The Velvet Underground
There are some rock followers who rate the Velvet Underground right behind the Stones in importance, and especially on the East Coast, the return of the Underground will ignite a revival in rock'n'roll that will bring new fame to Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, Doug Yule and Moe Tucker. The revitalized Underground unleash a Stones-like rhythm machine and spirit that's sure to bring "Cool It Down," "I Found a Reason" and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'," to the pop charts. And why not?
- Billboard, 1970.
The Velvets are to Manhattan what the Rascals are to New York -- that is, they really make "Rock & Roll" (a title), but they're also really intellectual and ironic. Lou Reed's singing embodies the parodox even on beat-goes-on throwaways about cowboys and trains. Other subjects include drag, poverty, not loving nature, and the new age, mysteriously connected to an over-the-hill actress who would like her old age back. A
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Easily the band's most accessible and "musical" record; it, of course, wasn't released until after Lou Reed, the center of it all, had abandoned the group. This is not the abrasive, seamy sound with which the band first lashed its miniscule but devoted audience; hell, this is almost gentle, yet made special by Reed's lyrical character studies of some fascinating fictional creations.
- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.
Recorded in the summer of 1970 while the band was playing a summer-long residency at Max's Kansas City in New York. Feeling increasingly disaffected, Reed walked out after the last gig at Max's, never to return. The album was remixed and edited without him, much to his later chagrin. Whatever imperfections may have consequently occurred, Loaded remains an absolute must. The Velvets were now playing stripped-down rock & roll and Reed was writing such enduring classics as "Sweet Jane" and "Rock & Roll," as well as the underrated "New Age," "Train Round the Bend," and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'." * * * * *
- Rob Bowman, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Loaded is the band's most determinedly pop-oriented effort, featuring the Reed masterpieces "Rock and Roll" and "Sweet Jane." * * * * 1/2
- Greg Kot, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
The Velvet Underground made their most commercially accessible album in 1970, during a summer of triumph and stress. They were playing their first New York shows in three years (at Max's Kansas City) while slowly falling apart. Drummer Maureen Tucker was on maternity leave; singer-guitarist-songwriter Lou Reed quit in August before the record was done. But Reed left behind a pair of FM-airplay hits ("Sweet Jane," "Rock 'n' Roll"), two of his finest ballads ("New Age," "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'") and a record that highlights the R&B/doo-wop roots and Sun Records crackle deep inside the Velvets' noir-guitar maelstrom.
Loaded was chosen as the 109th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
(2015 Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition) Most of the material on this reissue of 1970's Loaded has seen the light of day already, and a new live set from Philadelphia sounds like a bootleg of a bootleg. But even that has its treasures: two Loaded tunes at the end -- "Train Round the Bend" and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" -- that exchange the pop niceties of the studio versions for minimalist guitar pulse that becomes towering. "I think that was fantastic," says Reed at the end of a raw early studio take of Loaded's "Lonesome Cowboy Bill." It's not. But it sure is interesting.
- Joe Levy, Rolling Stone, 11/19/15.
Reed disbanded the Velvets before this release, but the swan-song fourth LP featured some of his most refined songwriting, especially the classics "Sweet Jane" and "Rock & Roll." "New Age" is a slept-on highlight of Reed's ballad catalog. And "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" blueprints the spirit of Seventies rock from the wreckage of the Sixties.
- Will Hermes, Rolling Stone, 11/3/16.
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