The Velvet Underground - Loaded
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Despite being the least interesting Velvet Underground LP, Loaded does have some good points. Loaded is definitely the best starting point for someone getting into the Velvets. Unlike previous efforts, Loaded is more immediately rewarding. It provides a great middle ground between the sharp blasts of their debut and their much softer self-titled third album. The songs are generally better known, ‘Rock and Roll’ is more likely to be accepted by listeners than ‘The Murder Mystery’, for example.
This album, for a Velvet Underground album, features the fewest members of the Velvet Underground. Doug Yule fills Reed’s singing spot for four of these ten tunes, as well as taking over some drumming duties for new mother Maureen Tucker. Yule would continue on with several others, performing with the Velvets’ name after the actual group disbanded, shortly before Loaded ’s public release. Yule’s Underground was stopped cold after their first album was skewered by critics.
Opener ‘Who Loves the Sun?’, one of the Velvets poppiest tunes, seems to ignore all progress the Velvets had made against typical pop music. The song bounds along with the feeling of an early rock and roll ‘my girl has left’ template. This raises some concern for the Velvets final album, their great goodbye. They were no longer composing the delicate tributes to a fragile, romantic society; they are now delivering semi-ironic takes on the modern neo-baroque rock.
‘I Found a Reason’ supports this stance. Beginning with a swirling psychedelic intro, it leaps into a completely generic song. What have the Velvets done? Is this a foray into the field of heartbreaking honesty? It couldn’t be, they accomplished this on their last album so beautifully with ‘Jesus’, a song that closed the book of irony in songwriting for the Velvets. Sure, there’s a bit of humor in the bridge, but the song is undeniably pop.
The group manages to keep their blues-oriented sound through the album. This saves the tone greatly, as we are able to connect with the songs more from a textural perspective than a lyrical perspective. Even if they may be mining old and unimpressive lyrical territory, the group still sounds great.
A respectable finish, Loaded sent the Velvet Underground off into the sunset on a more reserved note. There were no crashing explosions or drop-dead gorgeous eulogies (though closer ‘Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ comes close to the latter). For all its accessibility and general prettiness, Loaded falls short of the rest of the Velvets LPs in terms of musical accomplishment.
By: Tyler Martin
Published on: 2003-09-01