The Velvet Underground

Beginning To See The LightThe Velvet Underground
HeroinThe Velvet Underground & Nico
I'm Waiting For The ManThe Velvet Underground & Nico
JesusThe Velvet Underground
Pale Blue EyesThe Velvet Underground
Rock & RollLoaded
Sunday MorningThe Velvet Underground & Nico
Sweet JaneLoaded
White Light/White HeatWhite Light/White Heat
Who Loves The SunLoaded

The Velvet Underground photo



Velvet Underground playlist



Contributor: Peter Viney

I set myself some (Under) ground rules for this. No revisionist versions by Lou Reed solo allowed (in spite of the incredible twin lead guitar live versions on Rock & Roll Animal). I’ve dismissed the grungy hard to hear live stuff by the original band on Max’s Kanas City, as well as the 1993 attempts by the reunited band on Live MCMXCIII. The resulting list is pretty much a Best of … from their first four studio albums, that is predictable.

I find the original released Loaded vastly superior to the Fully Loaded alternate version, which is allegedly how Lou Reed wanted some tracks before he left. The other guys’ edits worked. Unlike most, I quite enjoyed Squeeze the post-Lou Reed album, or rather Doug Yule solo album, from 1973, but there’s nothing on there to shift any of the selections above.

There are a couple of oddities that I treasure … John Cale narrating The Gift from White Light/White Heat and Murder Mystery from the third album (The Velvet Underground), but the first is really spoken voice in interest, and the second just too weird. The thrashing guitar and band is one side of the stereo, the voice telling the story on the other. We used to switch the balance control all the way over to the voice side so we could hear what they were saying. It’s a bizarre and long track, and while fascinating, probably stopped the slow but otherwise highly-melodic third album from reaching a wider audience.


Sterling Morrison (1942–1995)

Nico (1938–1988)

Lou Reed (1942–2013)


The Velvet Underground Web Page

A Celebration of Lou Reed

John Cale official website

Maureen Tucker discography

Lou Reed Toppermost #373

The Velvet Underground biography (Apple Music)

Peter Viney has been an educational author and video scriptwriter since 1980. He has written articles on The Band, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. He also writes novels under the name Dart Travis and writes on popular music, theatre and film at his website.

TopperPost #44


  1. Colin Duncan
    Aug 18, 2013

    Perhaps predictable, but also I agree that the Toppermost list should come from the first four albums, and also that, on merit alone, the list would come from these albums. I don’t think that Squeeze is a Velvet Underground album, although I think The Velvet Underground and Loaded with Doug Yule are great albums. As for the actual list it’s good, but it always comes back to what’s missing, for example, ‘There She Goes Again’ and ‘Some Kinda Love’. But are they good enough to knock off what’s on the list. ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, ‘Jesus’, ‘Beginning To See The Light’ are three brilliant tracks one after another on The Velvet Underground and all still sound so fresh. I’ve had a great day playing and listening closely to all tracks not in order from all four albums like a twenty year old student having a lecture free day. Remember those days?

  2. Peter Viney
    Oct 28, 2013

    In loving memory of Lou Reed … I saw the “Rock & Roll Animal” tour with Dick Wagner & Steve Hunter on twin lead guitars with Prakash John on bass. The set was more Velvet Underground material than solo Lou Reed material (So I think it justified to add it here). I suspect it was 1973 looking back … the album was 74, but the show we saw at Southampton UK was earlier than the live recording. I just realized that he died in Southampton, Long Island as I typed that, also a place I know as we spent two days filming there. As on the record, the band started with a long intro before Lou came on. Sweet Jane. Anyway, when he did come on, he plugged in his guitar, but clumsily so only half the jack plug went in the socket. There was a loud humming noise and as he started strumming, no sound came out at all. He seemed oblivious to that and to the hum. I looked to the side of the stage and the roadie was just sitting there, “nodding out” is I think the expression. I looked at the amp, and looked at Lou Reed and the roadie, and wondered whether I should just stand, walk forward six feet and push the jack plug all the way in. It was a low stage at Southampton Guildhall. But with Lou Reed you didn’t know whether it was deliberate or not. Lou Reed was one of the great rhythm guitarists.

    • Colin Duncan
      Oct 28, 2013

      I was lucky to see Lou Reed just a few years ago at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Great concert with Lou being unselfish in praising his fellow musicians. Great lead guitar, drummer and bass player. The bass player produced some beautiful sounds by holding the bass horizontally. That’s all you need I thought – a distinctive voice, lead, rhythm, bass and drums … and good songs. Too soon gone. Maybe live performances were fewer, but there would still have been new music.

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