1251-2 White Light/White Heat
Produced by Tom Wilson
Released on January 30, 1968
US CHART POSITION #199
Find it at GEMM
1251-2 cover
[high resolution scan]

K ronomyth 2.0: WHITE NOISE. The Velvet’s first album was remarkable for its bruised beauty. White Light/White Heat is notorious for its brutal rejection of beauty and decency. For years, critics have called this a classic album, defending its noisy experimentation as art. In my opinion, any art that occurs on the Velvet’s second album is accidental. The band is completely out of control, content now to be merchants of chaos. In its defense, White Light/White Heat is an intense listening experience not soon forgotten. But there’s not one song on here that doesn’t sound like an acid-laced outtake from their first album. This isn’t an album of music, it’s an ode to noise and intoxicated impulse. Over the years, each song has earned its infamy: “White Light/White Heat” presented in amphetamine overdrive; the bizarre short story “The Gift” recited by John Cale against bleak, unchanging scenery; a surreal duet between Cale and Reed that centers around a botched operation to remove a brain tumor; the unexpectedly uncomplicated “Here She Comes Now;” the explosive “I Heard Her Call My Name;” all of it obliterated from memory by that black hole opus, a seventeen-minute “Sister Ray” that wears you down and washes over you like filthy rain. In retrospect, you can see how critics might have been convinced to put a crown on White Light/White Heat too. This isn’t art pushed to the breaking point, though. It’s broken art. Reed, Cale and the rest of the band had gone to a dark place from which return was impossible. And so John Cale left the band, effectively ending one of rock’s most interesting partnerships. Literally, the difference between this and Cale’s next record (Vintage Violence) is night and day. As the most bizarre and confrontational of the Velvet’s records, White Light/White Heat will continue to draw to itself the legions of disaffected noisemongers that every generation breeds in its dimly lit corners. And maybe it is a brilliant record after all, but you didn’t hear it from me.

TRACK LISTING

  1. WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT    (Lou Reed)    2:44
  2. THE GIFT    (Words: Lou Reed, Music: Sterling Morrison/John Cale/Maureen Tucker/Lou Reed)    8:16
  3. LADY GODIVA'S OPERATION    (Lou Reed)    4:52
  4. HERE SHE COMES NOW    (Words: Lou Reed, Music: Sterling Morrison/John Cale/Lou Reed)    2:02
  5. I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME    (Lou Reed)    4:35
  6. SISTER RAY    (Words: Lou Reed, Music: Sterling Morrison/John Cale/Maureen Tucker/Lou Reed)    17:27

    2008 Russian Expanded Elpee Version
  7. WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT
  8. THE GIFT
  9. LADY GODIVA'S OPERATION
  10. HERE SHE COMES NOW
  11. STEPHANIE
  12. TEMPTATION INSIDE YOUR HEART
  13. I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME
  14. SISTER RAY
  15. HEY MR. RAIN

CREDITS

JOHN CALE -- vocal, electric viola, organ, bass guitar
STERLING MORRISON -- vocal, guitar, bass guitar
LOU REED -- vocal, guitar, piano
MAUREEN TUCKER -- percussion
Gary Kellgren -- recording engineer
Val Valentin -- director of engineering
Billy Name -- cover photo
Mario Anniballi -- back cover photo
Suzan Cooper Archives -- inside photos
Acy R. Lehman -- cover design

return to THE VELVET UNDERGROUND discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US January 30, 1968 Verve LP V6-5046  
UK October 1971 MGM LP 2353 024 different cover
JPN 1982 Verve LP 23MM-0190  
UK April 1984 Polydor LP/CS SPELP/SPEMC-73 different cover
UK 1980s Polydor LP 2353 024 original black cover
CAN 1980s Verve LP 9393  
US 1985 Verve LP/CD 825 119-1/2  
JPN   Verve LP 18MM-0583  
US May 7, 1996 Polydor CD 1251-2  
GER 1996 Polydor LP 2810 3824  
US 1998 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-724 original master recording
US 2000 Verve LP V6-5046 180g vinyl, avail. as white vinyl
UK 2000 Simply Vinyl LP SVLP-200 180g vinyl
JPN 2006 Polydor CD UICY-9135  
US 2008 4 Men With Beards LP 4M-155 180g vinyl
RUS 2008 Vinyl Lovers/Lilith LPX 900044 180g vinyl w. bonus tracks
RUS 2008 Vinyl Lovers/Lilith LP 990045 purple vinyl
JPN 2009 Universal CD UICY-93896 SHMCD remaster

 

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