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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those pale blue eyes ...
After the fierce White Light/White Heat, this third album saw the Velvet Underground in a calmer, more contemplative mood and exploring their softer side which first surfaced on songs like Sunday Morning and I’ll Be Your Mirror on the first album.
The exceptions are What Goes On with its shimmering guitars and Beginning To See The Light with its urgent rock...
Published on 19 Oct 2003 by Pieter Uys

2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Between Velvets and Solo
This is the one Velvet Underground album that few people seem to have. The first two albums are obviously the classics, and this one has some excellent songs like 'Candy Says' and 'Pale Blue Eyes'. Always seems to have the adjective 'Underrated' stuck in reviews, which I find an odd thing to say...
The problem is, Lou Reed has always been at his best when...
Published on 8 Feb 2002 by michael_m

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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those pale blue eyes ..., 19 Oct 2003
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
After the fierce White Light/White Heat, this third album saw the Velvet Underground in a calmer, more contemplative mood and exploring their softer side which first surfaced on songs like Sunday Morning and I’ll Be Your Mirror on the first album.
The exceptions are What Goes On with its shimmering guitars and Beginning To See The Light with its urgent rock riff and almost Stones-like flavour. Some Kinda Love is softer although there is still that unique driving sense of nervouness in the rhythm.
The gem of the album is Pale Blue Eyes, where Reed surpasses himself as a poet in the intimate, evocative images. This song also has one of the Velvets’ most gripping melodies and the delivery is perfect. A gentle ballad with a wistful feel, Pale Blue Eyes must be one of the most beautiful songs of all time.
There are plenty of beautiful ballads like Jesus, I’m Set Free and That’s The Story Of My Life. The Murder Mystery consists of spoken and sung parts over a brooding backing that becomes dissonant toward the end. This classic album concludes with the playful acoustic number Afterhours.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars blissful, simple, very strange, 3 Jan 2003
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
I wondered about this record for a very long time. After hearing their remarkable debut and the abrasive, trashy White Light/ White Heat album I was ready for another epic. This record centres more on the acoustic musings of Reed, and creates an almost subliminal atmosphere of Coltranesque smokiness.
The Velvet Underground have a very complete catalogue. It is not difficult to sense just why they are so 'influential'. This is a seminal record.
Beginning with the wonderful 'Candy Says', I found myself trying to remember a more unusual opener. The chord changes on this record are perfection.
The real treat, of course, is the 'Murder Mystery'. There is no other track comparable in the rock canon. Clearly, Reed was in another place when recording this 'third' album. Mixing organ and fluid guitar, a collage of unfathomable lyrics and wonderful drumming; this truly creates the intended atmosphere.
Another seminal track is 'Pale Blue Eyes'. Slow and gorgeous, Reed muses over love. This is their masterpiece, more complete than the debut. Whisper it quietly.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Velvets' Best?, 20 April 2006
Steve (By DUNDEE Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
I'll stick my neck out here- the Velvets, for all their reputation as terrifying, noisy avant-garde terrorists, are actually at their best when gentle, warm and melodic (eg Sunday Morning), and this album proves it. Amazingly for a Velvets album, it has (can you believe this?) production values, as well as highlights aplenty- such as Lou Reed's thrilling rhythm guitar solo on What Goes On, and the blissful trio Candy Says, Jesus and Pale Blue Eyes.
The real peak however, comes at the middle of the album- the soaring triumvirate of the Stonesy romp Beginning to see the Light (Lou sound like he's actually enjoying himself here, listen to him whoop at the chorus!), the almost catatonic I'm Set Free, and the jangly That's the Story of My life, which verges on being a throw-away track, but in the best possible way- in the way that only a great songwriter like Lou Reed could get away with.
The old adage about every Velvet's fan forming a band seems borne out by this record too. The blissed-out solo on I'm Set Free could be an offcut from the Pixies' Bossanova, while The Murder Mystery's bass riff must surely have inspired Joy Division (incidentally Ian Curtis named his dog Candy after the opening track!), while even After Hours has something of Oasis' Digsy's Dinner about it. It may not always quite reach the soaring peaks of the first album (like Venus in Furs), but overall its probably a better album, the Velvets having ditched the unlistenable elements without losing their alternative credentials (which would go completely out the window with the next album, Loaded).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life after John Cale, 25 Nov 2014
freewheeling frankie (north London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
Here it comes now, the third and (presumably) final instalment of the Velvet Underground super deluxe reissues from Universal. The format (10"x12" hardback book with cardboard slots for the CDs) is identical to the first two.

As with The Velvet Underground & Nico, there are 6 CDs, with the last two being live recordings. Like White Light/White Heat, however, the essay is by David Fricke, and again as with WL/WH it told me a lot less that I didn't already know than Richie Unterberger's essay with the VU&N super deluxe, though again there are fascinating quotes from band members, most particularly from a recent interview with Doug Yule undertaken specifically for this project.

Unlike both previous super deluxe outings, this one contains three mixes of the original album - the "Closet Mix" by Lou Reed, the Val Valentin mix insisted upon by Verve/MGM because they weren't too keen on Reed's mix, and a mono mix described as "Promotional Mono Mix", meaning it was presumably only issued to radio stations and didn't make it into record shops. David Fricke asserts in his essay that it was the Closet mix which was originally issued on LP in 1969 and the Val Valentin mix later replaced it but I had always previously heard that the original issue was the Val Valentin mix, and the Closet mix was then issued in the 1970s. I've never heard a first edition to confirm this but the mid-1970s UK second edition where I first encountered this album was definitely the Closet Mix. Things got more complicated with the arrival of CDs - on the earliest CD issue, one half of the album was from the Closet mix and one half from the Val Valentin mix; this error was fairly quickly rectified in favour of the Val Valentin mix and the Closet mix then turned up in its entirety on Peel Slowly & See.

Let's look at the contents. As with the super deluxe editions of their first two albums, the following considerations apply for fans considering purchase:
1. The mastering
2. The mono mix
3. The studio extras
4. The live recording
5. The amount of previously unheard content

The mastering:
Is absolutely fine, though headphones reveal quite a lot of hiss in places. Of course both stereo mixes of the original album have already been available in respectable masterings.

The mono mix:
My sense of anticipation for this wasn't at the same level as it was for the mono WL/WH. Just as well, as it sounds suspiciously like a bounce-down of the Closet mix - as well as sounding very similar, it uses the same take of Some Kinda Love - the Val Valentin mix used a completely different take. The Murder Mystery perhaps inevitably doesn't work well in mono - the two recitations just interfere with each other when not separated into left and right channels - but the rest of the album sounds fine, just not very different.

The studio extras:
CD 2 (The Closet Mix) contains a bonus track in the shape of Beginning To See The Light (Alternate Closet Mix). Presumably rejected in favour of the released Closet mix version, it's slightly inferior to that version and is of course the same take. CD 3 (Promotional Mono Mix) contains two bonus tracks in the shape of the single versions of What Goes On and Jesus. Both mono, the former is an edit but otherwise sounds identical to the full length mono version; the latter is effectively indistinguishable from the mono album version; someone with sharper ears than me may be able to discern some minor difference.

CD 4 contains all the studio material the Velvets recorded in 1969 after the original release of this album, ostensibly for a fourth album which didn't get issued at the time. All of this material first saw the (legal) light of day in 1985 and 1986 on the albums VU and Another View. Most of the tracks on those albums were newly mixed for those releases - only 4 of the original 1969 mixes (Ocean, I'm Gonna Move Right In, Ferryboat Bill and Rock & Roll) were used. Those 4 appear here and are joined by another 4 previously unissed original 1969 mixes and 6 brand new mixes from 2014 - the 1984 and 1986 mixes have been consigned to the dumper. Straight away, the 1969 mix of Foggy Notion is way superior to the 1984 mix - weightier, and less reverb on the snare. Next up is a new mix of One Of These Days; the new mix has clearly been done in the spirit of the 1969 mixes rather than the over-reverbed 1984/86 mixes. Happily, this applies throughout - whether 1969 or 2014 mixes have been used, they are hugely superior to the 1980s ones.

The live recording
Consists of recordings made at the Matrix in San Francisco on 26-27 November 1969; it's unclear whether this represents 2 gigs or one that went on past midnight but if it's the former the individual tracks aren't specified to one night or the other. Note also that the two tracks here that appeared on The Quine Tapes (Rock And Roll was also on 1969 Live) are supposedly recorded on different dates (Sister Ray on 3 December, Rock And Roll on 25 November) so the dates here could be wrong. The Matrix had an in-house 4-track recording system and performances at the venue appear to have been routinely recorded, though due to the expense of half inch tape they weren't always kept. Six of these performances (Some Kinda Love, Beginning To See The Light, Lisa Says, Rock And Roll, White Light/White Heat and Sweet Jane) were first issued in 1974 on 1969 Velvet Underground Live, along with more from the Matrix and a few from a venue in Texas; it's unclear whether the other tracks on that album from the Matrix were recorded on the same night(s) as the ones here - they played quite a long residency at the venue.

What isn't clear is whether the compilers of 1969 Velvet Underground Live had access to the 4-track tapes or were just given mix-downs. Either way, the difference in sound quality is staggering; I've always found the recordings on 1969 Live entirely listenable but they were undoubtedly of "good bootleg" quality. Here, the compilers HAVE had access to the 4-track tapes and we now have 2 hours of the best-sounding live Velvet Underground recordings ever to see the light of day, legally or otherwise. Not just marginally the best-sounding, but by the proverbial country mile - the recordings are amazingly clean-sounding, with considerable weight and punch where appropriate, begging the very obvious questions of "how much more is there?" and "when do we get a remixed/remastered/expanded version of 1969 Live?" or, if there's a lot more of this stuff, "when do we get the Velvets at the Matrix box set?"

As well as the 6 tracks that first appeared on 1969 Live, the version of Sister Ray here first appeared on The Quine Tapes, mastered from a cassette recording - again, the improvement in quality is massive, though there is a sudden drop in quality for about 30 seconds round about the 33 minute mark. The remaining 11 tracks have never seen the light of day before. It seems very likely that at least some of these recordings were considered for 1969 Live and rejected - where different versions of the same songs appear on that album, they are generally superior to the versions here, though not much - the overall standard is very high. Finally, 4 songs here did not appear on 1969 Live at all - Venus In Furs (replacing John Cale's viola with organ); a particularly unexpected (and very fast) run though There She Goes Again; and excellent if fairly straight versions of I'm Set Free and After Hours.

The amount of previously unheard content:
While there are a lot of previously unheard mixes of studio material here, and in the case of the 1969 recordings this is a far from insignificant bonus, there are no previously unheard studio recordings here at all. But as detailed above, 11 of the 18 live tracks have never ever seen the light of day before, and some of them are superb.

In conclusion:
Like the super deluxe editions of the Velvets' first two albums, this is a superbly produced item containing iconic and brilliant music; this set is certainly better value than the 3 CD super deluxe version of White Light/White Heat. There are two very strong reasons for buying this if you're a serious Velvets fan - the massively superior mixes of the 1969 "4th album" material, and the staggeringly good sound quality of the live material. As a result, the relatively disappointing mono mix doesn't dent the desirability of the set overall. Unlike the WL/WH super deluxe, it also beats the 2 CD "Deluxe" version hands down: CD 1 of the deluxe edition is the Val Valentin mix of the original album - i.e. you can still only get the Closet mix on a box set - this one or Peel Slowly & See. CD 2 is a "best" of the Matrix recordings, omitting We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together, Venus In Furs, There She Goes Again, Sister Ray, I'm Set Free and After Hours - all previously unissued performances except for Sister Ray. Personally I think the opportunity to hear that Sister Ray in good quality is one of the main reasons to go for the Super Deluxe, along with the audio justice finally done to the 1969 recordings, none of which are on the deluxe edition.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Velvety, 22 Jan 2006
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
After the unfortunate departure of John Cale, the Velvet Underground had a musical revamp -- their third album, "The Velvet Underground" is smoother and less gritty. Stripped of the shock value, the best of the Velvet Underground shines through -- great musical skills and beautiful songwriting.
That change is evident from the very start, "Candy Says," which is sort of the musical musings of transsexual Candy Darling. Rather than playing this for shock value, the way the Velvets did earlier -- see songs like "Heroin" and "Venus in Furs" -- it's soft, sweet and a bit poignant, ending with "Maybe when I'm older/What do you think I'd see/If I could walk away from me."
That mellower tone sets the stage for the rest of the album, which relies on poetic lyrics and strong music -- they no longer sing about S&M and drugs, but about self-examination and redemtpion. The Velvets' rock sound is less jagged and more laid-back, and they even take a foray into twangy country music in "Some Kinda Love."
A few songs hint at the earlier work that the Velvets did, with tambourines and blurred, high vocals from Lou Reed. But can you imagine the Velvet Underground, in their first album, ever singing a non-satirical song about Jesus Christ, as they do in one haunting ballad on here? I certainly can't, and it seems to be a part of the pensive, self-examining mood that permeates this album.
The one exception is "The Murder Mystery." It's literally impossible to understand the "right voice" and "left voice" speaking in this song. It's interesting, but completely unintelligible. However, this is amply made up for in the mature instrumentation and lyrics; while Doug Yule was not as great as John Cale, he does a good job with the organ. The fuzzy edge of Velvet Underground rock is retained, while they branched out into ethereal ballads and pretty acoustic songs.
Reed's lyrics betray a greater maturity, and maybe greater poignancy. "One minute born, one minute doomed,/One minute up, one minute down/What goes on in your mind?" he ponders at the start of the album. He sings some of the songs, sounding surprisingly melodic, since his voice was kind of creaky; on the other hand, Moe Tucker provides some fair vocals for songs like "After Hours."
The Velvet Underground hit another peak in their self-titled album. Softer, more thoughtful, this shows them off at their best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Late night/early morning wasted beauty, 1 Mar 2002
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
I've just been having a Velvets revival after arriving home late and staying up later too many times recently. It's the first album that gets pulled out and placed on my turntable, lighting a cigarette, pouring a drink and laying back. The way the album comes gently in makes me smile every time, sighing out loud and knowing where I'll be for the duration. Pure classic. The tenderness of the love songs and odes to Jesus are quite staggering in their lullaby beauty, as though Lou is sitting strumming guitar propped on a cushion next to you. Glad to see in other reviews that Pale Blue Eyes is thought of as the greatest love is. Like a tender kiss that you can never get bored of being given.
The grinning amphetamine kick of old runs through the veins of tracks like What Goes On and Beginning To See The Light, joyous grooves that prickle and ride on forever.
Primal Scream have said that this is the sound they should have had for their "Give Out...." album. I so wish they had. If the so called "Brownhouse Sessions" of that album see the light of day then maybe we'll hear their version of the Velvets wasted glamour one day.
So much more gets said about the VU debut than their third (and Loaded), but to me this is a true classic. One to play again and again as the sun comes up on another bleary eyed morning.
Should your lover ever leave you, you'll always have this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Velvet Underground At Their Peak, 4 July 2014
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
The Velvet Underground’s self-titled 1969 debut album is an often soft, melodic, sometimes even soothing affair, with an often childlike quality to the lyrics and music.

‘Candy says’ is a great example of The Velvet Underground Par Excellence. It is sublime, melancholic and wistful in the same way as ‘Sunday Morning’, insightful and knowing in the same way as ‘Femme Fatale’. It’s subject matter, for non VU fans, is the famous Andy Warhol cohort Candy Darling, a person who came to be defined by her transsexualism, yet eventually transcended it with her radiant beauty. It is only right that a song about such a fascinating human being should also be fascinating, and ‘Candy Says’ does not disappoint.

As album openers go, it is beautiful, memorable, timeless. The simplicity of it helps make it timeless. The music surrounding Doug Yule’s vocal amounts to few simple chords and very basic drums, allowing the stunningly sincere vocal to be the main focus. The song fascinates this reviewer, because it is uplifting yet wistful, in the major key, but oddly poignant. It is in Lou Reed’s lyrics, however, that the real beauty appears. “Candy says, I’ve come to hate my body/And all that it requires in this world/Candy says, I’d like to know completely, what other souls discreetly talk about”, before going on to mention bluebirds flying, ending the chorus with the question: “What do you think I’d see, if I could walk away from me?” Candy Darling was one of Lou Reed’s fixations, along with other beautiful enigmas such as Nico, and in this song, he has captured her tortured persona succinctly, and with such effortless articulacy that it’s a genuine master-class in song-writing.

In contrast, ‘What Goes On’ is a Beatles-esque, poppy number with some genuinely great guitar riffery and some Hammond organs. It is similar in tempo to ‘Run Run Run’, and boasts the same slightly ‘rough around the edges’ production values which were the trademark of Velvet Underground, a precursor to Punk music.

‘Some Kinda Love’ contains more classic Lou Reed lines such as “Like a dirty French novel, combines the absurd with the vulgar”, and also sounds like vintage VU, whilst boasting fairly simplistic and repetitive drums/guitar. Reed’s voice is always understated.

‘Pale Blue Eyes’ is undoubtedly another VU anthem, featuring simplistic, childlike lyrics, but all the more effective for it. The stripped back guitars, and tambourine, along with Reed’s unpretentious vocal give the entire song an almost nursery rhyme feel. It is soft and subtle in the same manner as ‘Candy Says’.

‘Jesus’ takes a similar approach, short, effective and very unassuming, but with a touch of Reed’s often endearing vulnerability: “Help me find my proper place, help me in my weakness”. Vulnerability would be a theme later explored on ‘Berlin’, to a far greater extent.

‘Beginning To See The Light’ is another of the more ‘catchy’ VU efforts, sounding like mid-sixties era Beatles, just slightly coarser. It has great melodies, and is genuinely infectious.

‘I’m Set Free’ contains some truly beautiful guitar work, soft vocals and yet more of Maureen Tucker’s unimposing drumming style. Two minutes in, a beautiful guitar riff begins, dreamlike and very much characteristic of the era – but still great to listen to.

‘That’s The Story Of My Life’, at only two minutes and four seconds, is the shortest song on the album, but still manages to provide more classic VU melodies and the trademark lyrical approach of Lou Reed, the approach of looking back at something, usually with a certain amount of regret or sadness. Who cannot relate? Even before his recent death Lou Reed was critically lauded for having authenticity and a lyrical voice all of his own. That lyrical voice is strong throughout this entire album.

‘The Murder Mystery’ is easily the most unusual song on the album, and sprawls out for nearly nine minutes. It features Doors-esque Hammond organs and shared, double-tracked vocals from all the VU members. It’s sound has more than a hint of late 1960’s psychedelia to it and is also unlike any other song on this album. Velvet Underground’s musical output could by and large be separated into two groups: accessible, melodic, sweet and brilliantly crafted short songs, or large, chaotic, angular and hostile epics; think ‘Heroin’ or ‘Sister Ray’. This song definitely falls into the latter category, with distorted vocals and a general disorder to it which creates a feeling of spontaneity. Very few bands manage to create this feeling of ‘spontaneity’, the feeling that they’re not just a band going through the motions. Public Image Limited were one, Velvet Underground, however, laid the blueprint for that kind of artistic, free-expression kind of approach. Their overall artistic vibe can of course originally be traced back to Andy Warhol, but Lou Reed was also largely responsible for some of VU’s most striking music.

The album ends on ‘After Hours’, in which Maureen Tucker takes over vocals, accompanied by an understated acoustic guitar. It is the second shortest song, and Tucker’s vocals are also low-key, with a laid-back, ‘folksy’ style which has been emulated hundreds of times since.

Even though this is not the classic Velvet Underground line-up which also included John Cale, (and of course, who could forget Nico) this is still a hugely worthwhile album for many reasons. It’s frequent simplicity and lack of pretension are at the heart of it. The lyrical talent of Lou Reed also shines brightly here. He had a unique lyrical voice which managed to convey a certain mood and tone. This was evident throughout his career, and listening to albums such as this will remind the listener of just what a great talent he was. Musically, the number of bands influenced by the Velvet Underground is huge and this album can certainly be counted amongst their many notable achievements.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noise Passed Over in Favour Of A Lyrical Feel..., 15 Dec 2009
Og Oggilby "Og Oggilby" (North London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
Lou Reed had staged something of a coup by ousting John Cale between the making of 'White Light / White Heat' and the release of this, their third album. He gave the other Velvets - Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrison - an ultimatum, that either Cale went, or he would split the band up, a bit like a kid who wants to be captain of his football team, otherwise he'll take his ball home. However, such autocratic behaviour resulted in the band producing arguably their best album. He brought in the more malleable Doug Yule in to play keyboards, bass, a bit of guitar and vocals, and the atonal, feedback drenched sound of yore was replaced with a very softened, reflective sound, that threw the emphasis on Reed's lyrical values. He responded by supplying some of his most tender of lyrics ('Pale Blue Eyes', 'Jesus'), and paid homage to his doo-wop predelictions in the opener, 'Candy Says'. That's not to say that there was no room for sonic experimentation; the sort of aural 'cut-up' of 'The Murder Mystery' was as innovative as anything on the first two albums, whilst the muted tonal colours of 'Some Kinda Love' and the twelve string jangles of 'Beginning To See The Light' and 'That's The Story of My Life' were refreshing subtleties to the Velvets sonic palette. 'The Velvet Underground' shows that there was a lot of life left in the band, despite the crucial exodus of Cale. There is really no good reason for not acquiring this luminous and utterly alluring album.

Oh yes, and by the way - the reason 'Some Kinda Love' sounds different is because the mix used is the alternative 'closet' mix - apparently, the wrong mix was used for the CD, and the original is on the 'Peel Slowly And See' box.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the all-time great albums, but avoid the CD, 17 Jan 2008
Mr. K. Hubbard "kevinatkhco" (Glastonbury) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
I keep on coming back to some of the tracks on this album, and yes, I did buy it on shiny black vinyl when it came out in the late sixties. For me, some kinda love, pale blue eyes, and what goes on are the standout tracks, but, it has to be said, there's not one duffer on the album. Best of all, it sounds as good today as it did back in sixty nine. An absolute classic gem of soft but weird rock, beautifully produced and recorded, and showcasing Lou Reed's song writing at its best. Buy it and enjoy! This is one of the best albums of all time, and truly seminal in the way it influenced rock music from then on.
One word of warning ... the original album, i.e. LP, is the version you need. The songs on that are totally different to the remastered CD ... e.g. Some Kinda Love is a fabulous three and a half minutes on the LP, with the guitar far more in the background, with far subtler strumming and much more nuanced playing, than in the 4 minute version on the CD, which is frankly crap in comparison. So, if you can't get the old CD with a 3.34 minute version of Some Kinda Love, beware, the remastered CD is nowhere near as good. So much has been lost as to be unforgiveable.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best, 23 Jan 2004
This review is from: The Velvet Underground (Audio CD)
the velvet underground are generally appreciated as one of the most influencial bands around, however it is perhaps their third album that desrves the most plaudits of all.
it contains some of reeds best compositions and arguably there is not 1 bad track on it. the tour de force of "murder mysteries" is a delight as are the more delicate songs like "candy says" and "pale blue eyes".
there is barely any evidence of the agressive and messy noise of white light/white heat, which although is a great album, is not the velvet underground at their best.
this however is. the songs maybe not be complicated and may lack the rock n roll edge of past albums but nevertheless it ranks up their as one of the best of all time.
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