Essential Atlantic: The Velvet Underground, LOADED

Thursday, August 6, 2020
The Velvet Underground LOADED Cover

For the next several weeks (or maybe just until we decide that we want to stop doing it, since normalcy seems likely to remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future), will be spotlighting an album from the Atlantic Records discography that qualifies as “Essential.” And what rigorous standards and/or mathematical algorithm did we use to come up with the criteria to define “Essential,” you ask? None at all. You’ll just have to trust our instincts. But they’re really good, we swear...

It may seem odd to include an album in a list of a label’s “Essential” albums when the album in question didn’t even manage to chart on the Billboard 200, but sales figures have never been a defining reason for an album’s essentiality, and the fact of the matter is that the Velvet Underground’s fourth studio LP is at least as strong as the band’s debut album (THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO), and some would argue that it’s even stronger.

We’re not going to take sides on that battle, though. We’re just going to tell you about LOADED.

Recorded – appropriately enough – at Atlantic Studios, LOADED got its title as a result of the label telling the band that they wanted the V.U. to deliver an album that was “loaded with hits.” Indeed, singer/bassist Doug Yule once said of the album. “There was that mentality, ‘which one of these is a single, how does it sound when we cut it down to 3.5 minutes,’ so that was a major topic for the group at that point.”

Lou Reed, who left the Velvet Underground before LOADED was released, was not happy with the final mix, nor was he quiet about his dissatisfaction. (Shocking, we know...) Sterling Morrison, meanwhile, wasn’t exactly pleased about the fact that the album was light on Lou and heavy on Yule, but he did concede that “the album came out okay.” Most critics, however, received the album rapturously, thanks to songs like “Who Loves the Sun,” “Sweet Jane,” and “Rock and Roll.” Again, it’s not like it made any difference in terms of the album’s commercial success, but it’s definitely helped to raise the LP’s status over the decades.

In fact, Rhino actually released a 5-CD / 1-DVD set to commemorate the album’s 45th anniversary, so if you’ve never owned a copy, make no mistake, that’s the one to get!


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