Oct 082008

The heat is on!

I hope none of us had unrealistic expectations for Day 1 of our Velvet Intervention. Townsman Hrrundivbakshi deserves Mad Props for hearing us out and responding in detail and with passion. It’s hard to be confronted by one’s peers and asked to come clean with veiled and long-harbored disdain for a band that’s not only critically acclaimed band but that’s at the juncture of one of Rock’s most significant points in the ongoing development of Cool. As you give your fellow Townsperson a piece of your mind, I want you to pause for a moment and consider how you’d feel in this trusting situation, surrounded by friends and fellow deep thinkers, all the while knowing the Cool Patrol is circling on the periphery of our more thoughtful, considerate dialog.

Today we’ll ask Hrrundi to share his thoughts on 3 songs from The Velvet Underground’s second album, White Light/White Heat. Even for fans of the VU, unless you only got into them to piss off your square parents and live vicariously through the band’s “F-U” factor, this is usually the challenging one. For starters, there’s no Teutonic Ice Goddess for shy college boys to fantasize over and/or project onto. Then, if the production of the first album was typically shoddy, this one sounds real bad. No one’s testing out hi-fi equipment with this album. Finally, the album has almost no diversity, and the second side is hogged by a 17-minute-plus middle finger of a noisefest jam, the legendary but not always listenable “Sister Ray”.

Overh the course of this album, much of which I have not included for today’s session, this might be the point at which Cale’s grating side outdoes Hrrundi’s appreciation for the Welshman’s formalist leanings. We’ll see. I do think that, beyond predictable laments over two of these songs, Hrrundi will be challenged to push further into his own psyche and share with us points of view that we’ll find more enlightening than we witnessed on Day 1. I’m pretty sure he’s going to have a much less stressful day today, as he develops trust with the group. Let’s let the man himself take some time to assess and comment on these tracks!

“Lady Godiva’s Operation”

“Here She Comes Now”

“I Heard Her Call My Name”


  18 Responses to “Velvet Intervention: Day 2”

  1. Here She Comes Now is my favorite sounding Velvets recording, hands down. The weird reverb vibe and laid back, out of synch groove is just beautiful. It sounds too fine to be an accident, but too random to be anything but.

  2. I haven’t been following the previous discussion as I haven’t visited the site in a while, but I’m genuinely curious why you regard White Light, White Heat as not a diverse-sounding album? What about “The Gift”, for starters?

    FWIW, I love this album and I think that the FU factor is a valid factor, even in one’s adulthood. I’m not arguing that it should be the sole reason one likes this record as I think it has many great things about it. If anything, I agree with you that Loaded is by far my least favorite Velvets album. Half of it is brilliant, but it’s got a lot of filler. I know we’ve been through that one a billion times, too, but I agree that all those “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” type songs really drag that record down.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    Berlyant, “The Gift”, “Lady Godiva’s Operation”, “Here She Comes Now”, and “Sister Ray” are all variations on Them’s “Gloria”. The fact that Cale recites a short story over one doesn’t make it that different. Where’s the “Sunday Morning”? Where’s the “Murder Mystery”? Where’s the “Sweet Sally Lou”? I like this album a lot, but it’s the template for bands like Clinic, which have put out about 5 albums of the same exact song. In terms of Clinic, it helps that I like that one song they play over and over.

  4. Mr. Moderator

    Oh, and we agree on the rest of what you’ve written.

  5. Berlyant, “The Gift”, “Lady Godiva’s Operation”, “Here She Comes Now”, and “Sister Ray” are all variations on Them’s “Gloria”. The fact that Cale recites a short story over one doesn’t make it that different.

    Actually it does. I’d like to see Van Morrison write a song about a guy who mails himself to his girlfriend and cuts get in half. I mean, on one hand you claim to want substance and deride Chuck Berry or The Ramones (and probably, by extension, groups like AC/DC, Motorhead and hey Clinic who incidentally all make or made very similar sounding records throughout the course of their careers) and you claim that one of the reasons you like VU is their substance, so why not give credit where it’s due here?

    Besides, I never thought of them as being derivative of “Gloria” (although it’s certainly possible) and I much prefer Patti Smith’s version anyway. Either way, the important thing is that it’s a much more interesting variation on that garage rock template.

    Where’s the “Sunday Morning”?

    On The Velvet Undeground & Nico

    Where’s the “Murder Mystery”?

    On the self-titled 3rd album. Am I the only who finds this song a needle-lifter, BTW? I kinda feel the same way about “After Hours”, FWIW.

    Where’s the “Sweet Sally Lou”?

    OK sorry for the sarcastic answers above, but seriously one of WLWH’s advantages is the lack of “Sweet Sally Lou” songs. I find VU much more interesting when they’re frankly, decadent or noisy or both.

    Here are my Top 7 VU songs:
    1) “Pale Blue Eyes” (sorry hrrundi)
    2) “Jesus”
    3) “Oh Sweet Nothin'”
    4) “All Tomorrow’s Parties”
    5) “Beginning to See the Light”
    6) “Venus in Furs”
    7) “I’m Waiting for the Man”/”Sister Ray”/”Heroin” (tie)

    An honorable mention should go to “I’m Sticking with You” as well.

    I like this album a lot, but it’s the template for bands like Clinic, which have put out about 5 albums of the same exact song. In terms of Clinic, it helps that I like that one song they play over and over.

    Agreed, but I only really listen to the 1st 2 and rarely at that, though I loved Walking with Thee when it came out.

    Oh and BTW how about “The KKK Took My Baby Away” (about Johnny stealing Joey’s girlfriend) or “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg (My Brain is Hanging Upside Down)” for substance and heart in the Ramones catalog.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    Day 2 passed without comment from Hrrundi. I’m concerned. He was seen commenting in other threads last night, right?

  7. hrrundivbakshi

    Sorry, Mod — I would’ve listened and commented, but I was too busy enjoying the “pretty” sounds of the Residents at the 9:30 Club last night. The show, while good, called to mind a few issues I’ve been talking about in this important series of VU-related posts.

    Good to see so many RTH “Chess” members taking the plunge over here at RTH “Mercury.” I have no problem setting myself up as bait to bring their massive brain power to the Hall.

    But speaking of RTH Chess partisans:



  8. Mr. Moderator

    No problem, HVB. Glad to hear you used your time for such an interesting pursuit. I’ll hold off on presenting you with Day 3 of the Velvet Intervention until we’ve had a chance to get through Day 2.

  9. The guy has been asked to explain his VU take and is talking about puffins.

  10. hrrundivbakshi





    Hello, all.

    Just wanted to thank you for tossing me this softball, Moddie. The fact is, the songs on “White Light/White Heat” — with the exception of the colossal pretension that is “Sister Ray,” and the pretty forgettable title track — are some of my favorites from the Velvet Underground canon.

    I have greatly enjoyed “Lady Godiva’s Operation” ever since I first heard it about a year ago. There’s a real groove happening, for once. The detuned guitar riff is compelling, Mo Tucker keeps things pinned down with a surprisingly sinous beat, and Cale’s faggy British professor act — even, or perhaps especially, when Lou Reed busts in — rounds things out quite nicely. Clever, sure, but also groovy. Which most VU music is NOT.

    “Here She Comes Now” is one of the few Lou Reed numbers where Lou doesn’t completely squander his songwriting talents in an orgy of idiotic half-assed-ism. And it’s brilliant. I wonder how much of its wonderfulness is the result of Cale’s arranging? Those guitar figures sound too clever for ham-fisted Lou. Geo’s right about the *sound* of the thing, too. This kind of production is timeless, and worthy of appropriation and evolution. I can’t say the same about much of this band’s output.

    The third number you chose, “I Heard Her Call My Name,” is a bit sillier than the first two, but I get a momentary kick out of the squealing Lou Reed. There’s an immature speed-freak charm to the sound of his dry-humping the mic stand that appeals to me somewhat. Plus, those Monkees-like backup vocals manage to pin the thing down enough that his guitar freakout works as counterpoint.

    Thanks for not making me listen to the two real clunkers on that album, and sorry if I haven’t contributed enough drama to the goings-on around here today.

    Your pal,


  11. Bakshi, you took your time about it, but you’ve really brought the noise here. My hat’s off to you.

  12. BigSteve

    Several times in recent months people here have thrown around variations on the f word (i.e., fag, faggy, etc.). I haven’t been calling people on it, but I’d appreciate it if everyone would chill out on this front. Thank you for your time.

  13. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, BigSteve — sorry I had to be the straw that broke the camel’s back on this “F” word thing. I wasn’t sure about using it, though I did hope you’d know I meant it to mean flouncy, bow-tied, professorial, like a caricature. Which is probably at the root of the problem here. Anyhow, I’m sorry.

  14. BigSteve

    No problem. I don’t find Cale’s voice especially flouncy, but it’s sort of like that joke — “Is that guy gay of just British?” Or Welsh specifically.

    The whole issue of what constitutes masculinity and its relationship to sexual preference is probably too thorny to get into here. Unless anyone wants to get into lyrical analysis of Sister Ray and what exactly is meant by “too busy sucking on a ding dong.”

    I know this is backstory, but according to Victor Bockris’ biography Reed claims to have intentionally sissified himself, his walk and his speaking voice, in late adolescence as a way of cultivating an outsider stance he thought he needed as an artist. I guess he’s in recovery from all that now.

  15. Mr. Moderator

    I sense a wealth of healing ahead for us all, but there’s still work to be done. Thanks, Hrrundi, BigSteve, Mwall, et al.

    I was thinking about the lines that Reed breaks in on in “Lady Godiva’s Operation”. Is this the first example of that thing rappers do, when one guy stops crossing his arms and looking tough to butt in for a couple of words in the middle of the main rapper’s rap?

  16. BigSteve

    I think that’s supposed to be the musical equivalent of Burroughsian cut-ups or fold-ins. But doesn’t it seem like Lou is not really cooperating, like he’s undermining the tone of the song?

    It also reminds me of the way the recorded conversations cut in to the music off and on through the song Kicks from Coney Island Baby.

  17. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, Velv and mockcarr: how do you two pop purists feel about the Velvet Underground?

  18. mockcarr

    I’m for ’em. I like the claustrophobic production, distortion, and raspy viola. Reed’s got to partially talk his way through as Dylan does to get his little points across, so melodically you occasionally need to fill in some blanks in your ears, but they’re capable of plenty of catchiness. Sometimes it’s TOO repetitive, but I get over it.

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube