Album Notes - The Velvet Underground - Loaded
50 years ago, on November 15, 1970, a now revered album from a now legendary band was released to zero fanfare, exemplified by the fact that it couldn't even crack the Billboard 200. This fell in line with the group's previous three records, the highest of which charted at 171. Yet, with Loaded, the Velvet Underground created a masterpiece that stood in stark contrast to their first two efforts, and was only hinted at on its 1969 predecessor.
Led by legendary asshole Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground had previously been defined as experimental and avant-garde, albeit within the "rock" framework. Loaded was an intentional refinement in hope of scoring radio hits. Everyone knows "Sweet Jane," and while "Rock & Roll" might ring familiar, the other eight songs are worthy of your ears' attention, despite never reaching mainstream airwaves.
Loaded is unique in the Velvet Underground's career, and listeners are now afforded the generosity of hindsight: how plainly clear it is to hear what influenced it and what was influenced by it. The former (Dylan, Beatles, Stones) is more obvious. The latter (Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, R.E.M.) perhaps less so, but the fact that members of those renowned bands pay homage, whether verbally or musically, speaks volumes to the imprint left by Reed and his New York cohorts. For a group that sold so few records, half a century later, their sound reverberates as loud as ever.