White Light/White Heat: 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

What a testament to Lou Reed: his vision, his guitar, his sheer will to stomp on people's nerves. This superbly expanded White Light/White Heat was in the works long before the man's death, but you couldn't ask for a more fitting tribute. It's the Velvets' loudest, meanest, most ear-corroding moment — and for many fans, their best. The Velvets cut the album in the New York of 1967, but they sound a million miles away from the Summer of Love. You can hear Reed and his guitar try to out-sneer each other in "I Heard Her Call My Name," until his mind splits open and the guitar wins. The extras make this edition a must for VU freaks, especially the long-bootlegged April 1967 live gig with the surf-punk rave "I'm Not a Young Man Anymore." In this "Sister Ray," Reed faces off with John Cale's organ, Sterling Morrison's guitar and Mo Tucker's drums for a 19-minute feedback cage match. There's also a previously unheard version of "Beginning to See the Light," from VU's final session with Cale. In the liner notes, Reed calls this album "the Statue of Liberty of punk, with the red light on top." Let freedom ring.

From The Archives Issue 1197: December 5, 2013