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White Light / White Heat Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.5 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (20 May 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B000002G7E
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  Blu-ray Audio
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,884 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

The proto-punk rock revolution that VU sparked reached its pinnacle right here. Feedback frenzies and narcotic odes abound as you behold Here She Comes Now; I Heard Her Call My Name ; the title cut; the mind-blowing epic Sister Ray , and more!

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Nothing in their debut could really have prepared fans for the sonic assault the Velvets unleashed in White Light/White Heat. Freed from Andy Warhol's patronage (and Nico's vocals), Lou Reed and company strip production values to a minimum and turn out a primitive rock & roll masterpiece: Everything on this record sounds distorted and abrasive. Depending on how you feel about these sorts of things, this makes it either their best or their worst record. Of course, underneath it all are some of Reed's greatest songs, from the title track to the wistful "Here She Comes Now". It all culminates on side two with the raucously joyous "I Heard Her Call My Name" ("And then my mind split open," Reed sings and his guitar lets you know just about how that would feel) and the epic "Sister Ray"--10 minutes of transcendent, pounding fuzz as Reed searches for his "mainline." --Percy Keegan

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By freewheeling frankie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Dec. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This edition, like the similar one of The Velvet Underground & Nico, is billed as a "45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition" and has an identical format of a (roughly) 10" x 12" hardback book with cardboard slots for the CDs at the back. As with the VU&N super deluxe edition, it contains stereo and mono versions of the original album, extras and out-takes and a live recording.

But there the resemblance ends. Firstly, it contains only 3 CDs as opposed to 6 - the relatively small difference in price between the two indicates that you're mostly paying for the book, but while this is beautifully produced as with the VU&N, it's considerably slimmer - 56 pp as against 88 - and 5 of those pages are occupied by large print quotes lifted from elsewhere in the text (as opposed to only 1 with VU&N). While much of the content is similar - an essay, photos and gig posters - there's much less of it, and unlike the VU&N you don't get the lyrics. With regard to the photos, which are excellent as far as they go, this is not surprising - during the VU&N era they were part of Warhol's Factory milieu and far more regularly photographed. By the time they recorded WL/WH they'd cut their ties with Warhol and were on their own. The essay (by David Fricke) is not only much shorter than Richie Unterberger's in the VU&N but told me a lot less that I didn't already know, though it contains a lot of good quotes of the band members.

However, now we come to the musical contents. There are 5 considerations for the fan who already has a relatively recently mastered version of the stereo mix on CD:
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 fine.
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By freewheeling frankie TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Mar. 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you've got this far you probably know this is one of the most critically acclaimed rock albums ever. That is well deserved but it doesn't mean you're going to like it - it's also one of the most uncompromising rock albums ever (one reason the critics like it so much) and was quite unprecedented at the time - and completely out of step with the current hippie/flower power/peace and love ethos. It was also made very quickly and cheaply with an engineer who wasn't hugely enamoured of the group, so the niceties of production were pretty much non-existent. This doesn't matter, for the most part, as long as you like extreme, noisy, brutish rock'n'roll.

The title track is a short, snappy slice of distorted rock'n'roll which you could imagine being recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard - although it would sound very different. Then they slow down for The Gift, with the band jamming grungily away on 3 chords in one channel while John Cale, with his marvellously deadpan Welsh voice, recites an amusing and macabre short story Lou Reed wrote while studying English in the early 1960s. This is followed by the two quietest tracks on the album, Lady Godiva's Operation and Here She Comes Now. The former is sung mostly by Cale, with sudden interjections from Reed, and is another macabre little tale over a quite unique droney background with the only appearance of Cale's viola on this album. The latter is by far the most "pleasant" piece of music on the album, a prettily hypnotic little ditty wondering whether a girl will come.

What was side 2 of the original lp begins with probably the most extreme track, I Heard Her Call My Name.
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Format: Audio CD
This is my favourite VU album. It is one of those albums that you can't quite play loud enough. The band are at their heaviest instrumentally and Lou sings everything like he is the most pissed off person alive. He sounds, in a Dylan kind of way, like he knows the stuff is so good he doesn't have to try too hard to hit the notes.
The blueprint for loads of subsequent stuff, from early punk (Cale helped the Stooges out on their debut) and Can ('Hallelujah' is really just a funky 'Sister Ray') right up to the whole grunge thing (Check out Nirvana's version of Here she comes now, if you can find it). The most outstanding tracks are the more extreme - Cale narrating the horrifically funny 'The Gift', the maddest guitar I have ever heard on 'I Heard her call my name' and of course 'Sister Ray' - over 17 minutes of amp abuse that just wears you out.
Dark, disturbing but just so cool. The sound all young guitar based bands want, but never really achieve. This album is the best reason in the world to go deaf!
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Format: Audio CD
The Velvet Underground were perhaps the ultimate yin/yang band: with an incredible lyricist who was selfless about who actually sang them, capable of self-surrender ("Jesus") and total egotism (Lou Reed turning down the rest of the band in "I Heard Her Call My Name" - thankfully improved on the remaster), with a musical character capable of howling feedback and sweet chiming melodies, artistic yet streetwise, tough but vulnerable, basic yet relentlessly experimental, concise and pithy but able to do stream-of-consciousness ("Black Angel's Death Song") and a seventeen-minute epic, they had it all.

Where their debut combined all of these assets (making it a candidate for the greatest album of all time - and certainly one of the most influential), "White Light/White Heat" saw them focus on their dissonance and ferocity. (And their next album "The Velvet Underground" was all subdued sweet melodies). Consequently this can be a tough album to listen to, should you prefer the more focused and structured Velvet's songs - there's no "Sweet Jane" here, nor even "Venus In Furs" or "Heroin". In addition, this album is often cited as the worst-recorded album of all time, for the feedback, bleedthrough and distortion of the red-lining guitars and organ blew the studio capability apart (this being the mid-60s we're talking about here).

Nonetheless, this is a remarkable album, with musianship to die for. It starts relatively conventionally, with the eponymous title-track. It features a tremendous honkytonk rhythm, almost similar to "All Tomorrow's Parties", but where that felt portentous, this feels manically exhuberant, appropriately given the subject matter of speed. It ends with an incredible surge of bludgeoning energy, the like of which I have never heard anywhere else.
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