Reed’s atonal-flamethrower solo in I Heard Her Call My Name; the experimental sung and spoken noir of Lady Godiva’s Operation and The Gift; the propulsive, distorted eternity of sexual candour and twilight drug life, rendered dry and real in Reed’s lethal monotone, in Sister Ray.”

Warhol had the idea for the all-black cover before he was fired by the band.

In 2013, Lou Reed said about the album, “No one listened to it. But there it is, forever – the quintessence of articulated punk. And no one goes near it.” The FourOhFive stated, “White Light/White Heat essentially gave birth to New York punk, thanks to songs like ‘Sister Ray’, the epic seventeen-minute closing jam built up around three brutal chords and painted with Reed’s graphic sexual storytelling.”

The album was recorded in just a few days at Mayfair Recording Studios at 701 Seventh Avenue, the former 1909 Loews Mayfair Theater that was demolished and rebuilt in 2017 as 20 Times Square – the almost billion-dollar Marriot boutique hotel and retail space.

Read more about Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground here.

You can support GVSHP by purchasing a Fred W. McDarrah photo of Nico hereAndy Warhol here, or The Velvet Underground at the Dom, 19-23 St. Marks Place, April 1, 1966 here.

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