Tuesday, December 31, 2013
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: THE VELVET UNDERGROUND - WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 45th ANNIVERSARY DELUXE EDITION
That confrontational feel will either turn you on or leave you upset. These are not tight songs, and even the single, title cut is more about the amp noise than the bouncy rock, which Bowie played up on his famous live versions. At just six tracks, there are some long, long passages, explorations of sound and repetition. Sister Ray is a Reed rant; The Gift a university short story written by Reed, recited by Cale with his Welsh accent, accompanied by the band. When there are more concise songs (Here She Comes Now, I Heard Her Call My Name), again the volume level overshadows the structure and melody. With its free jazz influences and street punk attitude, it was far ahead of its time, and still manages to be confrontational.
The bonuses are plentiful, with disc one filled out with seven cuts down post-album, the last recording sessions will Cale, familiar to major fans but placed in context here. They include an alternate take of I Heard Her Call My Name, and the first take of Stephanie Says. Disc two contains the full show from April 1967 at New York's Gymnasium, which was sampled on the box set Peel Slowly And See. A bit above bootleg quality, this is the best indicator of what the original band was about, with Cale's keyboards and viola getting workouts, the droning passages extended on stage, long instrumentals, tension and probably about 10 people in the audience getting it. Such was the birth of something very important, although still after all these years, not entirely understood and certainly only for those who get it.