White Light/White Heat

White Light/White Heat

Infobox Album |
Name = White Light/White Heat
Type = Album
Artist = The Velvet Underground

Released = January 30 1968
Recorded = Scepter Studios, New York September 1967
Genre = Protopunk, experimental rock, noise rock, avant-garde
Length = 40:13
Label = Verve (V/V6-5046)
Producer = Tom Wilson
Reviews =
*Allmusic Rating|5|5 [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:cj9ks31ba3vg link]
*"Rolling Stone" Rating|4|5 [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/thevelvetunderground/albums/album/318899/review/6067412/white_lightwhite_heat March 1985]
*Piero Scaruffi 9/10 [http://www.scaruffi.com/vol2/velvet.html link] |
Last album = "The Velvet Underground and Nico"
This album = "White Light/White Heat"
Next album = "The Velvet Underground"

"White Light/White Heat" is the second album by The Velvet Underground. It was their last with original member John Cale.


After the disappointing sales of The Velvet Underground's first album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico", the band's relationship with Andy Warhol deteriorated. They toured most of late 1967. Many of their live performances featured noisy improvisations that would become key elements in "White Light/White Heat". [ [http://www.musicbabylon.com/artist/The_Velvet_Underground-bio.htm Velvet Underground History and Facts] at Music Babylon] The band eventually fired Warhol and Nico, [ [http://www.warholstars.org/chron/1967.html Andy Warhol 1967] at Warholstars] and went on to record their second album with a new producer. The album was recorded in just two days, and with a noticeably different style than "The Velvet Underground and Nico". John Cale described "White Light/White Heat" as "a very rabid record...The first one had some gentility, some beauty. The second one was consciously anti-beauty." Sterling Morrison said, "We were all pulling in the same direction. 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."

The album briefly appeared on the Billboard Top 200, although only reaching the 199th position. [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/6626374/292_white_lightwhite_heat 292) "White Light/White Heat", The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time] at "Rolling Stone"] Despite its poor sales, the distorted, feedback-driven, and roughly recorded sound on "White Light/White Heat" has since become a large influence on punk and experimental rock. [ [http://www.popmatters.com/music/reviews/v/velvetunderground-white.shtml White Light/White Heat] at PopMatters] As of September 2008, it ranks at #141 at Rate Your Music's Top Albums of All Time. [ [http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/the_velvet_underground/white_light_white_heat White Light/White Heat] at Rate Your Music] RS500|292 It has also gained a cult following among many fans of the album.


Nearly every song on the album contains some sort of experimental or avant-garde quality. "The Gift", for example, contains a recital of a short story and a loud instrumental rock song playing simultaneously in two separate stereo channels. "I Heard Her Call My Name" is notable for its distorted guitar solos and prominent use of feedback.

The album is also memorable for Lou Reed's lyrics, which often focus on themes of drug use and sexual absurdity, including the song "Lady Godiva's Operation", about a transsexual's botched lobotomy, and the title track "White Light/White Heat", which glorifies the use of amphetamine.

On the album's last track, "Sister Ray", Reed tells a tale of , while the band plays an improvised 17 minute jam around three chords verging between glam/punk and pure minimalist drone rock.

Album cover

The album cover to "White Light/White Heat" is a faint image of a tattoo of a skull. The subtle picture of the tattooed arm was photographed, enlarged and distorted by Billy Name, one of Warhol's "Factory" members. It is difficult to distinguish the tattoo, as the image is black, printed on a slightly lighter black background.

There also exists a unique MGM UK cover made from the late 70's to the early 80's featuring a white background and abstract toy soldiers.

Track listing

ide one

#"White Light/White Heat" (Reed) – 2:47
#"The Gift" (Reed, Morrison, Cale, Tucker) – 8:18
#"Lady Godiva's Operation" (Reed) – 4:56
#"Here She Comes Now" (Reed, Morrison, Cale) – 2:04

ide two

#"I Heard Her Call My Name" (Reed) – 4:38
#"Sister Ray" (Reed, Morrison, Cale, Tucker) – 17:27


The Velvet Underground

*Lou Reed - vocals, guitar, piano
*John Cale - vocals, electric viola, organ, bass guitar
*Sterling Morrison - vocals, guitar, bass guitar
*Maureen Tucker - percussion

Technical staff

*Tom Wilson - produced
*Gary Kellgren - recording engineer
*Val Valentin - director of engineering
*Bob Ludwig - mastering


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • White Light/White Heat — Album par The Velvet Underground Sortie 30 janvier 1968 Enregistrement septembre 1967, aux Scepter Studios (New York) Durée 40:13 Genre(s) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • White Light/White Heat — Álbum de The Velvet Underground Publicación 30 de enero de 1968 Grabación Scepter Studios, Nueva York Septiembre de 1967 Género(s) Ro …   Wikipedia Español

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  • White heat — White White (hw[imac]t), a. [Compar. {Whiter} (hw[imac]t [ e]r); superl. {Whitest}.] [OE. whit, AS. hw[imac]t; akin to OFries. and OS. hw[=i]t, D. wit, G. weiss, OHG. w[=i]z, hw[=i]z, Icel. hv[=i]tr, Sw. hvit, Dan. hvid, Goth. hweits, Lith.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • White Heat (disambiguation) — White Heat may refer to:In film:* White Heat , a 1949 film starring James CagneyIn music:* White Light/White Heat , a 1968 album by The Velvet Underground * White Heat (album), a 1982 album by Dusty Springfield * White Heat (nightclub), an indie… …   Wikipedia

  • white heat — white′ heat′ n. 1) phs thr an intense heat at which a substance glows with white light 2) a stage of intense activity or excitement • Etymology: 1700–10 …   From formal English to slang

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