We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
The Beatles Anthology-style exhumation of Velvets tracks continues with this double-CD expansion of the group’s 1970 swan song. In addition to the expanded Loaded first unveiled in the Peel Slowly and See box, an entire set of alternate album tracks is also on display, along with other illuminating (if not always totally essential) outtakes, demos, and edits. (Among the latter is a hilariously cut-and-pasted would-be single mix of “Head Held High” that lives up to the tune’s line about disfigurement and rolls on anyway.) Intact are Lou Reed’s joyous yelps on “Sweet Jane,” “Rock and Roll,” and “Train Round the Bend,” and the delicate balladry of “New Age,” “I Found a Reason,” and “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’”slow jams that at the very least deserve to be mentioned alongside “Pale Blue Eyes.” And does anyone else hear a premonition of ex-partner Nico’s slide in “New Age”? The Bizarro World Loaded that kicks off disc 2 of this neatly packaged set can’t, of course, measure up to the familiar finished product. But the power of Reed’s last bunch of Velvet bananas is hard to diminish, even with “Sweet Jane” represented by a rougher, less dynamic version and “I Found a Reason” by an intriguingly Blonde on Blonde-ish demo. The “Nuthin’” that ends this session doesn’t have many words, while the earlier take of “Cool It Down” finds a genial swipe at Warhol (“move your camera, you know it’s not nice”) in place of Lou’s speculation about “time time.” The second disc also offers yet another variation on “Ocean,” whose narrative flow was in flux throughout the era. This period remains marked by Lou’s playfulness, intact despite his creeping estrangement from the group. The bright light that shines from Loadedevery bit of glee the New Yorker put into his wailing about cowboys and cross-dressers, his very rock ‘n’ roll vision of a city and a planetremains an essential Velvets achievement.Rickey Wright