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White Light/White Heat Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, May 7, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

The proto-punk rock revolution that VU sparked reached its pinnacle right here. Feedback frenzies and narcotic odes abound as you behold Here She Comes Now; I Heard Her Call My Name ; the title cut; the mind-blowing epic Sister Ray , and more!
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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8:19
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 7, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Polydor
  • ASIN: B000002G7E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,001 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Scott Bresinger on June 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Okay, so many years ago, I can't remember the exact year, but I was a teenager so it seems like a few billion, I was visiting a friend of mine in upstate New York. This friend was schizophrenic, although at the time I knew little about such things; I only knew he was freakin' out of his mind. (apologies to mental health and disabilities rights advocates, whom I think do good and valuable work, but this guy was loopy!) At the time, my musical obsessions were the Beatles and Pink Floyd, and I loathed anything having to do with "heavy" or otherwise abrasive sounds. This friend, who was afraid to approach a mailbox because he thought they were government spying devices, had a somewhat different take. First he played for me the Sex Pistols, a group that I had never heard of. I thought it sounded like two wolverines tied up inside a burlap sack being smashed against large rocks. I hated it. (of course, later on I would end up loving the thing for exactly the reason I just noted) Undeterred, and dare I say a little emboldened by offending my sensibilities so thoroughly, he got out a worn copy of the Velvet Underground's second album, "White Light/White Heat" and slapped it on the turntable. (hey, I said it was a long time ago) I have never been the same ever since.

The opening title track to me sounded like an old Jerry Lee Lewis song being ripped to shreds by the aforementioned wolverines. Right away, I was, to put it mildly, skeptical. I believe my exact comments were "put this &%#@!!! away and let me play you side one of "Wish You Were Here" already" He didn't budge. Next came "The Gift" which was John Cale reciting a short story by Lou Reed over a stormy sea of guitars and Maureen Tucker's primal drumming.
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By A Customer on May 25, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Once you tame this wild, noisy, amphetamine-fueled, out-of-control beast of an album, it will be your best friend for a lifetime. Few albums are as off-putting on initial hearing; fewer still will reward you more after hundreds of spins. Inexplicably, its chaos, noise, and howling confusion will become comforting. But it takes awhile...
For example, I doubt anyone ever thought they'd play side two (for those who remember vinyl) a second time after weathering the "I Heard Her Call My Name"/"Sister Ray" barrage...but if you can brave Lou Reed's paint-stripping lead guitar and John Cale's shrieking organ a second and then third time, slowly the initial repulsion will turn to compulsion. And the mysteries will unfold...20 or 30 years later, you'll still be trying to figure out "Lady Godiva's Operation" or "Sister Ray"...or at least basking in their glorious noise.
Songwise, it's not the best music the Velvets, Reed, or Cale ever made, but it's probably the most influential--would Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Jesus & Mary Chain, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine, the lo-fi movement, etc., ever have happened without it?
"White Light/White Heat" is the sound of smart, cool, frustrated, and heavily amped (in all senses of the word) people coming apart and making as loud a noise as possible while they still could. And it's timeless because to this day it still irritates and scares people even after we've all been numbed by decades of hardcore, shock rock, and death metal.
Finally--the louder you play it, the clearer it gets. Volume is the key to this swamp creature of an album emerging from the murk...and the creature wants to be your friend despite its initially scary face.
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Format: Audio CD
Having been a precocious kid I had the distinct pleasure (yes, I said pleasure) of seeing this band at the original Tea Party in the South End of Boston shortly after the release of "White Light/White Heat". Moe Tucker was still playing her drums standing like a mad majorette. Cale's electric voila was so loud plaster dust fell from the ceiling, literally.

With all the peace and love nonsense cluttering what little media was free enough to experiment this album cut like a knife through to the truth of what city life was really about.

When my sons asked me if I was a hippie I gave them the first MC5 and Stooges' albums - and "White Light/White Heat". They now play in a Punk band. I'm glad they got the point...
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Format: Audio CD
"approach with caution"?? Ha! Approach with caution my... Approach this record with wild, reckless abandon and nothing less. Tear open the cellophane wrapping with a large sheet metal cutter, throw it in the cd player and rotate the volume knob clockwise. You have just purchased a rock n roll masterpiece, and by God you need to share it with your neighbors. Let them experience the crunchy guitars crashing over the drowning piano in the title track, take them to the apartment where Waldo Jeffers meets his untimely demise inside a shipping container, and let them experience the nightmare of Lady Godiva and her operation. Tempt them with the haunting beauty of Here She Comes Now just to set them up for the frantic I Heard Her Call My Name. And just when they think that their neighbor has completely flipped and that it can't possibly get any crazier, finish them with the incindiary Sister Ray. When it's finished, you're sure to be tops on everyone's Christmas card list come December.
This album is not background music. This isn't cuddle with your girlfriend music, or sing your toddler to sleep music. If you're looking for mellow, skip this album and buy something safe. This album is like an armed robbery. Give it all your attention and hopefully no one will get hurt. If youre looking for an album so obnoxiously loud and demanding that you're scared to give it anything less than what it wants, buy it. If you're not afraid of music that challenges you on all possible fronts, you have found an album that will keep you coming back for years. It will also clear your house of any lingering guests after Thanksgiving dinner to boot.
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