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Released: Nov. 30, 1967

Rating: 4.070 (average of 21 ratings)

Genre: rock > proto punk

Quotable: “A notable influence on punk and experimental rock.” – Wikipedia

The Players:

  • Lou Reed (vocals, guitar)
  • John Cale (viola, vocals, bass)
  • Sterling Morrison (guitar, bass)
  • Maureen Tucker (drums)

Album Tracks:

  1. White Light/White Heat (Reed) [2:47]
  2. The Gift (Reed/ Morrison/ Cale/ Tucker) [8:19]
  3. Lady Godiva’s Operation (Reed) [4:56]
  4. Here She Comes Now (Reed/ Morrison/ Cale) [2:04]
  5. I Heard Her Call My Name (Reed) [4:38]
  6. Sister Ray(Reed/ Morrison/ Cale/ Tucker) [17:27]

Total Running Time: 40:12

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 199
peak on U.K. album chart --

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • White Light/White Heat (1968) –
  • I Heard Her Call My Name (1968) --


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

White Light/White Heat
Velvet Underground
“The world of pop music was hardly ready for The Velvet Underground’s first album when it appeared in the spring of 1967, but while The Velvet Underground and Nico sounded like an open challenge to conventional notions of what rock music could sound like (or what it could discuss),” MD the Velvets’ second album, and ““the group’s last with violist and founding member John Cale,” WK “was a no-holds-barred frontal assault on cultural and aesthetic propriety.” MD As Cale said, “The first one had some gentility, some beauty. The second one was consciously anti-beauty.” WK

After their first album’s disappointing sales, “the band’s relationship with Andy Warhol deteriorated” WK and the sophomore effort was made with a new producer and neither Warhol nor Nico’s input. While the group toured “throughout most of 1967, many of their live performances featured noisy improvisations that would become key elements on White Light/ White Heat.” WK The album, which “was recorded in just two days,” WK became “the purest and rawest document of the key Velvets lineup of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker, capturing the group at their toughest and most abrasive.” MD Morrison said, “We may have been dragging each other off a cliff, but we were all definitely going in the same direction. In the White Light/ White Heat era, our lives were chaos. That’s what’s reflected in the record.” WK

“Nearly every song on the album contains some sort of experimental or avant-garde quality.” WK “The record’s lyrics vary from themes of drug use and sexual references (such as fellatio and orgies).” WK The title track kicks things off “with an open and enthusiastic endorsement of amphetamines (startling even from this group of noted drug enthusiasts).” MD The Gift “contains a recital of a short story and a loud instrumental rock song playing simultaneously, with the former on the left speaker channel and the latter on the right.” WK Lady Godiva's Operation offers “a perverse variation on an old folktale,” MD relaying a tale of “a transsexual’s botched lobotomy.” WK “The album’s sole ‘pretty’ song [is] the mildly disquieting Here She Comes Now.” MD

“While side one was a good bit darker in tone than the Velvets’ first album, side two was where they truly threw down the gauntlet with the manic, free-jazz implosion of I Heard Her Call My NameMD “distinguishable for its distorted guitar solos and prominent use of feedback.” WK

On “the epic noise jam Sister Ray,” MD “Reed tells a tale of debauchery, while the band plays an improvised 17 minute jam around three chords.” WK It serves as a dip into “sex, drugs, violence, and other non-wholesome fun with the loudest rock group in the history of Western Civilization as the house band.” MD

White Light/White Heat is easily the least accessible of The Velvet Underground’s studio albums, but anyone wanting to hear their guitar-mauling tribal frenzy straight with no chaser will love it, and those benighted souls who think of the Velvets as some sort of folk-rock band are advised to crank their stereo up to ten and give side two a spin.” MD The album has become “a notable influence on punk and experimental rock.” WK

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Links:

previous album: Velvet Underground and Nico (1967) Lou Reed’s DMDB page next album: The Velvet Underground (1969)

White Light/White Heat

Lady Godiva’s Operation (photo montage)

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Last updated August 28, 2010.