White Light/White Heat is the second studio album by American rock band the Velvet Underground. Released on January 30, 1968, on Verve Records, it was the band's last studio recording with multi-instrumentalist and founding member John Cale. Recorded after Reed fired Andy Warhol, who had produced their debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico, they hired Steve Sesnick as a manager and hired producer Tom Wilson who had worked on the band's debut. White Light/White Heat was engineered by Gary Kellgren. The album includes lyrically transgressive themes like their debut, exploring topics such as sex, amphetamines, and drag queens. Reed was inspired by a variety of authors, including William S. Burroughs and Alice Bailey, and the lyrics create a cast of characters, such as in "The Gift" and those named in "Sister Ray". Musically, he took influence from jazz music and players such as saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Warhol conceived the album's cover art, although he is officially uncredited. White Light/White Heat was recorded quickly and modeled after the band's live sound and techniques of improvisation, since they often played loud with new equipment from an endorsement deal with Vox. However, the final product was compressed and distorted-–most members were dissatisfied with the final product and it was followed with the less experimental The Velvet Underground the following year; Cale would leave the band later in 1968. The distortion level became a prototype for punk rock and noise rock. The 17-minute "Sister Ray" is widely considered the standout track by critics and fans. White Light/White Heat sold fewer copies than The Velvet Underground & Nico, and peaked at 199 on the Billboard Top LPs chart. The album's only single, "White Light/White Heat", failed to chart, which the band blamed on airplay bans and lack of promotion from Verve. The album was dismissed by many contemporary mainstream music critics, although underground newspapers took notice. Ultimately, White Light/White Heat had a hugely significant impact on early forms of punk rock and no wave and has appeared on several lists of the greatest albums of all time.Wikipedia
My friend Dave and I spent a heady weekend back in 1969 tripping to this colossal record on some ridiculously strong hallucinogen. It was pure liquid acid, dripped onto centimetre cubes of plaster of paris, which you had to keep in the freezer to prevent the drug evaporating. Having chewed and swallowed a cube apiece, we listened to “Sister Ray” at huge volume, pinioned in our chairs. It was my first and only true synaesthetic experience: I could actually see this music, a turbulent, roiling maelstrom in which, though merely mono, the various constituent elements were clearly visible as a three-dimensional sculpture of visual sound. Dave died.
pretty fucking horrible
These boys either need to get laid or take a break from fucking. I can't tell which.
This album had a 17 minute electric jazz song about a blowjob.
Oh fuck off
VU at its best
this album kinda OWNAGE maybe??????????????????????????????? fucking weird ass lo-fi sloppy as hell noise rock, especially for 1968. the last track is especially insane. like weird improvisational bullshit wasnt unprecedented (Jazz Music) but im pretty sure this is one of the first times a rock album sounded like this ? the hard panning on The Gift is annoying at first but i think it fits the songs fucked up vibe. honestly this album as a whole just has a super fucky vibe, feels completely out of touch with reality at times. majorly respect this for proceeding all the fucked up lofi nonsense i love 9/10
I can feel it influencing me
I am once again upset with myself for not owning this album. In fact, I don’t have any of the John Cale VU’s on vinyl, and I don’t know why. Oh yeah, this album inspired pretty much every band I’ve ever liked, ever. 5 stars
Poor Waldo ...
literally terrible there were such random screeching noises and i cannot think of any way this is influential i literally hate this album no offense
epic, a near perfect record! a must own
Probably the most open and boundary pushing VU album. John Cale's influence is felt the most here, both on tracks like The Gift and in the instrumentation. Each VU album has it's own special place in my heart, and while I don't know if I could choose a favorite, this is always a fun one to put on because it's very much not the "greatest hits" but still makes a very compelling argument for what a great band they were.
To say I'm baffled is an understatement. I had to triple check that I was listening to the right album, especially after reading some of the reviews. There's about 3 half-songs on this record and the rest is noise. And those half-songs are OKAY, not great. In what universe does someone sit down and listen to "sister ray" - 17 and a half minutes of fuzzy garbage - and enjoy the experience? I had to lower the volume down, it was literally hurting my ears. Same with "I heard her call my name". Wtf am I missing...?
Absolut hilarious und wunderbar grotesk die Geschichte vom armen Waldo, unschlagbar sweet und leicht unbeholfen mit walisischem Zungenschlag vorgelesen von John Cale - der mir überhaupt sehr gut gefällt, auch als Sänger von Lady Godiva. Man möchte baden in dieser Platte, und man kann. In der wohligen, flauschigen Wärme genauso wie in der überall wogenden Salzsäure sich auflösen und transzendent werden - als heißweiße Hitze, kaltweißes Licht. Sister Ray halt - wie schön das genau NICHT auf den Punkt bringt, was sich ausstrecken will, einsaugen lässt. Verstärker, Verstärker.
I was hoping to get a good album for my birthday, and here it is. I actually just listened to this album yesterday. I'm on a big Lou Reed/VU kick because I just finished reading a biography of Lou Reed. I think all four of the "real" VU albums (the 5th one is basically a Doug Yule solo album) are 5 star albums. This one is the noisiest and the ugliest in a way, but out of ugliness comes great beauty. This is also the last VU album with John Cale, which makes it even more special. His keyboard playing on the Sister Ray jam is epic. 5 stars.
I love The Velvet Underground. Every album of theirs is distinct and different. This one - their second - is their strangest. The music is mostly fuzzed out, low-fi rock and the production is unpolished and sloppy in a way that feels confrontational towards the listener. The songs are an odd batch. The title track is simple enough (before deteriorating into noise right at the end) but is quickly followed by "The Gift," a weird little short story about a man who mails himself to his girlfriend and gets a knife to the head when she cuts the box open. The background music simmers underneath, keeping a steady beat while the guitar riffs on some psychedelic vibes. "Lady Godiva's Operation" continues the psychedelic music while telling the story of a botched sex change operation. I love how Lou Reed jumps in to emphasize certain words in a monotone voice. It's a crude, jarring effect that I think is really funny. The first half ends with "Here She Comes Now," a beautiful gem of a song and a generous track to include on an otherwise abrasive album. (Nirvana does some really good covers of this song.) But then the real chaos starts. "I Heard Her Call My Name" is a blast of noise and feedback that turns out to just be a warm-up for the 17-minute "Sister Ray," a truly insane assault on the ears. You can really get lost in it. Lou Reed's vocals are wild too as he shouts about drugs and sex. "Too busy sucking on a ding-dong!" must have been a controversial thing to include on an album in 1968 but it's also hilarious. It's nice to know that even as the band was upending what rock music could be and inventing new styles, they had a sense of humor about it all. It's aggressive for sure but you can hear them having fun too.
Experimental and interesting
Claramente no es un disco que a la mayoría le guste. En su tiempo fue recibido con muchas reservas aunque después los críticos han exaltado su influencia en la música. Entiendo el mérito que tiene por proponer cosas disruptivas y que es un volado que puede impresionar a la gente o parecer repulsivo. Pero el mérito no lo es todo. Las letras me parecen muy interesantes y supongo estas letras que hoy parecieran normales eran escandalosas en su tiempo. El tema de las distorsiones me parece muy interesante, los cambios de voces también y si el punto era experimentar en crear un disco feo, disonante e incómodo para probar algún punto o llevar la contraria, vaya que lo lograron. Pero reconocer el mérito no equivale a gustar o disfrutar. Creo que es importante haberlo escuchado pero no es algo que me interese volver a escuchar.
Don’t like the album Music instruments sound harsh on the ears and lyrics are not appealing 1.5/5
En cette matinée du 9 mars 2022, Robert a donc décidé de nous enchaîner la gueule de deux albums de rock experimental. Les deux albums sont evidemment cataclysmiques, le premier nous présentant differents primates hurlant sur un fond de tam tam, tandis que le second passe en revue tout l'assortiment du rayon quincaillerie de Bricot Depot. Ceci a generé non pas un album mais une haine phénoménale en moi. Je me suis donc dirigé directement chez Robert, suis rentré dans son domicile sans frapper, et me suis rué sur ce dernier dans un élan de fureur. Je l'ai attrapé par le col, et rué de coups, afin qu'il retienne bien la leçon. Une fois son quart d'heure terminé, il m'a certifié qu'il tenterait de faire mieux sur les prochains albums.
Crimely over looked in favour of the debut album. This is the Velvets at their difficult, anti-flower power best. I can only assume that a lot of the wilder elements of the Velvets originated from John Cale as the John Cale-less third album is positively bland in comparison.
Tits on a stick.
White Light / White Heat is a fantastic foray into very early punk rock. The Velvet Underground were lyrically transgressive, and likely one of the first bands to demonstrate to the audience, through their lyrics, that they were the embodiment of Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll. Best: Whole Album Worst: N/A Note: the Link to the album above on Spotify is the deluxe version. I only listened to the original album.
White Light/White is an unflinching and at times brutal album which in many ways surpasses Velvet Underground & Nico. Gone is the softness added by the chanteuse Nico, replaced by John Cale's sardonic spoken singing. Sister Ray is the stand out with it's assault of noise becoming and influence on kraut rock, Joy Division and the whole no-wave scene. This is another one of those albums soaked in turmoil. You can hear the turmoil between Lou Reed and John Cale bubbling over and in this case leads to a couple of the less amazing parts of this album Often overlooked when compared to the Velvets first album.
Not for audiophiles or the squeamish.
Velvet Underground one of the most influential bands of all time. This album is one reason why since it really challenged what rock music at the time. Sure it's noisy, strange and weird and not something you can listen to all the time but it really pushed music to a new dimension. Many people took these elements, polished them and made them more accessible. It's not my fav or most listen to Velvet Underground album but it does make sense to be on the list. It's a 4.5 for me, so once again I'll round up.
5/5. One of the greatest 😎🤙🤘
A harbinger of what was to come in the chaotic year that was 1968, White Light/White Heat remains not only the antithesis of the Summer of Love but a crucial turning point in the world of The Velvet Underground. With John Cale one foot out the door and Nico and Andy Warhol completely gone, Lou, Sterling and Moe paint a wholly bleak picture of grisly proportions; death via good intentions, botched entries into a more comfortable being and a seventeen minute romp whose most memorable refrain refers to fellatio. Sgt. Pepper's, Majesty's Request and whatever The Monkees' latest was this was not. The punk movement had arrived early and White Light/White Heat was the first of the few flag bearers.
The only thing left to say about the brilliance of this album is that the deluxe version is both better and unnecessary as perfection cannot be added to.
White Boy/ White Boy
I really, really love that album. Where VU & Nico was more pop, this one is all about explorative, drony, strident sounds. A big, experimental piece of work that everyone won't love, but that I cherish.
Just go listen to it I can’t do it justice with my bird brain words
This album is raunchy, dirty, ugly, and smelly. 5/5
Man blir kanske lite trött på The Gift efter en stund men annars kan man ha detta album på repeat förevigt och det skulle vara en helt bra användning av tid
Absolutely stunned to see people are all bottom-Drake meme with the banana album but somehow top-Drake meme with WL/WH.
Ovaj album je strava, a tek Sister Ray stvar? Uf.
Love this band, so many great and weird sounds.
Brilliant drug fueled bummer music. It documents a scene and inspired a million bands.
nicely nice, love it but little bit looong
9/10 maybe I need to give this one another chance some other time it’s obviously an incredible album, but I didn’t find it as good as their first or third albums it’s just the slightly awkward in-between album still amazing tho, just not as good I guess
Gritty, dark and chaotic. Gleefully, sometimes piercingly noisy. Lyrically vivid and provocative with dashes of whimsy. Pushes all the buttons VU liked to push, but stripped bare of the melodic touches that were on their first album. It can be a hard listen for some but it's pretty brilliant. Fave Songs (All songs, from most to least favorite): White Light/White Heat, Here She Comes Now, The Gift, Lady Godiva's Operation, Sister Ray, I Heard Her Call My Name
Not a very good album in a way. WLWH is poor, Sister Ray not as good as the JD cover, etc But a great artistic statement.
I go here to escape the Velvet Underground and they follow me.
It's always strange to me that I enjoy the Velvet Underground so much but have not spent much time diving into their different albums. This one is a bit tough for me to rate. I love the title track and Here She Comes Now. The Gift and Lady Godiva's Operation drag on a bit for me. It's strange how sometimes the lofi quality of the recording really seems to work for the band, while other times it really seems to hurt the quality of the music. Regardless, when Lou Reed brings the energy, he can make a track all by himself. Sister Ray makes this album, which makes sense as it is nearly half of the running time by itself. Ultimately a difficult album to rate because of its inconsistencies, but the innovative aspects of this album outweigh the negatives 4/5
I wouldn't say I enjoyed this album. A little to Avant Garde for my taste. It did however have some super interesting components and a sound that was probably ahead of its time. To be enjoyed as an artifact rather than for the music itself.
Good rock album
The gift is a wtf story Very daring album for the time, "filthy, rough" guitar work 4 stars
The Velvet Underground (and particularly Lou Reed) were one of my early musical icons. As great as I think this is I'm not sure I see it as the flawless masterpiece some critical reception suggests. They say it was recorded in two days and it shows. Still, a critical work of raw innovation.
love me some lou reed
Tratando de ser breve (porque es un grupo en el que me podría extender demasiado). Bowie en algún momento dijo que la influencia verdadera no eran los críticos, sino los artistas; en referencia a que Velvet Underground terminó siendo mucho más influyente que los Beatles. Decían que su primer disco solo vendió 10,000 copias pero que fue la razón de la creación de 10,000 bandas. Este segundo disco termina siendo muy muy distinto a su primer material más conocido. Tiene siento yo una cosa buena en la ruptura con Warhol y una mala en la ruptura con Nico. Aunque perdieran una voz particular es muy interesante ver el verdadero rock experimental en sus inicios. No es un disco facil o digerible, tiene todas las características temáticas del grupo y de Lou Reed (sexo, drogas, violencia y subculturas, a niveles impensables para la época y a un grado que los hizo invendibles) pero esta vez cambia lo undulante de psicodelia por lo que solo puedo llamar un caos lleno de belleza. Es necesario comprender que todo lo que se escucha era basicamente la primera vez que alguien lo intentaba, que se usaran guitarras y distorsión en ese grado, que se utilizara el feedback como parte integral de una canción, realizar un disco básicamente improvisado. Sin este disco no hay música garage, no hay música alternativa, no hay grunge, no hay punk. The Velvet Underground fue el verdadero avant garde del rock en todo lo que realmente significa el término. Lou Reed después hizo cosas muy grandes, muy influyentes en algunos ámbitos; pero el grado de impacto que esos 4 discos lanzados en 4 años consecutivos tuvieron es inmenso.
Interesting. Never heard it before.
Not my favorite VU album, but clearly very influential on a lot artist I enjoy. I do love Sister Ray though!
Art-rock at it's artiest - but scratch the surface and there are still pop melodies hidden away. BT: White Light/White Heat, Lady Godiva's Operation, Here She Comes Now
More interesting than I imagined. Very experimental and textured. Sucking on ding dongs yeah...!
Phenomenal beginning of noise rock. LOVE THIS
My god the 60's in America were F'd up. The Gift epitomizes everything I've seen in movies and recordings about that era - the drugs, the sex, the grungy and wheezy guitar riffs. Listening to that track was like watching Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (a truly F'd up movie). It might've been okay if it wasn't so completely overdone (8min). But kudos to the effort and the creativity. And if I thought the Gift had edgy lyrics, Lady Godiva's Operation took me to new depths. Didn't mind the music layered in. The whole album kind of reminds me of Kanye West in that they try so hard to show how intelligent and cool they are through their lyrics and beats. Arrogant is the right word. Still, it's a solid album (minus the production value, which is nil). The title track, Here She Comes Now, and I Heard Her call My Name are all fun little tracks albeit with some excessive guitar work in all of them. Cut out the self-indulgence and depravity (see Exhibit Z, Sister Ray) and you'd have a real winner. 3.5 at least but I'll round up to 4 just to have an even more different take than others. Seems fitting given the extremes of the album.
Psychadelic rock. Guitars remind me of Cream quite a bit. Songs are all very unique, each one does it's own thing. Opens with "White light / white heat" a bit of a traditional rock tune. Followed with "The Gift" an 8 minute story/stream of consciousness while a guitar is wailing. Next is "Lady Godiva's Operation", once again a bit more of a standard tune with dueling vocalists that gets more surreal as it goes on. "Here she comes" has a summery vibe, brief tune about a beautiful hippie lady. "I heard her call my name" is a grungy tune with lots of distortion in the guitars and growling vocals that sounds a lot like Steppenwolf. Last is "Sister Ray" which plays for a whopping 17 minutes and 30 seconds. This song has some attitude, angry Organs that remind me of Ina Gatta Da Vita. Intensity increases throughout the song until a big crescendo of wailing on instruments to end. The keys are literally just holding on notes so it's a thrumming buzz with the drums and guitar going. Great jam session tune. Overall good album, was worried after the 2nd song but that was the only one that I really didn't enjoy. The rest were pretty good, though a bit too "out there" to add to the playlist.
The first half (5 songs): clearly 5*. Had not listened to the second half for years: Sister Ray is alright but still too long. (5+3)/2 = 4.
Heftiges Teil mit untergründiger Schönheit - unterhalb all des glitches und fuzzes schimmert ein poppiges und fast monotonisch eingängiges Stück Rock. Nico fehlt kein Stück. Mir jedoch etwas die Abwechslung. 3.5
I felt like I was deeply immersed in the cool 60s until Lou Reed start singing about dingdongs. Still an enjoyable listen.
Important, influential, experimental. All of these things, but it's not enjoyable. Interesting to note that Peter Gabriel might have been influenced by the "short story" narration on "The Gift." Sister Ray is a trip, but you don't need to hear it often.
Nothing much is pleasant about this listening experience - the production is dense to the point of singularity and the music is loud, clangy, and crude. It's almost like the band is trying to alienate the listener, and in large part they have. That said, I see this as an even more sophisticated attempt to throw popular music on its head - while their debut at least has some 'catchy' tunes, this one dispenses with any of the trappings of musical enjoyment, dragging listeners down a dark alley, against our will, to show us smacked-out junkies and heroin whores. Its inconceivable to think this came out in 1968, and my rating here reflects the cutting edge nature of the work (if not my actual enjoyment at the listening)
It's not an "easy" listen, but it's good. I love The Velvet Underground especially when they get their drone on. I also love that this is like The Stooges play The Velvets, you can see how this inspired sooooo many artists
Man muss definitiv in Stimmung sein für dieses Album, es ist Ausdruck der Stimmung der damaligen Jugend. Sister Ray: mitreisender Rhythmus, Text über Drogen und Sex etc. ist gemäss Reed als Witz gemeint.
An incredible sophomore album
Man I played this to the death way back when. Great album.
Such an experimental, awesome album that really provided a groundwork for so much music that I love. I think it might be my favorite VU album.
intresting mad shit going on here. Can see why its a must listen
The Velvet Underground are usually remembered fondly for their innovations to the rock music canon as a whole. Grunge, no wave, post-punk, punk rock, krautrock, prog rock, alternative rock, they all trace back to White Light / White Heat in some way. People smarter and more dedicated than myself have written about it better than I ever could, but I can at least share those same sentiments. Even Sister Ray alone, the 17-minute marathon track that dominates side B, could take credit for the ways that it pushed rock music. Most "experimental" rock music could be boiled down to just a few people with instruments fucking around, but to say that about The Velvet Underground would be underselling it's historical significance. As for me, it's certainly not an album I thoroughly enjoy, but there's no denying that this record is the root of many of my favorite albums. One small step for The Velvet Underground, one giant leap for rock music.
Manages to sound simultaneously of its time, modern, and like nothing else I have heard. Starts off with fairly conventional rock and roll sounds on the first track, White Light/White Heat, before giving way to a gradual descent into spoken word madness (The Gift) and then ending with lengthy proto-punk noise and feedback (Sister Ray). A big shift from the more melodic sound of their previous album. It sounds much more improvised, spiky and chaotic.
A surprisingly good album. Certainly unique in relation to some songs (The Gift and Sister Ray). While not really a song in the typical sense The Gift is actually a great story that really made me enjoy the album, not for its musical value but for its entertainement and sheer courage for producing something so peculiar!
Didn’t realize how much his voice sounds like Julian Casablancas at times. Biased towards live recorded albums. Noisy, fun.
Demasiado experimental y ruidoso para el vinilo. Un 4.
You can see how this album influenced so many bands that I like now. I really like the album. Here She Comes Now is a great song, and the Nirvana cover(s) that it sparked are amazing. It may have gotten a 5 from me if it wasn't for The Gift. I just can't stand that one.
This is their weirdest album. There's a lot that I like on it and there's a lot that i don't like. I always skip "The Gift" but the title track and sister ray are great.
I think its fair to say this is the least accessible of the 4 VU albums and often gets the most kudos. The Gift annoys me a bit as you don't really want to listen to the story more than twice. Sister Ray is s behemoth. The production is deliberately rough and ready. To think this is a 1968 album takes your breath away a bit. Also Reeds guitar on "I heard her call my name" Remarkable. I feel I should like it more than I do. Still, 4.
I always struggle if I love or hate this one. This listen fell closer to love.
Love the title track, and lots of other good stuff on the album but not these versions - the production/mix on this album is awful.
Recording is shit but the album is quite great!
Excellent, if challenging in places
Wacky album. I like it more than the debut. Sister Ray is a monster as is known.
Noise 101 The Beatles' first use of distortion was I Feel Fine. They approached distortion with white gloves on and everybody listened to it. The Who whacked distortion in the face with boxing gloves on in their song The OX. Nobody listened to it. They also mixed some lighter distortion in their songs they hoped would be hits and they got radio play. Lou seemingly couldn't give a fuck about radio play and gave us this opera of distortion sledgehammer style. Overall, the album feels like it's half baked although I guess noise is supposed to sound that way. Side 1 is, relatively speaking, tame. Side 2 is the ugly noise side. "I heard her call my name" ramps up the distortion level and Sister Ray is a full-on assault of noise. When listening to this, it's hard to imagine that four years later he would record Transformer and six years later, on Rock 'n' Roll Animal, he would show that he recognizes the benefits of musicians who can play, in the more typical definition of the word. I've come to realize that musicians have greatly advanced hearing so hear things that mere mortals like us don't. After so many years I can appreciate the noise assault on this album. I'm still miles away from Metal Machine Music and doubt I can ever take enough baby steps to get there.
Extraordinary album, one my favourites since I was young. Beautiful cutesy moments, horrible machine music moments, joyful little experiments, the odd inclusion of a Welsh accent among the squall which is deeply satisfying. Pale blue eyes is one of the simplest, nicest songs written. The album sometimes dissolves into an uncontrolled difficult morass but it reforms well. An iconic, stand out record. Although I wonder if the velvenlt underground are a five star band that only produces four start records.
Pretty great follow up
I love Velvet Underground, even today it has such an individual sound. I must say I was NOT in the mood to listen to it today but I know I love it
Well this was psych experimental classic-ness wasn't it. I found the majority of it really interesting to listen to, and again another album that is so iconic of a time. Made me want to be there. Really loved the one about the story of a man who posted himself. Hilarious! Well told story too. I can see why Luke likes VU so much at times, the repetitions and just going and going leaning into a riff so much. I might not have as much appreciation for all of that at times, like the 17 min song - but on the whole I did love it
I was so excited to finally get a Velvet Underground album on this list as I missed the last one and didn't get around to making it up yet! This one is a corker. I really love the first few tracks. The opening track especially is so warm and inviting. Really cool sound classic VU so exciting with lots of twists and turns too. I get a bit irritated by the second half ish of the album but that's only because I'm listening while working from home and not live at a gig which would be awesome.
It is hard to put into words the monumental impact that Velvet Underground had on music, rock, and art. Emerging from the New York Punk scene, underground tapped into Lou Reed's lyrics and artistic vision to make not only important music, but push what could be considered music.
Rock concebido e executado com arte.