Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rock of Ages: The Velvet Underground - "Sweet Jane" (1970)

It was the end of The Velvet Underground. The final album Loaded seemed less like a Velvets album and more like Lou Reed's first foray into his solo career. Mo Tucker wasn't on the recordings and the music is mainly credited to Lou Reed at this point in time. That being said, Loaded is the most accessible Velvet Underground record and a fantastic piece of pop musicianship. From start to finish, the album is chock full of catchy songs that are less dark and introspective than past VU material. It's refreshing. One classic stands out, especially in the unedited original studio version. And that track is "Sweet Jane." The track is signature Reed with a simple guitar progression that is easy to play along with and Reed's psuedo-singing. His interjections and swooning warble are at an all time best here with adding great accents to the song. The bridge of the song jumps into an amazing "la-la-la" breakdown and by the end, everyone is wailing "Sweet Jaaaane!" along with Reed.

I used to think this was the best introduction to The Velvet Underground. It truly isn't only because the rest of their work is much darker and harsher. However, I feel that those songs don't have the same kind of "anytime" connection that "Sweet Jane" does. In that respect, it makes it a great song. A perfect piece of pop music. Sadly at this time, John Cale was no longer in the Velvets, persuing his own solo career and released his first album, Vintage Violence, in the same year (more on John Cale in 1973.) His songwriting and style is definitely missed on Loaded, but in the same respect this showed the kind of awesome heights that Lou Reed would take in his own career (more on Lou Reed in 1972.) "Sweet Jane" is an adult campfire song where anyone can grab an acoustic guitar and singalong. There aren't many VU songs that could be described as singalongs, but "Sweet Jane" is far and away the only one. And, for my dollar, to it's advantage. Their days of art rock were done, but they proved at the end that they new how to rock and still be different.

Up Next: James Brown is ready to do his thang


frozen atlantic said...

I get a Twitter API popup whenever I try to load a page here. :/

Good article.

Paul Tsikitas said...

Yeah I noticed that. I figured that out. Deleted it. Bang-o.

Nathan said...

I do not care for the VU. Is this the track that might change my mind? If not this one, is there one (bearing in mind that I've spun that stupid Warhol one a few times and didn't think it was a hill of beans)?

CHT Office said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Fran said...

"Sweet Jane" was one of the first VU songs I ever heard. I fell in love with it, but you're right. It's not a fair introduction to the group -- nothing else ever pleased me as much.