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Released: March 31, 1969

Rating: 4.560 (average of 20 ratings)

Genre: rock > proto punk

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. Candy Says [4:04]
  2. What Goes On [4:55]
  3. Some Kinda Love [4:03]
  4. Pale Blue Eyes [5:41]
  5. Jesus [3:24]
  6. Beginning to See the Light [4:41]
  7. I’m Set Free [4:04]
  8. That’s the Story of My Life [2:04]
  9. The Murder Mystery [8:56]
  10. After Hours [2:07]

All songs written by Lou Reed.

Total Running Time: 42:56

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart --
peak on U.K. album chart --

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • What Goes On (1969) --


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more.

The Velvet Underground
Velvet Underground
“Upon first release, The Velvet Underground’s self-titled third album must have surprised their fans nearly as much as their first two albums shocked the few mainstream music fans who heard them. After testing the limits of how musically and thematically challenging rock could be on The Velvet Underground and Nico and White Light/White Heat, this 1969 release sounded spare, quiet, and contemplative, as if the previous albums documented some manic speed-fueled party and this was the subdued morning after.” STE It “may well be the finest record of the band’s career.” DE

As Lou Reed, the band’s chief singer and songwriter, has said, “I really didn’t think we should make another White Light/White Heat. I thought it would be a terrible mistake…I thought we had to demonstrate the other side of us. Otherwise we would become this one-dimensional thing, and that had to be avoided at all costs.” WK

Drummer Maureen Tucker said, “I was pleased with the direction we were going and with the new calmness in the group, and thinking about a good future, hoping people would smarten up and some record company would take us on and do us justice.” WK

“The album’s relative calm has often been attributed to the departure of the band’s most committed avant-gardist, John Cale, in the fall of 1968; the arrival of new bassist Doug Yule; and the theft of the band’s amplifiers shortly before they began recording.” STE Guitarist Sterling Morrison said, “We did the third album deliberately as anti-production. It sounds like it was done in a closet – it’s flat, and that's the way we wanted it. The songs are all very quiet and it’s kind of insane. I like the album.” WK

“This album sounds less like The Velvet Underground than any of their studio albums, but it’s as personal, honest, and moving as anything Lou Reed ever committed to tape.” STE “Without the sonic terrorism of The Velvet Underground & Nico and White Light/White Heat or the ill-conceived commercial concessions that marred Loaded, the album’s songs are free to stand on their own merit.” DE “Lou Reed’s lyrical exploration of the demimonde is as keen here as on any album he ever made, while displaying a warmth and compassion he sometimes denied his characters.” STE

Pale Blue Eyes, Jesus, and Candy Says are some of the most delicately gorgeous songs Lou Reed has ever penned.” DE And while songs like those “and I’m Set Free may be more muted in approach than what the band had done in the past,” STEWhat Goes On and Beginning to See the Light may be the finest flat-out rockers in the band’s catalog.” DE Meanwhile, “The Murder Mystery, which mixes and matches four separate poetic narratives, is as brave and uncompromising as anything on White Light/White Heat.” STE

“There's no evidence here of any of the psychedelic effects and hippie sloganeering that marked most late-1960s rock releases, which is probably why the record still holds up today.” DE

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Links:

previous album: White Light/ White Heat (1967) Lou Reed’s DMDB page next album: Loaded (1970)

Candy Says (audio with photo)

I’m Beginning to See the Light (audio with photo)

After Hours (fan-shot stick-people video)

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Last updated August 26, 2010.