The Velvet Underground (Super Deluxe Edition) - Rolling Stone
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The Velvet Underground (Super Deluxe Edition)

A classic LP lingers on

The Velvet Underground

1970: (L-R) Doug Yule, Lou Reed, Maureen "Moe" Tucker and Sterling Morrison of the rock and roll band "Velvet Underground" pose for a portrait in 1970. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

When Lou Reed talks about “the sorrows of the contemporary world, which I know we all know so well” during a 1969 live performance included in this magnificent six-CD repackaging of the Velvet Underground’s pivotal third album, he could be introducing virtually any song on the record. Recorded after the departure of band co-founder John Cale, it was the apotheosis of Reed the singer-poet, with gorgeous melodies supporting center-stage lyrics. “Candy Says” and “Pale Blue Eyes” may be Reed’s most quietly heart-wrenching songs, “Jesus” and “After Hours” his tenderest, “Beginning To See The Light” his most deliciously hopeful, followed closely by “What Goes On” and its exquisite multi-tracked guitar solo – a contender for Reed’s best ever. Alongside alternate LP mixes are early versions of “Andy’s Chest,” “The Ocean,” and “Rock’n’Roll”; fascinating abandoned outtakes slated for a supposed “lost” fourth LP (“Coney Island Steeplechase,” “Ferryboat Bill”); and some of the most exciting live VU recordings ever. The Velvets were a dance band in concert: See the galloping “I Can’t Stand It Anymore,” with its free-jazzy, “Eight Miles High”-style guitar blasts, and a repeatedly-cresting, 36-minute “Sister Ray” (a brilliantly-restored snapshot of the performance featured on Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes). Instead of undercutting the joy, Reed’s clear-eyed vision magnifies it – a testament to what superfan Lester Bangs, writing in his 1969 Rolling Stone review of the original album, noted was “perhaps the most important lesson of the Velvet Underground: the power of the human soul to transcend its darker levels.”

In This Article: The Velvet Underground


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