the-velvet-underground’s-best-songs-– ranked!

The Velvet Underground’s best songs – ranked!

30. Trip Into the Solar (1969)

The Velvets recorded two variations of Trip Into the Solar: a wonderful 1969 instrumental laden with fuzz guitar and a hushed 1970 vocal take backed by organ. Someplace between the 2 lies one among their nice misplaced songs; Lou Reed’s disappointingly flat 1972 solo model doesn’t do it justice in any respect.

29. Run Run Run (1967)

For all of the shock engendered by the lyrics of Heroin and I’m Ready for My Man, probably the most malevolent-sounding observe on the debut album may be Run Run Run, a strong R&B groove lent a gripping darkness by Reed’s noisy guitar enjoying and the screw-you-I-take-drugs sneer of his vocals.

28. Starting to See the Gentle (1969)

The title suggests awakening, the melody is shiny, however the lyrics are darkish and bitter. They could have been directed at John Cale, who performed on an preliminary model of the track, which was subsequently re-recorded after Reed sacked him, in opposition to the needs of his bandmates. A ferocious 1969 reside model amps up the strain.

27. Foggy Notion (1969)

Reed was a lifelong doo-wop fan. His ardour often discovered its expression when the Velvet Underground recorded backing vocals for his or her ballads – as on Sweet Says – however the powerful, rocking Foggy Notion went a stage additional, gleefully stealing a bit of the Solitaires’ 1955 single Later for You Child.

The Velvet Underground on stage with Nico. {Photograph}: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

26. The Reward (1968)

Wherein the band set a two-chord grind which will, or could not, have been primarily based on their instrumental Booker T in a single channel and a blackly comedian Reed quick story learn by Cale within the different. “When you’re a mad fiend like we’re, you’ll take heed to them each collectively,” supplied the producer, Tom Wilson.

25. Guess I’m Falling in Love (1967)

Recorded on the White Gentle/White Warmth classes, however by no means accomplished, the April 1967 reside recording of Guess I’m Falling in Love – taped on the Gymnasium in New York – will greater than suffice. It boasts three chords, a definite rhythm and blues affect, Reed in streetwise, so-what punk mode and explosive guitar solos by some means potentiated by the tough sound high quality.

24. Temptation Inside Your Coronary heart (1968)

“It was not Mein Kampf – my wrestle,” the guitarist Sterling Morrison as soon as mirrored of the Velvet Underground’s profession. “It was enjoyable.” A pleasant late Cale-era outtake that inadvertently captured Morrison, Cale and Reed’s giggly backchat as they recorded the backing vocals, Temptation Inside Your Coronary heart bears that evaluation out.

23. New Age (1970)

New Age is available in two varieties. Take your decide from the world-weary, small-hours rumination discovered on 1969: The Velvet Underground Dwell, or the extra epic studio model that the Velvets biographer Victor Bockris prompt was “an try and current some encouraging statements to a confused viewers because the 70s started”. Each are excellent.

(Clockwise from prime left) Tucker, Reed, Morrison and Cale. {Photograph}: Michael Ochs Archives

22. After Hours (1969)

The Velvets’ eponymous 1969 album ends, improbably, with the drummer, Moe Tucker, singing a track that would have dated from the pre-rock period. The twist is that her childlike voice and the lovable melody conceals an virtually unbearably unhappy track, ostensibly a celebration of small-hours boozing, however stuffed with longing and remorse.

21. I Can’t Stand It (1969)

Amid the Velvets’ songs about medication and drag queens lurked the plaintive sound of Reed pining for his faculty sweetheart, Shelley Albin, the topic of Pale Blue Eyes, I Discovered a Cause and I Can’t Stand It. The latter’s cocky strut is disrupted by a determined lyrical plea: “If Shelley would simply come again, it’d be all proper.”

20. The Black Angel’s Dying Tune (1967)

There’s something folky and vaguely Dylan-esque on the coronary heart of The Black Angel’s Dying Tune, however by the point Cale had completed with it – alternately strafing it with screeching, insistent viola and hissing into the microphone in lieu of a refrain – it sounded, and nonetheless sounds, distinctive.

19. I Discovered a Cause (1970)

It is without doubt one of the ironies of the Velvet Underground that probably the most forward-thinking, groundbreaking band of their period might sometimes sound like old style rock’n’roll revivalists. Buried on facet two of Loaded was one of many loveliest of Lou Reed’s loving homages to doo-wop, full with spoken-word part.

18. Some Kinda Love (1969)

Musically simple, sensual in tone, Some Kinda Love is a fancy enterprise, half seduction soundtrack, half refusal to be hemmed in by normal classes of sexuality – “no varieties of affection are higher than others … the probabilities are infinite / and for me to overlook one / would appear to be groundless”. Killer line: “Between thought and expression lies a lifetime.”

With their 1968 LP White Gentle/White Warmth. {Photograph}: Michael Ochs Archives

17. European Son (1967)

European Son isn’t a track a lot as an eruption. It appears like a band overturning the established order of rock’n’roll, virtually actually: after two temporary verses, it bursts into thrilling frantic chaos with a verbatim crash, just like the contents of an upended desk hitting the ground.

16. Rock & Roll (1970)

It’s laborious to see Loaded’s driving, joyous hymn to music’s redemptive energy – “her life was saved by rock and roll” – as something apart from disguised autobiography on the a part of Reed. The suggestion that music will endure “regardless of all of the amputations”, in the meantime, appears to look ahead to his departure from the Velvet Underground.

15. Sweet Says (1969)

Nobody else in 1969 was writing songs remotely like Sweet Says, a surprising, tender pen portrait of the transgender Warhol famous person Sweet Darling set to a mild doo-wop impressed backing. Its melancholy appears to presage the word Darling wrote on her deathbed in 1974: “I had no want for all times left … I’m simply so bored by every little thing.”

14. Sunday Morning (1967)

Sunday Morning was written on the behest of Wilson. He wished a single which may conceivably get on the radio; he acquired a haunting, melancholy sigh of a track, its battered wistfulness and undercurrent of paranoia – “be careful, the world’s behind you” – the right encapsulation of morning-after remorse.

13. What Goes On (1969)

Morrison maintained that the studio incarnation of What Goes On wasn’t a patch on the reside variations the band carried out with Cale on organ. Perhaps, however the studio incarnation that includes Cale’s alternative, Doug Xmas, is nice. It prickles with nervous power, Reed’s guitar enjoying is wonderful, its churning coda takes up half the track and it nonetheless feels too quick.

12. Femme Fatale (1967)

Apparently provoked by the broken, doomed Warhol famous person Edie Sedgwick – with whom Cale had a quick affair – Femme Fatale is as stunning and fragile as its inspiration. The story of a cautious, ruined former suitor warning others off the titular anti-heroine is lent a cold edge by Nico’s supply.

(Clockwise from prime left) Morrison, Tucker, Nico, Cale and Reed. {Photograph}: Alamy

11. I Heard Her Name My Title (1968)

Within the Velvets’ early days, Reed presupposed to be “the quickest guitarist alive”. A berserk declare, however his Ornette Coleman-inspired solos on I Heard Her Name My Title are a few of the most extraordinary and viscerally thrilling in rock historical past, ceaselessly atonal, spiked with ear-splitting suggestions and pregnant pauses.

10. Ocean (1969)

The Velvet Underground recorded Ocean a number of instances – one model is meant to characteristic the return of Cale on organ – however by no means launched it of their lifetime, which appears extraordinary. It’s among the many best of their later songs, its ambiance stunning, the epic ebb and circulation of its sound fully immersive.

9. I’m Ready for the Man (1967)

An unvarnished lyrical depiction of scoring medication tied to music on which Reed’s rock’n’roll smarts and Cale’s background in minimalist classical music – the pounding, one-chord piano half – meld in a form of relentless perfection. Amusingly, there’s now a pharmacy on the track’s fabled location of Lexington 125.

8. I’ll Be Your Mirror (1967)

A track about Reed’s affair with Nico that would simply as simply be about Andy Warhol’s method to artwork, I’ll Be Your Mirror is a kind of Velvet Underground tracks that makes their preliminary industrial failure appear baffling. How might a pop track as great as this fail to draw consideration?

Nico and Morrison on stage on the New York Society for Medical Psychiatry annual dinner in 1966. {Photograph}: Adam Ritchie/Redferns

7. White Gentle/White Warmth (1968)

A delirious paean to amphetamine, its topic mirrored within the lyrics – “I absolutely do love to observe that stuff tip itself in” – and the turbulent, distorted rush of its sound. The band seem like barely in management because it careers alongside; the chaotic finale, the place Cale lastly loses his grip on the bass line, is simply incredible.

6. Heroin (1967)

Heroin was the deal-breaker at early Velvets gigs, upsetting a “howl of bewilderment and outrage”. The shock of its material has dulled with time, however its surges from folky lament to sonic riot nonetheless sound breathtaking. Oddly candy second: Reed’s chuckle as Tucker loses her place amid the maelstrom and instantly stops enjoying.

5. Pale Blue Eyes (1969)

“Excessive power doesn’t essentially imply quick,” Reed as soon as argued. “Excessive power has to do with coronary heart.” Hushed, limpidly stunning and virtually unbearably unhappy, Pale Blue Eyes’ depiction of a strained, adulterous relationship proves his level. In its personal susceptible means, it’s as highly effective as something the Velvet Underground recorded.

4. Candy Jane (1970)

Candy Jane began life as a ballad – see the variations recorded reside on the Matrix in San Francisco in 1969 – however, sped and toughened up, it turned as succinct and excellent a rock’n’roll track as has ever been written, primarily based round one of many best riffs of all time.

3. Venus in Furs (1967)

For a band who impressed a lot different music, the Velvet Underground’s catalogue is remarkably wealthy with songs that also sound like nothing else; they had been as inimitable as they had been influential. Venus in Furs is a living proof: umpteen artists had been galvanised by its darkish, austere ambiance; none succeeded in replicating it.

2. Sister Ray (1968)

A monumental journey into hitherto-uncharted musical territory, the place a primitive garage-rock riff meets Hubert Selby-inspired lyrics and improvisation that appears like a psychological drama enjoying out between Reed and Cale, all at skull-splitting quantity. Fifty-three years later, it’s with out peer for white-knuckle depth.

1. All Tomorrow’s Events (1967)

Ninety per cent of the Velvet Underground’s oeuvre consists of no-further-questions classics. The astonishingly excessive normal of virtually every little thing they did makes choosing their “finest” track a matter of non-public desire, slightly than qualitative judgment. So let’s go for Warhol’s favorite, on which the bitter and candy points of their debut album entwine faultlessly. The melody is beautiful; the music monolithic and unrelenting, powered by Cale’s hammering piano and Tucker’s stately drums; Nico’s efficiency completely inhabits the lyrics, which flip an outline of a lady selecting what costume to put on right into a meditation on vacancy and remorse. It’s authentic and completely masterly: the Velvet Underground in a nutshell.

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