★★★★★ Tracks:Candy Says
What Goes On
Pale Blue Eyes
That's the Story of My Life
While the first two records could be the bombastic, drug induced Friday and Saturday nights that made up the The Velvet Underground’s lives for many years, the third album would be the quiet, reflective Sunday Morning that followed. It’s folksy, hushed, and finds Lou Reed at his most introspective. He and the band appeared to grow tired of the partying, the New York social life, the drugs, Warhol, and were ready to move on. With John Cale booted from the band and a focus on new musical direction, move on the Velvet Underground did. This was now a vehicle where Reed drove his masterful songwriting unilaterally. They added Doug Yule to flesh out the bass, keyboard, and additional vocals, and he does a fantastic job.
While I prefer the louder, livelier version of the Velvet Underground to the quieter brand, you can’t argue with the great songs that are included here. “Pale Blue Eyes” might just be the prettiest damn Reed song ever recorded, and “After Hours,” sung by drummer Maureen Tucker, is so innocent and sugary sweet you can’t help but grin like a kid for the entirety of its two minute length. “What Goes On” gives us a little taste of the rock’n’roll we loved so much from the first record and we get the experimental edge of the second in "The Murder Mystery," another long, spoken word jam.
For those of us who are not religious and prefer it be left out of the music we consume, the middle part of The Velvet Underground can be a bit challenging. Lou Reed, tired of his lifestyle choices over the majority of the 60’s, was turning to Jesus when he began the songwriting. While the instrumentation to “Jesus,” “Beginning to See the Light,” and “I’m Set Free,” are up there with the best of the Velvet Underground tracks, I have a hard time stomaching some of the lyricism. However a man as interesting and innovative as Lou Reed requires me to keep an open mind, and the honest and forthright lyrics about where his journeys through life take him make it worthwhile. Religious differences aside, The Velvet Underground is another spectacular record from one of my favorite bands of all time.