- 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)
White Light / White Heat Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
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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!
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
Top Customer Reviews
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
Is fine.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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!
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I only heard "Sister Ray" for the first time this year and it's a classic ! The rest of the album is fine, but not as good as the other VU-cds.Published 25 days ago by Hans Westerlaken
White light/ white heat. Really like this album. It's dark, raw and edgy. Love sister ray and the gift (darkly funny).
But to be fair all six tracks are great. Read more
Five stars for the brilliant 'Sister Ray'.....a jam but what a jam. In 1968 I was 'blown away' by the 'shock of the new' of this album.Published 6 months ago by Mr.Jif [AC] Smart
When the recent DELUXE and SUPER DELUXE versions of 'THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO' and 'WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT' were first announced I was fairly disgusted with the price of the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by John H. McCarthy
I wasn't a great fan of this album when I first bought it in 1973, when I first became a Lou Reed fan, but over the years I have become to love it almost as much as "VU and... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Cornishpasty