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Music / Loaded

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"Jeannie said when she was just about five years old there was nothing going on at all."

Something's got a hold on me
And I don't know what
Something's got a hold on me
And I don't know what
It's the beginning of a new age
It's the beginning of a new age
It's a new age
—"New Age"

Loaded is the fourth studio album by The Velvet Underground, released in 1970 through Atlantic Records sister label Cotillion Records. It is their last studio album with Lou Reed (who left the band shortly before release) and Sterling Morrison, as well as their first without Maureen Tucker (who was still very much an official member, but couldn't appear on this album due to her pregnancy). The band — ultimately ending up as Doug Yule and a bunch of session musicians — would release one final studio album called Squeeze, which for better or worse is usually written out of the band's history. Even here though, Yule's presence had increased significantly, to the point where this album is considered to be a largely Reed and Yule album.

Much like its predecessor, The Velvet Underground from the previous year, "Loaded" is a Lighter and Softer collection of songs, which even managed to crack the hit parade - if you hear any of the Velvet Underground's songs on the radio, it's likely to be one of the first three from this album. Sadly, the band was already dissolving during recording, and the studio distilled an album out of the finished recordings. Lou Reed would later claim that the original versions of "Sweet Jane", "Rock and Roll" and "New Age" were corrupted, though Yule says this is incorrect. In any case, extended versions of these songs were later released on reissues of the album.

Anyone looking for the now-defunct lads' magazine that set new standards in British publishing should go to Loaded.


Side One
  1. "Who Loves the Sun" (2:45)
  2. "Sweet Jane" (4:06)
  3. "Rock & Roll" (4:44)
  4. "Cool It Down" (3:06)
  5. "New Age" (5:11)

Side Two

  1. "Head Held High" (2:58)
  2. "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" (2:45)
  3. "I Found a Reason" (4:17)
  4. "Train Round the Bend" (3:22)
  5. "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" (7:29)

Principal Members:

  • Sterling Morrison - guitar, vocals
  • Lou Reed - lead vocals, guitar, piano
  • Doug Yule - bass, backing and lead vocals, keyboard, guitar, drums, percussion

Some people like to go out dancing, and other people, like us, they gotta trope:

  • Alliterative Title: "Head Held High"
  • Anti-Love Song: "Cool It Down"
    Hey baby, if you want it so fast
    Don't you know that it ain't gonna last
    Of course you know
    It makes no difference to me
  • Break-Up Song: "Who Loves the Sun", where the protagonist doesn't care about the sun, wind, or rain "since you broke my heart".
  • Broken Record: "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'"
    Oh sweet nothin', she ain't got nothin' at all.
  • Cool Car: "Sweet Jane"
    Ridin' in a Stutz Bearcat, Jim...
  • Cover Version: The Cowboy Junkies' version of "Sweet Jane", recorded in 1988, was notable for using the "heavenly wine and roses" bridge, before the original version was issued on CD nearly a decade later.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: "Rock and Roll"
    Then, one fine mornin', she puts on a New York station
    You know, she couldn't believe what she heard at all
    She started shakin' to that fine, fine music
    You know, her life was saved by rock'n'roll
    Despite all the imputations
    You know, you could just go out
    And dance to a rock 'n' roll station
    And it was all right, hey baby
    You know, it was all right
  • Distaff Counterpart and Author Avatar: Reed cheerfully admitted that despite ostensibly being about a woman named Jenny, "Rock & Roll" was really about himself.
    Lou Reed: Before I heard rock and roll, I had no idea there was life on this planet.
  • Epic Rocking: "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'"
  • Epiphany Therapy: "I Found a Reason"
    I found a reason to keep living
    Oh and the reason, dear, is you
  • The Future Will Be Better: "New Age"
    It's the beginning of a new age.
  • Genre Savvy: "Sweet Jane"
    You know that women never really faint
    And that villains always blink their eyes
    That children are the only ones who blush
    And that life is just to die
  • Heavy Meta: "Rock & Roll", a rock 'n' roll song about how rock saved somebody's life.
  • I Am the Band: Between Moe Tucker being absent, and Sterling Morrison only sporadically available, it was pretty much up to Lou and Doug to put the album together.
    Doug Yule: It sort of devolved down to the Lou and Yule recreational recording.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The album cover, which was made without knowledge of the other band members is an incredibly corny pun on the band's name. It shows a picture of a stairway to a subway station.
  • In the Style of: "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" is performed in a country & western style.
  • Invincible Classic Car: The Stutz Bearcat in "Sweet Jane".
  • Lighter and Softer: This album is in a similar vein to The Velvet Underground.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" (7:29).
  • Meaningful Name: The album title was meant as a Take That! to the producers who wanted "an album loaded with hits". Funny enough, the album did manage to get into the hit parade, but by then the band had already disbanded.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'", a song praising nothing.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The title doesn't appear in any of the lyrics.
  • One-Man Song: "Lonesome Cowboy Bill"
  • One-Woman Song: "Sweet Jane"
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Head Held High"
    And now I'm older, they say I'm so much bolder
    Got your head up high
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Both more and less than usual; Lou Reed tries his best to sing more soulfully than on previous albums, but blew his voice out in the process, which meant Doug Yule had to sing lead on some songs that he wasn't prepared for.
  • Silly Love Songs: "I Found a Reason" is as close as anything in the VU catalogue will ever get.
  • The Power of Love: "Sweet Jane", "I Found a Reason"
  • The Power of Rock: "Rock & Roll"
    You know, her life was saved by rock 'n' roll.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Rock & Roll" was written by Lou Reed to express his love for rock 'n' roll. The line "You know my parents are gonna be the death of us all" refers to the fact that his parents enrolled him into electroshock therapy when he was a teenager.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Sweet Jane" name-drops "The March of the Wooden Soldiers".
    • "New Age"
    And when you kissed Robert Mitchum
    Gee, but I thought you'd never catch him
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Maureen "Moe" Tucker is credited as playing on the album, despite the fact that she was totally absent due to her pregnancy.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "I Found a Reason" has a spoken monologue by Reed.
  • Take That!: "Sweet Jane" takes a stab at Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
    And there's even some evil mothers
    Well, they're gonna tell you that everything is just dirt.
  • Train Song: "Train Round the Bend", in which a city boy leaves the country by train, because he's been there too long.
  • Updated Re-release: The 1997 "Fully Loaded Edition" restored the original edits of the songs "Sweet Jane" (including the "heavenly wine and roses" break), "Rock and Roll", and "New Age" cut from the initial version.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: "New Age" is about a romance between a "fat blonde actress" and much younger fan.