Velvet Underground: Lou Reed (vocals, guitar, piano); Sterling Morrison (vocals, guitar, bass); John Cale (vocals, electric viola, organ, bass); Maureen Tucker (percussion).
WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, the Velvet Underground's second album, is the band at their most calculated and perverse, but also shows another side. It is a glimpse of the more accessible rock which Lou Reed wrote, but wasn't fully comfortable with until the group's third album. WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT also introduced guitar sounds and production so abrasive that the feel wasn't duplicated until even punk had matured into New York's downtown art/noise scene nearly twenty years later.
WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT is an exhausting exercise in opposites. The aching beauty of "Here She Comes Now" features a delicate guitar melody and Reed's most innocent vocals since the debut's "Sunday Morning"; it sniffs around Lou's taste for ballads, but throws in the cruel "oh she looks so good/oh she's made out of wood" refrain for effect. The title track would even be playful if not for the instrumental speed rushes and vocal harmonies so discordant they're sinister. It also turns out to be a perfect primer for "Sister Ray," a depraved freak show of prostitutes, junkies and what happens when the cops come banging at the door. Musically, "Sister Ray" is a jarring guitar crash, clocking in at 17:25, fully showing the Velvet's musical ferociousness. As organ washes clash with jagged locomotive guitars, Reed whirls off descriptions of sailors and transsexuals who "want to know a way to earn a dollar." Such snapshots into the Velvet Underground's twin sides make WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT indispensable.
- Format: Vinyl
- Released: 2/22/2019