After catching some vintage footage of a strange sixties band I'd never heard of on PBS at the age of 14, I filed away "the Velvet Underground" as a name to remember. Over a year later, I decided it was time to buy one of their albums.
I picked White Light/White Heat, mostly because of the ghosted skull on the cover, and I was floored. Not just by the music, but by how much I loved it. Before hearing the VU, I thought catchy melodies, expert songcraft and studio perfection were the highlights of a great album. But this was diametrically opposed to those values, and it was so much better for it.
The last track, "Sister Ray," was 17 minutes long, and most of it was punishing, repetitive noise. I couldn't get enough. Realizing unpleasant sounds could be exhilarating changed my outlook on music and opened the doors of my mind in a way that "trippy" psychedelic songs or hyper-literate 11-minute folk anthems never did. Long live the music of Lou Reed. I'm forever thankful he existed.
- Joe Lynch, Staff Writer/Professional Lou Reed Mourner