Loaded is the fully running hit-machine created by The Velvet Underground, with bright smoke coming out of the subway on the cover, illustrating a contrast from the often dirty underground that they first embodied. This was their step away from the abstract thinking and right into the arms of the mainstream. This also meant that it was the last record to feature Lou Reed as the founding member and main contributor for songwriting.
The significance that Loaded holds shows through the singles of the record where the opening flower-ridden rendition called “Who Loves The Sun” is a shimmering break-up piece. Usually, break-up records of the times have been somber and lugubrious writing styles that reflect the ugliness of a relationship dying. The Velvet Underground instead opts to create a beautiful harmony between the backing vocals, using acoustic care-free guitar styling, and a vivid pink color that burns off into the 1970s skies.
With Reed as the vocals, piano, lead and rhythm guitar, he recruits Doug Yule on the bass and piano, with some backing vocals and percussion as well. Yule actually leads the vocals on “Who Loves The Sun” which is one of the more capturing performances until the album’s almost end. Sterling Morrison pulls his weight of the scene through lead and rhythm guitar, which leaves Maureen Tucker, the credited but maternity leave drummer that appears more on the Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition of the record.
This four-piece ensemble was the perfect mix to create a smooth, rock n’ roll animal of passion and love that bleeds along with Loaded, showing the final days of the true era to Velvet Underground. As Reed begins to step away from the group and form his own career with the release of his first solo record in 1972, a vacancy was shown almost immediately after he disappeared.
But the times are not all a descent into madness with The Velvet Underground, “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” is a grasping track that instantly embodies the pot-smoked dens of New York City through the guise of The Velvet Underground. As the chorus builds and cascades with the band, they describe, “took the shoes right off his feet, and threw the poor boy right out in the street. And this is what he said: Oh, sweet nuthin’ she ain’t got nothing at all.” The track is also the final curtain call of Loaded with a cast of the community to a metropolis that scrawls and cares less for their fellow man, and more for the image that they cast along the cave walls.
Where Loaded becomes a suddenly exhausted journey, The Velvet Underground shows true colors of sound even after an incredible almost 50-years. The colors do not run however as the performances are just as crisp and interesting as it was when the record first hit the shelves for the masses, ending with an all-star ballad where art came alive for a moment