Beginning to see the light of VU

One of the most influencing bands in rock history is the Velvet Underground. That a rock album is form of art can be said about almost all their albums featuring Lou Reed. Especially the first album. Because the cover of that one was created by Andy Warhol who discovered the band and gave them the opportunity to experiment.
Velvet Underground, Nico and Andy Warhol
The first album includes besides Lou also Welsh-born multi-instrumentalist John Cale who played bass, viola, piano, organ, and celesta. Drummer Moe Tucker with her simple and innovative drumming style and she also played cymbals. Rhythm guitarist Sterling Morrison. Also present only on the first album is German "vocalist" Nico. Sadly she couldn't sing. She already had a career in modelling. With the help of Andy Warhol she even tried a career in acting.
promo poster for the first album
Cale left after their second album and was replaced by Doug Yule. From then on the sound was less experimental.
Velvet Underground & Nico - album cover
The first album by Velvet Underground and Nico was recorded in 1966 while the band were featured on Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable tour. It had two key songs. "Venus in Furs" where Reed discusses SM over Cale’s viola scrapings and "Heroin" which describes the feeling of using drugs and becoming addicted. Nico almost destroys the songs composed by Lou that she sings with her out of tune style."Femme Fatale" is about actress Edie Sedgwick who appeared in many Warhol movies. "There she goes again" is a song about prostitution. The original LP cover comes with a sticker of the banana you can peel off.

Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
Sunday Morning / I’m waiting for the man / Femme Fatale / Venus in Furs / Run Run Run / All Tomorrow’s parties / Heroin / There she goes again / I’ll be your mirror / The Black Angel’s Death Song / European Son
White Light/White Heat - album cover

The second album "White Light/White Heat" is less accessible than the first album but is groundbreaking. The seventeen minute "Sister Ray" for example and the eight minutes of "The Gift". The shorter songs on the album are more accessible like the sweet "She Comes Now" and the atmospheric "Lady Godiva’s Operation".

White Light/White Heat (1968)
White Light/White Heat / The Gift / Lady Godiva's Operation / Here She Comes Now / I Heard Her Call My Name / Sister Ray
Velvet Underground - album cover
The untitled third album is more accessible then the previous 2 albums but still holds the experimental eight minute long "The Murder Mystery". Lou does all the vocals except for "Candy Says" where new band member Doug Yule sings and even drummer Tucker on the closing song "After Hours". The best song is "Pale Blue Eyes". From here the music paved the way for Lou's solo career although he writes most of songs and also best songs from VU. We got the rockers like “What Goes On”, optimistic moods in “Some Kinda Love”, “Beginning To See The Light” and “I’m Set Free”. As well as a gospel titled “Jesus”. Country rock in “That’s The Story Of My Life”.

Velvet Underground (1969)
Candy Says / What Goes On / Some Kinda Love / Pale Blue Eyes / Jesus / Beginning to See the Light / I’m Set Free / That’s the Story of My Life / The Murder Mystery / After Hours 
Loaded - album cover
The fourth album of the band is "Loaded". The title refers to Atlantic’s request that the band produce an album “loaded with hits”. They only made the songs accessible and  every song had vocals. Also the songs are kept short. Doug Yule now sings half of the songs besides Lou Reed. They had a chart breaking hit with "Sweet Jane". Tucker was pregnant and therefore she didn't appear on all the tracks anymore.

Loaded (1970)
Who Loves the Sun / Sweet Jane / Rock & Roll / Cool It Down / New Age / Head Held High / Lonesome Cowboy Bill / I Found a Reason / Train Round the Bend / Oh! Sweet Nuthin'
Squeeze - album cover
A fifth album was released in 1973 after Lou Reed left to start his solo career with only Doug on vocals so he had to squeeze in order to come up with some good songs. He failed!
“Squeeze” didn't impress the world any longer and it was over for the Velvet Underground. This album never made it to CD.

My favourite VU songs:
  • Venus In Furs
  • Heroin
  • The Murder Mystery
  • Pale Blue Eyes
  • Jesus
  • That's The Story Of My Life
  • Sweet Jane
Pale Blue Eyes
Venus In Furs

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