Album Spotlight of the Week: Loaded

1970’s “Loaded” by The Velvet Underground represents some firsts and some lasts as it pertains to the band, but the things that give it permanence, those things that I talk about all of the time when it comes to an album, are the things that I would like to focus on. 

“Loaded” was Lou Reed’s last album with VU, and it was the most commercially viable album they had produced and, in fact, by the time it hit the record stores, Reed had already left the band.  It is likely that the circumstances that lead to Reed’s departure may be what make this an album so charged with emotion.

This album works because, rather than being linear and tangentral in its approach, it moves easily between styles and moods and creates such a well-rounded and satisfying album experience.  This one listens like a good story reads with a definite beginning and end and complete with some twists and turns in the middle.

I also appreciate Reed’s approach to the actual writing of the songs as well, and know from my own studies how much his work resembles and mirrors that of the 20th century Modernist poets such as e. e. cummings and William Carlos Williams among others.  Their approach to poetry was to cast-off the old Victorian abstract concepts such as love and replace them with concrete images, often in their less-than-ideal forms.  Their argument was that abstract concepts come loaded with un-conveyable notions that only the writer is privy to and that, by providing concrete or  “crunchy” images, it would allow the reader to have his or her own experience without trying to relive someone else’s or to attempt to see it through their eyes.  For a good, textbook example of 20th century Modernist Imagism, read Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”, or my personal favorite, William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow”.

How do go from the 20th century Moderns to Lou Reed and, more importantly “Loaded”?  Well, Reed similarly was working to break out of the conventional pop-music mold to create something concrete, raw and different, but for me, the real acheivement was that he was able to accomplish what he wanted while still working to create something approachable – It is the difference between being on the cutting edge and going over it altogether.

It is this simple, raw set of recordings that has influenced many musicians through the years and arguably sewed the seeds of punk music in the 70’s and 80’s and the alternative scene that developed afterward.  It represented a departure from contemporary recordings and showed a clear shift not only in its approach to the music but to the subject itself.

“Loaded” is many things, but it is certainly not a recording that you listen to once and put back on the shelf – it is a recording that has much to offer and one that gets better every time you listen to it.  If you don’t have it, get it, and keep it in the rotation.  Enjoy.

Proving once again that we do more than just show you the best deals in the Phoenix real estate market; we show you how to get the most out of living in Arizona, and try to help you get the most out of what you are listening to.


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