Friday, November 20, 2015
The Velvet Underground found a reason to cool it down; but despite all the amputation and computation, they ended up with a sweet nuthin'. After three groundbreaking commercial flops (The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967, White Light/White Heat in 1968, and The Velvet Underground in 1969) on the Verve label, the band was approached by Ahmet Ertegun from Atlantic Records to record something that could appeal to a pop audience.
'Loaded' was produced by the Velvet Underground with Geoff Haslam and Shel Kagan and engineer Adrian Barber. The album features Lou Reed on vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and piano; Doug Yule on bass, piano, keyboards, lead guitar, fuzz bass, drums, percussion, backing vocals, and lead vocals on "Who Loves the Sun", "New Age", "Lonesome Cowboy Bill", and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'; and Sterling Morrison on lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and backing vocals. Maureen Tucker was credited on drums even though she was on maternity leave during the sessions. Instead the sessions had Adrian Barber playing drums on "Who Loves the Sun" and "Sweet Jane"; Tommy Castagnaro playing drums on "Cool It Down" and "Head Held High"; Billy Yule playing drums on "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'".
Doug Yule: "Each song is like a different view of what a commercial song is. It was as if someone said, 'One of these songs has to be a hit. We'll do one in each different style. Something has to take...Lou leaned on me a lot in terms of musical support and vocal arrangements. I did a lot on Loaded. It sort of devolved down to the Lou and Yule recreational recording"
Sterling Morrison: "It showed that we could have, all along, made truly commercial sounding records. We usually opted not to, because our material was incompatible with standard pop music treatment. But people would wonder, 'Could they do it if they had to?'...If [Lou] had his druthers, he would have liked to have written standard, fantastic pop songs, like James Brown or Smokey Robinson ... The album came out okay, as far as production it's the best, but it would have been better if it had real good Lou vocals on all the tracks."
The reason it didn't was because, before the album was complete, Reed left the band: “I gave them an album loaded with hits and it was loaded with hits to the point where the rest of the people showed their colors. So I left them to their album full of hits that I made ... For someone who is accused of not being able to sing, my melodies are all over the place. Plus the guitar solos - many of those were very melodic solos - but no one ever noticed...People never got used to the idea of having this raging guitar, and then these nice ballads. Now it makes more sense to people. Why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't you used everything available? ... Loaded didn't have Maureen on it, and that's a lot of people's favorite Velvet Underground record, so we can't get too lost in the mystique of the Velvet Underground ... It's still called a Velvet Underground record; but what it is is something else."
Even with the appeal to a pop sound, 'Loaded' was their lowest charting album yet, peaking at number two hundred and two on the US album chart.
Reed: "I loved that lick. I still, to this day, love playing that lick. And, you know, you can make lyrics up to that lick all day long. I had to settle on something at some point ... There’s something about those kind of changes. You don’t have that in jazz, really. You have it in rock. There’s just a great deal of satisfaction in going from a I to a IV chord. And I think there will be for as long as time exists. You heard those changes in folk music, hillbilly music, African music. You will always hear them. Of course, part of it is probably because that came from Africa in the first place. The real basic changes are very, very beautiful."
"Rock and Roll"
Reed: ""Rock and Roll" is about me. If I hadn't hard rock 'n' roll on the radio, I would have had no idea there was life on this planet"
"Who Loves the Sun"
"Oh! Sweet Nuthin'"
All songs written by Lou Reed except where noted.
1. "Who Loves the Sun" (Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed, Doug Yule) 2:45
2. "Sweet Jane" 3:18
3. "Rock & Roll" (Morrison/Reed/Yule) 4:44
4. "Cool It Down" (Reed/Yule) 3:06
5. "New Age" 4:39
No. Title Length
6. "Head Held High" 2:58
7. "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" (Morrison/Reed/Yule) 2:45
8. "I Found a Reason" 4:17
9. "Train Round the Bend" 3:22
10. "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" (Reed/Yule) 7:29
1. I Love You (intro)
2. Satellite of Love
3. Oh Gin
4. Walk and Talk
5. Sad Song
6. Ride Into The Sun
8. I'm Sticking With You
9. I Found A Reason
10. Countess From Hong Kong
11. Love Makes You Feel Ten Feet Tall
12. I Love You (outro)