JesusV4
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Velvet Underground Albums Ranked

This is why I don't write deions for my lists, I wind up writing mini-reviews!
7The Velvet Underground
Squeeze


Doug Yule's indecent capitalization of the VU name. When VU disbanded, Doug Yule somehow retained rights to record under the name. Should this even be counted? Not only has Lou Reed left, but the entire band is gone, except for Yule's brother who played drums on Loaded... And was more a studio member than a real member. Avoid!
6The Velvet Underground
Another View


More unreleased tracks! Glorious! These unreleased tracks, like those on VU, are exactly that, another view into the formative transition period of the Underground's songwriting. John Cale is on a track or two, but Yule provides most of the bass work.
5The Velvet Underground
VU


Unreleased tracks?! For those of you disappointed to find your journey into the Velvets' discography end so quickly (only four albums) this and Another View will be a real treat. There are 16 or 17 songs never put to record, and a few different versions of ones you know. VU and Another View also provide a window of insight (a missing link if you will) into the Velvet Underground's transformation from screeching proto-punk to soft, gentle acoustic sound.
4The Velvet Underground
Loaded


If the View compilations are transitions between White Light / White Heat, then Loaded is a transition to Lou Reed's solo albums. The Velvet Underground took sound of the third album (the self-titled) and turned up the volume a little bit, and also made the songs catchier. "Who Loves the Sun", "Rock 'n' Roll', and possibly their most famous song of all, "Sweet Jane" finally get the Velvets some radio play, and capitalize on the patented Velvet groove, despite Moe Tucker's absence and the replacement of Doug Yule's brother on the drums. The epic "Oh! Sweet Nothin'" that closes the album is not to be missed.
3The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground


Whoa, what is this? If you were expecting the third installment of the Velvet Underground you knew and loved, think again. The self-titled sounds more like Simon and Garfunkel (really, it's that gentle) than the controlled chaos of White Light / Heat. The band has fired John Cale, the electric cellos and violas are completely gone from the sound. Introspective and quiet songs like "Candy Says" and "Some Kinda Love" would influence the other half of the next generation or two of songwriters that were NOT punking it up, while songs like "What Goes On in Your Mind" proved the Velvets could still groove in their peaceful new sound. Give this one a good chance so that you can comfortably delve into the rest of the discography!
2The Velvet Underground
White Light/White Heat


Personally, this is my favorite album by the Velvet Underground. It takes the sound of "Heroin" and ?European Son" and pushes it to the limit seeing just how far they can take it. The title track is an amazing little ditty of sonic noise that John Lennon would have done heroin to for days on end. "The Gift" is an experiment with placing an amusing spoken-word short story over their noise-sound, and the effect is mesmerizing until "plop!" the song ends - Beautiful Reed-written lyrics spoken by Cale. The hypnosis carries into the next song though, "Lady Godiva's Operation", and the energy streamlines through soft interlude ("If She Ever Comes Now", a hint at the sound of the self-titled album that came next) into fucking heavy "I Heard Her Call My Name" - Between Tucker's pounding drums and Cale's raucous organs and electric instrumentation, you totally feel it when Reed yells, "and then my mind split open!" The album culminates in the epic "Sister Ray" a beautiful 17-minute arrangement of noise that many find it difficult to stomach at first - but do try - the synthesis of noise and pulsating beat is like the peak section of "Heroin" the whole way through - the song really is quite a feat, and it nearly broke the whole band up. At the very least, it's probably one of the reasons Reed's partner John Cale was fired (imagine John Lennon firing Paul McCartney!).
1The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground and Nico


Classic. This album's influence is tantamount to Sgt. Pepper. It's been said that only 5,000 people bought this album - But each of those 5,000 would start a band. This album is the reason that The Velvet Underground are called the prototype of punk. The Stooges would very quickly come along and use a similar sound with shortened songs, and minimize the sound to only include guitars to make those screechy noises, but it was the Velvet Underground that did it first (and for my money, best). Lou Reed, the nucleus of the group, writes songs on this album (and the others that follow) that are just as potent as the songs of John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Brian Wilson, Mick Jagger, or even Bob Dylan, but with one key difference: The songs are violent, in sound and in lyric. Themes of drug use are in songs like "Waiting for the Man", which captures the exact rhythm of apprehension accompanied by waiting in your car during a drug deal. The taboo and appeal of sado-masochism is gorgeously addressed and explained in ecstasy through "Venus In Furs". Nico, the famous avant-guarde pop singer, did her best work on this album, singing Reed's lyrics on "I'll Be Your Mirror, "Femme Fatale", and the cascading "All Tomorrow's Parties". Andy Warhol produced the album and did the abstract banana cover artwork. The influence of heroin permeates the album, and indeed, that's the title of their most infamous song - "Heroin". No song in the history of rock better chronicles drug addiction, and Reed's lyrics and strummed guitar chords moan of a lost life and a total awe with the wonder of the world, and John Cale 's electric viola wails and screeches out of control, and Sterling Morrison's guitars scriggle into oblivion, and Moe Tucker's drums pound ceaselessly onward into the abyss, until the song tails off and ends as sweetly as it began. From the progenitor punk-pop of the woozy, hazy "Sunday Morning" to the finishing crescendo of noise that is "European Son", the album flows like a classic, logically, and with one foot in front of the other with classic song after classic song.
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