The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat is one of the most confrontational and inspirational second albums ever made by a rock band. Recorded in a matter of days at the end of the summer of 1967, a season in which everything seemed possible in rock and much of it happened at now-mythic speed, White Light/White Heat is an album that reeks of gritty NY street life and which could only have been made in New York, by one band. And that group is the classic-quartet lineup of The Velvet Underground – singer-guitarist Lou Reed; bassist-organist and viola player John Cale; guitarist-bassist Sterling Morrison; and drummer Maureen Tucker.
“Cited by nearly every group in punk’s long lineage and by more than a few arty types, the Velvets defined New York rock, poised between street-level grit and literary irony, rock simplicity and minimalistic drones, clarity and noise.”– The New York Times
On December 2nd, 2013, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) will release The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, a three-disc, 30-track set featuring both the original stereo and mono releases, completely remastered, with bonus tracks including alternate versions, unreleased outtakes, John Cale’s last studio sessions with the band, and the official release of their show at The Gymnasium in New York recorded on April 30, 1967, which includes five previously unreleased performances culled from John Cale’s personal copy. The 45th anniversary set was developed in conjunction with Lou Reed and John Cale:
Originally released by Verve Records on January 30, 1968, the LP cracked Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart on March 16, entering at No. 199. Forty-five years later, The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat is considered one of the most influential albums of all time, laying down the blue print for punk and experimental rock, critically acclaimed and included on many “Top Lists” including Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time and on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Artists List.
Disc one of The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition starts with the original six-song stereo version of White Light/White Heat, with the album’s title track plunging head first into 40 minutes of unprecedented, transgressive rock storytelling, propelled by epic distortion, lacerating guitar drone and severe, rhythmic purism – “the Statue of Liberty of punk,” Lou Reed contends, “with the light on top. It’s beyond unique and wonderful. No other group can touch what that is. You can’t try to be that.”
Other tracks include the airy yearning of “Here She Comes Now,” one of the Velvets’ finest ballads which gives the listener a two-minute breather with its “almost” serene beauty before being launched back in; the upbeat, hard-hitting proto-punk track “I Heard Her Call My Name,” punctuated with Reed’s biting guitar soloing, intertwined with a wall of distortion and feedback; the experimental sung and spoken noir of “Lady Godiva’s Operation” and “The Gift”; climaxing with the propulsive, distorted eternity of sexual candour and twilight drug life, rendered dry and real in Reed’s lethal monotone, in the 17-minute-plus “Sister Ray.” Bonus tracks include an alternate take of “I Heard Her Call My Name”; the instrumental version of “Guess I’m Falling In Love,” recorded during the White Light/White Heat sessions but left unfinished; plus the original mixes of tracks “Temptation Inside Your Head” and “Stephanie Says”; two different recordings of “Hey Mr. Rain”; and a previously unreleased early version of “Beginning To See The Light” recorded during John Cale’s last studio session with the Velvet Underground in May of 1968.
Disc two contains the original mono version of White Light/White Heat plus mono single mixes of “Here She Comes Now” and “White Light/White Heat,” as well as an instrumental and a vocal version of “The Gift,” both of which had been unreleased. The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition also includes a third disc featuring the official release of the revelatory Gymnasium tape, recorded live during the Velvets’ residency at a short-lived New York club in April 1967, five months before the White Light/White Heat sessions. This show was previously only available on bootlegs and includes the complete version of the instrumental “Booker T.,” plus the tracks “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore,” “I’m Waiting For The Man,” “Run Run Run” and a version of “Sister Ray” that clocks in just under 19 minutes. Many have tried. Some have come close. More will try again, in the wake of this definitive reissue, The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition. Initial pre-orders of the Super Deluxe Box Set on the Boxset Store will received a limited edition white flexi disc featuring “Booker T – Live at the Gymnasium NYC. Limited to availability whilst stocks last.
*New 2013 mixes of “Guess I’m Falling In Love,” “Hey Mr. Rain (version one), “Hey Mr. Rain (version two), “Beginning To See The Light” (also a previously unreleased early version)
*Unreleased versions of “The Gift” (vocal version) and “The Gift” (instrumental version)
*Never-before-heard tracks from Live At The Gymnasium, New York City, April 30, 1967– “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore,” “I’m Waiting For The Man,” “Run Run Run,” “Sister Ray,” and “The Gift”
*New liner notes from David Fricke
1 WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 2 THE GIFT 3 LADY GODIVA’S OPERATION 4 HERE SHE COMES NOW 5 I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME 6 SISTER RAY 7 I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME (alternate take) 8 GUESS I’M FALLING IN LOVE (instrumental version) * 9 TEMPTATION INSIDE YOUR HEART (original mix) 10 STEPHANIE SAYS (original mix) 11 HEY MR. RAIN (VERSION ONE) * 12 HEY MR. RAIN (VERSION TWO) * 13 BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT (previously unreleased early version) *
* New mixes
DISC TWO: WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT (mono version)
1 WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 2 THE GIFT 3 LADY GODIVA’S OPERATION 4 HERE SHE COMES NOW 5 I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME 6 SISTER RAY 7 WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT (mono single mix) 8 HERE SHE COMES NOW (mono single mix) 9 THE GIFT (vocal version) 10 THE GIFT (instrumental version)
DISC THREE: LIVE AT THE GYMNASIUM, NEW YORK CITY, APRIL 30, 1967
1 BOOKER T. 2 I’M NOT A YOUNG MAN ANYMORE* 3 GUESS I’M FALLING IN LOVE 4 I’M WAITING FOR THE MAN* 5 RUN RUN RUN* 6 SISTER RAY* 7 THE GIFT*
* Previously unreleased