Customer Reviews: Loaded
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on November 15, 2003
This record has always seemed to divide many velvets fans. To some, its the band's greatest achievement, to other's, its a failed attempt to pander to mainstream tastes. As with most things in life, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. "Loaded" is, in many ways, a blatantly commercial pop record. But, is this necessarily a bad thing? It's not as if "Loaded" is lacking in substance. "Sweet Jane", "Rock and Roll" and "Oh! Sweet Nothing" are timeless, expertly crafted songs that just happen to be alot more accessable than much of the group's earlier material. It's just a shame that Moe Tucker was not on hand to lend her minimalistic, one-of-a-kind style of drumming to this album.
This 2-CD set is, in this Velvets fan opinion, absolutely essential. Even if you own the box set, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. It contains a treasure trove of previously unreleased material that is uniformly excellent. I love how disc two features an alternate version of "Loaded" in the same running order as the original. If you are considering purchasing this album, by all means, skip the standard CD version and instead spring the little bit of extra money for the "Fully Loaded" edition. The sound and packaging are superior and you get about 80% more material. Its well worth it.
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on June 28, 2000
"Loaded" was Lou Reed's rock and roll masterpiece, an album that dropped the screaming guitars, overt drug references, and weird (but beautiful) experiments in favor of a stripped down reinterpretation of three-chord rock and roll. In many respects, "Loaded" foreshadowed the back-to-basics aesthetic of the garage and punk movements of the 70s (see the first albums by the Ramones, the Modern Lovers, and the Pretenders, for example).
"Loaded" (available in the VU boxed set and in its original format as a single disk) with its occasional nods to pop culture and musical fads (something the Velvets specifically avoided on other releases) sounds a little dated, and the mix of the original album was admittedly weak (Reed has repeatedly voiced his displeasure with the mix in print), but the songs and performances are still remarkable.
Considering the "for fans only" quality of many of the outtakes and extras available on the VU boxed set, "Peel Slowly and See," I was absolutely thrilled to find such a strong collection of songs on the "Fully Loaded Edition." The extended versions of "Sweet Jane" (which includes the lost verse "heavenly wine and roses seem to whisper to her when she smiles"), "Rock and Roll," and "New Age" are all nice additions, but I really got off on some of the alternate or early versions of the songs. "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" sounds like an entirely new song with Lou doing a crazy Jagger-esque vocal over a rumbling piano. The early version of "Cool it Down" sounds sparse, but Lou is as playful as I have ever heard. The inclusion of other "lost" songs such as "Love Makes you Feel Ten Feet Tall," "I Love You," "Satellite of Love" (which later appeared on Lou Reed's solo albums) are also a nice touch.
"The Fully Loaded Edition" avoids the problems of most alternate mix collections by including the source album in its (nearly) original format. Buying the "Fully Loaded Edition" for the original "Loaded" is no sin, but a large number of the alternate tracks are strong enough to stand alongside the band's best work. This is one of the few alternate mix/outtake albums that would actually be of interest to only casual fans (the others: "The Basement Tapes" and "Another VU").
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on November 3, 2015
This is about the 5CD/1DVD-A - 45th Anniversary Edition.
The "live at Max's Kansas City" is still its underwhelming self, a poorly sounding bootleg, maybe a bit polished by the remastering. But it's an audiophile's dream compared to the "Second Fret" live disc. Consider that the bass and the vocals here are virtually inaudible: what you hear is the sound of two (badly recorded) guitars - no drummer on this set - strumming what might be the chords to Velvet Underground songs. Occasionally, you get the impression that someone is actually singing… far, far away in the background. Listening to the "Second Fret" disc made me realize that labels won't stop at nothing. If they have released this, they will go on releasing anything, no matter how wretched and pointless and useless.

On the other hand, the original album is beautifully remastered, and the “promotional mono” version is really engaging, possibly even better and punchier than the stereo one, a truly welcome addition.
The demos&extra tracks are equally great: these are actual studio recordings, excellent and brilliantly recorded, but most of them have already been released so if you own the 1997 “Fully Loaded” 2-CD edition you already have most of these.
There’s also an audio-only DVD with 5.1 mixes, which may be of great interest to many - not to me so I won’t comment on this.

The book is extremely well done and interesting, as customary for these VU super deluxe edition.
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VINE VOICEon August 11, 2005
Revered or dispised by fans, I'm one of those who finds "Loaded" to be one of the masterpieces of its generation. Granted, Lou Reed abandoned all the things that made the old Velvet Underground what it was, but this is a good straightahead rock record, full of fantastic songwriting, sarcasm, and brilliance.

So what makes "Loaded" so good? Stunning songwriting ably supported by sympathetic musicians. Reed, at the height of his powers as a rock and roll composer pulled off at least two classic songs that have worked their way into the collective unconsciousness in "Sweet Jane" and "Rock and Roll". These two pieces have been imitated so heavily and fiercely that they sound familiar the first time you hear them, and both of them have a little something, quite undefinable (Reed claims in the case of "Sweet Jane" that it's the extra chord that quickly sweeps by in the progression, I think it's an unnerving amount of passion in the vocal presonally) that makes them perfect.

The rest of the album doesn't quite live up to them, but it's full of superb songs, from the Beatlesque "Who Loves the Sun" to the sarcastic "New Age" and "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" to the the explosive "Held Held High" and the churning "Train Round the Bend". There are no real low points on the record, it's in fact all quite good. Highly recommended.
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on November 2, 2015
If you're going to squeeze the Velvets completist out of his or her hard earned cash one last time, at least give them something new, and make the box a complete collection of everything relevant to the album and its making. This expensive deluxe edition is missing several cuts from the Live at Max's concert, Lou's final performance with the band as recorded by Brigid Polk. It contains zero selections from the incredible rehearsal tape recorded by Danny Fields in late June, just prior to the beginning of the Max's engagement. Instead, we get a horribly sounding recording of a drumerless three man version of the Velvets playing in May '70 at the Second Fret in Philly. Look, I love everything these people did but they without either Moe or Billy, they don't even sound like a band here. They sound like 3/4's of band rehearsing without a drummer. And the sound quality, again, is terrible.

Finally, the two biggest omissions.

First, how about somewhere among the six CD's releasing THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THE ALBUM? The only version that anyone heard before 1995, before the misbegotten attempts to restore the "Heavenly wine and roses" part of Sweet Jane and add extra choruses to New Age by horribly splicing on a different take. Yuck! These were parts, by the way, that Doug, Sesnick and LOU REED HIMSELF had wisely edited off the album before Lou's departure.

Second, if for no other reason than to provide a piece of history of the band, why couldn't they have released the two cuts which the post-Lou band (Sterling, Moe, Doug and Walter Powers) recorded for Atlantic in November 1970? "Friends" and "She'll Make You Cry." C'mon, Lou leaving and Doug attempting to assume leadership is part of the history of the band, and OF THIS ALBUM PROJECT IN PARTICULAR. Let us hear what they were trying to do, for better or worse!

This box set is a terrible ripoff, with nothing to recommend.
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on May 25, 2004
This album has the inexplicable experience of being labeled a flop by VU-philes. The main reason I can imagine is that it diverted from the typical progressive-alternative-punk genre that had been laid down in the previous three albums.
But I can't see blaming it all on Doug Yule. Yes, my loyalties lie with John Cale, but no one lambasts "The Velvet Underground" (3rd album, 1st with Yule) as being a flop.
Back on track, this is a good album, and it is filled with some catchy songs that are somewhat upbeat. The most notable Reed creations are "Sweet Jane" and "Rock 'N' Roll", which are presented on the album....Sweet Jane in it's full (and only satisfactory) form.
Those who have watched "High Fidelity" or listened to its soundtrack will recognize "Who Loves The Sun" and "Oh, Sweet Nuthin!", and both are good songs. "Who Loves The Sun" is a giddly little tune, but is surprisingly catchy. The latter is a good "sad" song (it was used as such in the film), and has a good solo on Sterling's part towards the end.
Some say the middle songs on the album are "filler", and at a first listen, they may seem so. But after listening more and more, you will, in a way that only Lou Reed's songs can, be drawn into them. "New Age" has grown on me, as well as "Lonesome Cowboy Bill".
But the most impressive "filler" track has to be "I've Found A Reason". Patterned after the old '50's rythym and blues songs, it is deceptively harmonic, soothing, yet rocking at the same time, and features great writing, both harmonically and lyrically, on Reed's part.
So, it doesn't deserve it's "crap" rating many give it. But, which version to buy?
To me, there's not a question. For a little more money (6 bucks at most), "Fully Loaded" gives you a ton of extra songs that are surprisingly substantiative to the album itself. To be fair, some of the tracks are demos, that either a. sound weird, or b. don't sound TOO much different, but there are some songs that never made it on the record at all. Many ended up becoming solo Reed tracks later on, but hearing them in their original song formats are great.
Notables: "Ocean" is presented in a few varying forms on this album, which, in my opinion, is a suspenseful song, and keeps its charm well in these outtakes. But the other highlight is "I'm Sticking With You", led on vocals by drummer Maureen Tucker (YES, she does appear, but ONLY on "Fully Loaded). This version, unlike the one released on one of the "lost MGM albums" ("Another View" or "VU"), has an excellent acoustic guitar backing that gives it almost a folk feel, which suits the song better than the other (and more known) lounge-style accompianment.
All in all:
1. "Loaded" was and is a viable album
2. Buy "Fully Loaded", if considering buying "Loaded" to begin with.
The "Fully Loaded" variant is filled out with the extra tracks, and also allows you to compile some demo tracks without having to buy the boxed set.
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on September 4, 2004
The Velvet Underground - Loaded (1970)

This brilliant album is my least favorite from this remarkable band, but only through default since I love nearly all of their music. Despite the obvious drug reference of the title, it was supposedly meant to mean "loaded with hits." In a better, more just world, it would've been a worldwide smash.

Lou Reed was nearing the end of his tether and drummer Mo Tucker was on maternity leave which explains the largely conventional drumming found on LOADED by various replacement drummers including Billy Yule, kid brother of bassist Doug Yule who at this point was beginning to suffer delusions of grandeur. Though occasionally melancholy, LOADED sounds bright and positive, which is ironic when you consider that the band's demise was just around the corner.

The breakdown:

"Who Loves the Sun" - Very chipper despite its melancholy lyrics from the brokenhearted but sweetly singing Doug Yule. A strong 60's style flair reminiscent of the Beatles and especially the Beach Boys' vocal stylings. Crisp guitar, excellent piano accents. ****1/2

"Sweet Jane" - The song begins with a sickly-sweet psychedelic kalaidescope of notes before Velvet mastermind Lou Reed launches into one of the most legendary rock n' roll riffs ever. (Note: avoid old releases containing truncated edits of this song from clueless record company personnel) *****

"Rock N' Roll" - Another belatedly popular classic. The playing and chord changes generate a terrific undercurrent of feel-good excitement. *****

"Cool It Down" - An ambling country-fried tune. The chorus doesn't appear 'til the end of the song, followed by a boogie-woogie-ish piano. Simple, stately and quite effective piano can in fact be heard all over LOADED played by both Reed and Yule. ***1/2

"New Age" - Like its predecessor, This gorgeous song also builds to a climax. It's about the brave new world we all need to create for ourselves from time to time. *****

"Head Held High" - Lou really belts out the vocals on this groovy rocker (parts of which, I'm convinced, were repeatedly ripped off for TV shows in the 70's). ****1/2

"Lonesome Cowboy Bill" - This heavily country-flavored rocker has amusingly hick-ish vocals from Reed. Having grown up in Texas, I have long rebelled against country music even though a few classics of the non-whimpy-male-singer variety ("If You Wanna Play in Texas," "Devil Went Down to Georgia," etc.) still hold fond memories. So "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" isn't really my tea, but it's undeniably spirited and very well played. ****1/2

"I Found a Reason" - A dreamy slow dance number with more sweet vocal harmonies. I love Lou's slightly hammy monologue in the middle. Yet another song embellished with thoughtful musical flourishes. *****

"Train Round the Bend" - A killer groove machine with a nasty laid-back string attack from ace guitarist Sterling Morrison. ****1/2

"Oh! Sweet Nothin'" - A gorgeous, classic album closer. In the same vein as another great album closer, the Stone's "Salt of the Earth," this song is a tribute to the less fortunate who walk among us. *****

An aside: Around this time, VU recorded a number of versions of a song called "Ride Into the Sun." I recently rediscovered a version that I had overlooked from an old Australian box set called WHAT GOES ON. I rarely get it out since I got the PEEL SLOWLY AND SEE box set and I'm sure it's long out of print (probably for legal reasons). According to the liner notes, the song was taken from a French Polydor 5 CD box set released in June 1990 called simply VELVET UNDERGROUND. Unlike the PEEL SLOWLY AND SEE version featuring Doug Yule on vocals, Lou takes the lead. This version is more ornate with mandolin-style guitar picking. A beauty although the sound quality has deteriorated in places and I slightly prefer the version with Yule singing.
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on August 24, 2005
Time has proven that The Velvet Underground's "Loaded" is a truly great album. When it was released it was slapped together as the band was disbanding. The VU purist may say that this album is poor but if you are a fan of great rock and roll this is an album for you. Sure the album isn't as edgy and experimental musically or lyrically as earlier works. Albums Like "White Light White Heat" are certainly more artistically bold but boldness doesn't necessarily equate to greatness. This album would successful if released today and seeing that this one is over 30 years old it has the words classic written all over it.

Already losing John Cale, the album is almost entirely Lou Reed Driven. The music on the album reflects this and Reed's songwriting really shines with greats like "Rock and Roll", "Sweet Jane" and "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" (well all of the tracks are great). The sound is fun and the songs may not be serious deep or explorative but they are pure rock and totally unforgettable. These are tunes that are easy to enjoy and get under your skin into your head and beg to be played and replayed. "Loaded" is chock full of great hits and if you are looking for fun music this is a great album. Stylistically, this album may not be the best introduction to VU but it is a fun first step or just a great album for your collection.

Ted Murena
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Some people felt that when John Cale left it wasn't The Velvet Underground any longer. Some folks feel this is VU light. Folks are complaining about the lack of inclusion of certain materials (including the single recorded after Lou left and while Sterling, Mo and Doug wee still trying to function as a band).

I'm not one of them.

I'm going to review what we've got not what we didn't get.

"Loaded" remains a high point one of Lou's best albums as a songwriter and the VU as a band. By the time this was recorded, the VU had changed--Lou wanted to make an album that went in a different direction.

This remaster/expanded edition of a classic album includes a mono mix (which was only issued as a promotional release) of the original album. We also get the outtakes and alternate versions of tracks from "Loaded" . These tracks were largely released on the previous two disc version of the album.

The fourth disc is "Live at Max's Kansas City" had been a long time release on CD but is remastered here.

The fifth disc is "Live at Second Fret, Philadelpha, 1970" none of the tracks here have been previously released.

The sixth disc includes a 5.1 surround remix, a stereo downmix of the same tracks and finally the original album in high resolution stereo.

All of these are presented in a large format book with pictures and an essay discussing the album (roughly the same size as the Allman Brothers 12 CD expanded Live at The Fillmore but smaller than the "The Velvet Underground and Nico", "VU" releases).

This is an excellent reissue. Are there things that could have been included but weren't? Yes but we don't know WHY some of these were released as part of this set. There could have been contractual issues for the single and rehearsal tapes.
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on January 10, 2007
I consider myself a hardcore Velvet Underground fan, and I absolutely love this album. In fact, I am going to blaspheme and admit that I prefer it not only to the eponymous third album, but also the band's legendary debut (GASP!). I realize Velvet Underground and Nico is one of the most influential albums of all time, and I listen to it a lot, but I like many of the songs on Loaded better. (I don't think anything else the band did can touch the raw glory of White Light/White Heat).

Velvet Underground fans often complain that this album is less edgy and groundbreaking than their other three efforts. I agree with this claim completely, and I think Loaded is the only album the band released that really sounds like a product of its era. At the same time, I think 1969-1970 was an incredibly inspired time for music, so fitting into this era is a good thing. 1969 and 1970 witnessed a shift in the rock world away from psychedelia toward country and folk sensibilities. 1969 saw The Band release their second album, the Stones release the country-tinged Let It Bleed, and Dylan release the pure-country Nashville Skyline. 1970 featured Zeppelin's shift to folk with their third album. Even the true champions of psychedelia, the Grateful Dead, released the folk rock classics Workingman's Dead and American Beauty in 1970. Loaded stands up well amid these albums.

I also think I like this album because I typically listen to classic rock rather than the alternative rock many Velvet Underground fans prefer. Along with the Velvet Underground, I would say the Rolling Stones and pre-'75 Grateful Dead are my favorite bands. "Sweet Jane" and "Rock and Roll" are two of the greatest classic rock songs ever. "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" is almost as great, and the rest of the songs are better than filler to my ears (I love "Cool It Down," contrary to many of the other reviewers). And while the album lacks the alternative sound, some of the lyrics still hint at Lou Reed's cynicism ("Who Loves the Sun", "Train Round the Bend").

There is no doubt in my mind that Loaded is far more accessible than the other three Velvet Undergound albums. It is the one recording by the band that I think could appeal to many casual listeners. People can quibble over whether this really is the Velvet Underground because of all the personnel changes, but that just draws attention away from the great music you will find here. The extra tracks are a nice touch and worth the extra money, though not essential to most folks. Still, any fan of the Velvet Underground (especially Lou Reed) or classic rock should check this album out.
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