The Velvet Underground
“White Light/White Heat” (45th anniversary edition)
This deluxe reissue was in the works before Lou Reed died in October, but his passing has made his legacy with the Velvet Underground ripe for reappraisal. Forty-five years on, “White Light/White Heat” is still a beast of an album, a pulverizing force that was at once primitive but also ahead of its time.
The Velvet Underground’s second album, it didn’t dabble in the pretty love songs that made the group’s debut, 1967’s “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” so tender. “White Light/White Heat” went full throttle and right for the throat. Its six songs were expansive and primal, from the charging title track to the spoken-word ramble of “The Gift” to the seminal, 17-minute sprawl of “Sister Ray.”
This anniversary reissue, which Reed and John Cale helped curate, is a treasure trove: three discs that include remastered stereo and mono versions of the album, bonus tracks, alternate takes, unreleased outtakes, and Cale’s final studio recordings with the Velvets. There’s also a hardbound book with photos and memorabilia, and the third disc is a live performance recorded at the Gymnasium in New York in April 1967.
This is the definitive document of “White Light/White Heat,” which Reed had recently called “the quintessence of articulate punk.” (Out Dec. 10)